Kanya King CBE

Kanya King CBE

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Founder & CEO, MOBO Group

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Synopsis

Recognised as one of the biggest cultural events of the year, the MOBO Awards began with Kanya re-mortgaging her house to put on its first production. Since then she has developed MOBO into a brand that has diversified the creative and entertainment industries and helped young people from underprivileged backgrounds advance in music, film and TV.

Biography

Kanya King has a twenty-five-year background in entertainment, creative media, youth culture and D&I. She has wide-ranging experience in high-level influencing, stakeholder management and global partnerships. Sits on a range of high-level boards, committees, and advisory groups, including the Creative Industries Council, Creative UK Council, Sky TV, and the Arts & Media Honours Committee, representing the music and entertainment sector and advocating on its behalf. Through her role as CEO and founder of the iconic MOBO brand, Kanya displayed the drive and ambition needed to help take black music from the margins of British popular culture to the heart of mainstream culture, in the UK and around the world. The MOBOs Awards has become an important annual cultural event, attracting international names including Beyoncé, Jay-Z, the Black Eyed Peas, John Legend, Diana Ross and Tina Turner.

The youngest of nine siblings, Kanya grew up in a crowded council flat in north London and began financially supporting her family by the age of seventeen. It was during her time working as a TV researcher that she saw the gap in the market for black music and began a lengthy campaign to attract sponsors and producers for MOBO. She eventually re-mortgaged her house to fund the production of the first MOBO Awards and successfully orchestrated its first broadcast in six weeks. Since then, the awards have risen to become one of the most prestigious events in the entertainment industry, connecting politicians and business leaders with visionaries in the arts and media. Since the beginning, MOBO has served as an early showcase for British artists including Craig David, Amy Winehouse, Stefflon Don, Rita Ora, Tinie Tempah, Krept & Konan and Emile Sandé.

Kanya has built MOBO into a globally respected brand, and under her leadership has guided it to establish itself as a champion of equity, diversity, and inclusion, recognising and providing a platform for talent within music, culture, arts, fashion, media, and wider creative industries.

Kanya was presented with both an MBE for services to the music industry and a CBE for services to music and culture. She was also received the Legacy Award at the inaugural Investing in Diversity Awards, was awarded the Music Week Strat Award, one of the highest music industry accolades and was named as one of the Evening Standard’s 1000 Most Influential People.

The MOBO Awards celebrated its twenty fifth anniversary highlighting its incredible legacy, while shining a light on the stars of the scene across a wide range of genres. The spectacular awards show was broadcast on BBC1 and live streamed on YouTube.

Kanya has a Visiting Professorship from London Metropolitan University and eight doctorates. She is a Trustee for MOBO Trust, a Patron of the Horniman Museum and was a founding director of the entrepreneurial network, E2Exchange (E2E).

In her speeches, Kanya discusses the story of MOBO, its values and its vision in becoming a voice for a large section of society who had previously been disenfranchised. She touches upon the importance of diversity as well as the social and cultural responsibility of MOBO beyond the music. She also considers the inevitability of failing, the importance of having a clear vision to achieve, and how such visions need to be nurtured by a resilient mindset.

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