By Nathan Barley Phillips


We are really pleased to announce that we have partnered with MOBO Unsung, the annual UK talent competition brought to you by the incredible team behind The MOBO Awards!

The competition is open to all unsigned and DIY artists and features some incredible opportunities – to be considered, fill out the application form here:

Through her role as CEO and visionary founder of the MOBO Awards – Kanya King CBE displayed the drive and ambition needed to help take urban music from the margins of British popular culture to the heart of the mainstream culture, not just in the UK but around the world.

Since its inception in 1996, Kanya has built MOBO into a globally respected brand. With Kanya’s expert guidance, the MOBO organisation has established itself as a champion of diversity, inclusion and recognition for talent within music, culture, arts, fashion, media and larger society as a whole.

We sat down with Kanya to find out a little bit more about her work at MOBO and the ideas that led to the MOBO Unsung initiative.

1. TuneCore: First off, please tell us a bit about The MOBO Awards / MOBO and why it was set up.

Kanya King: I established MOBO and the MOBO Awards in 1996 to motivate, elevate and celebrate the outstanding achievements of artists in under-served musical genres, from gospel, jazz, soul, RnB and reggae to hip hop and more recently grime and afrobeats. Now in its 23rd year, MOBO is a pioneer in its field, a movement. Over the years, MOBO has become much more than just an awards ceremony, it is now an iconic, year-round, agenda-setting global brand that successfully champions diversity and inclusion in music and broader cultural arenas. We strive to support emerging and independent talent and have provided an early platform for some of the nation’s most-loved artists, from Amy Winehouse and Emeli Sandé to Sam Smith, Stormzy and Skepta.

MOBO pursues its purpose to create more opportunities and access for diverse talent across the creative industries in film, TV, fashion, art and media. A drive to deliver social and cultural change is embedded in our DNA. We know have an ongoing successful talent development programme, a number of Executive Fellowships in the creative workplace and a host of annual training and educational opportunities for young people, MOBO influences the lives of countless people every year.

In 2016 we set up the charitable foundation MOBO Trust to support young people and help them realise their potential in a wide range of disciplines within the creative sector.

2. What is your role at MOBO and what does it entail on a day to day basis?

KK: As CEO of the Organisation my role is very varied. From attending dinners honouring visiting Presidents, speaking at events for young creatives or hosting MOBO movie screenings for film distributions, to meeting with broadcasters, artists or the MOBO Trust to discuss and create new initiatives, no two days are the same.

Over the years I’ve been privileged to be part of the journeys of exceptionally talented artists such as Stormzy, Rita Ora, Krept & Konan and Wiley to name but a few, and proud to be able to champion and celebrate the best UK and International artists in urban culture, and shine the spotlight on genres and musicians that often get overlooked.

3. Where did the idea for MOBO UnSung come from?

KK: MOBO champions diversity at all stages within the creative industries. We know that there are younger generations who simply aren’t being provided with the support, access and opportunities due to their background, whether race, gender or social economic.

It has definitely improved in the last two decades, especially in the last year or so where the creative industry has really put diversity and inclusion on the agenda. But the issue remains that there aren’t enough role models and mentors and opportunities available.

Therefore MOBO UnSung was one of the initiatives we have created over the years in order to provide opportunities and support for exceptional talent, who may not be household names in their field but are already showing great promise, and need help to get to the next stage of their career.

4. What can artists that are successfully selected for MOBO Unsung expect?

KK: Artists who are selected for MOBO UnSung will first go through a public vote in order to be narrowed down to the Top 10, known as the MOBO UnSung Class of 2018. These 10 will then perform in front of a judging panel of industry professionals in order to choose the overall winner.

This year we have an amazing year long talent development package on offer – from all of the artists in MOBO UnSung Class of 2018 receiving access to seminars from industry professionals, to the winner receiving a package including songwriting sessions and mentoring from multi MOBO Award winner Craig David and platinum songwriter Carla Marie Williams, a distribution package from TuneCore, studio time at Tileyard Studios and a music video produced by Link Up TV amongst other prizes, MOBO UnSung offers artists a package to help them with many aspects of their career ambitions.

5. One piece of advice that you would offer to young artists and other young people that may be hoping to get into the music industry?

KK: You can’t beat a positive mindset. In the past I’ve taken people on if they have the right attitude even if there’s no role for them. These people are proactive and create their own role. Achieving success is about having the right attitude, not luck, money or education. Whatever I choose to do, I give it my all. I always want to know that with anything I have tried to do, I have given it my best shot. That way there are no regrets. If things don’t work out the way you expected, don’t get bitter, get better.

MOBO Unsung is open to unsigned and DIY artists – to be considered, fill out the application form here:


Our Playlist

Never Miss a Beat

Sign Up For Our Newsletter!