Kanya King MBE – Founder & CEO MOBO Group (MOBO Awards)

Inspirational Keynote Speaker -

  • Founded the MOBO Awards in 1996
  • Founded Mobolise in 2020
  • Named on BBC Women’s Hour Power List
  • Received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship
  • One of Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People in the ‘Power List’ sponsored by Thomson Reuters and JP Morgan
  • Awarded a CBE in 2018

About Kanya

One of the UK’s most inspiring black leaders, Kanya King is the pioneer behind the iconic MOBO Awards.

A champion of increased diversity in creative industries, Kanya has dedicated her career to improving the representation of people from BAME backgrounds in music, art and technology.

The award-winning entrepreneur is a leading voice in the race debate and supports corporate clients of her talks in working towards an inclusive mindset in their personal and professional lives.

Founding the MOBO Awards in 1996, Kanya was driven by her desire to showcase the wealth of talent coming from black, mixed-raced and ethnic minority individuals, that otherwise wasn’t being shown in the mainstream media.

Gaining backing from Carlton TV to air the awards further promoted the event, which has since gone from strength to strength being shown on the BBC and ITV.

With global artists like Beyonce, Stormzy and Rihanna supporting the annual occasion, Kanya has created a platform with an undeniable influence, a testament to her determination.

Alongside the MOBO Awards, Kanya has been a prominent voice in the media on race issues and the need for diversity across industries.

To support individuals and companies in achieving this, she has also founded Mobolise in 2020, an online service that pairs talent with professional roles to further create a diverse working environment.

For her inspiring contributions to diversity, Kanya has been listed in the BBC Women’s Hour Power List and named as One of Britain’s Most Influential Black People.

The recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, Kanya’s insight as an event speaker is truly transformational.

Having started contributing to the family finances aged just 17, she was driven to study English Literature at Goldsmiths College and later, while working as a TV researcher, Kanya saw the glaring gap in the market for a mainstream British awards ceremony celebrating music influenced and inspired by black music.

When she couldn’t find a financial backer who agreed with her or many supporters in the wider music industry, at a time when Britpop was at its peak and British urban music was still under the radar, she re-mortgaged her house to fund the TV production herself. That she not only persuaded Carlton TV (the London TV franchise at the time) to broadcast the 1996 event but also managed to organise and book it inside six weeks, serves as a testament to the dynamism of a woman who has become a leading example of great British entrepreneurship and business acumen.

The first MOBO Awards succeeded against the odds, moving to even bigger venues and attracting even bigger names, with many high influencers in attendance from the worlds of music, film, sport, politics and entertainment. Everything Kanya has done since has proved it was anything but a one-off.

Since then, MOBO has provided an early platform for British artists from Stormzy, Amy Winehouse, Goldie, Skepta, Rita Ora, Craig David, Ms Dynamite, Dizzee Rascal, Emile Sandé to Tinie Tempah.
It has provided the launch-pad for British urban music to dominate both national and international charts and has become one of the most prestigious events on the international calendar, annually attracting A-list celebrities and musical superstars alike such as Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Janet Jackson, Usher, P. Diddy, Diana Ross, John Legend and Rihanna.

All the time MOBO has been a key part of the growth of British urban music.

The Grime scene in particular has long since burst out from its niche to rule the charts and the airwaves.
It has had MOBO’s unconditional support from day one and thus significantly helped provide the platform for the Grime genre’s mainstream acceptance by backing stars such as So Solid Crew in 2001, Kano back in 2005 and many others following suit including the likes of Stormzy and Skepta who had their first MOBO wins in 2014.

There could be no finer acknowledgment of MOBO than being credited in the lyrics of many tunes from the genre.

Over the years, MOBO has become much more than just an awards ceremony. It is now an iconic, year-round, agenda-setting brand which comprises the annual MOBO UnSung talent competition, an all-year round artist development programme and daily editorial content.

There is also the MOBO Season – which motivates, elevates and celebrates excellence across British culture through a series of agenda-setting cultural events, a social action campaign, and pivotal partnerships, leading up to and beyond the MOBO Awards.

In 2016, the MOBO Season introduced MOBOvation Talks aimed at motivating, elevating and celebrating excellence across our community as a new, much-appreciated initiative.

Kanya King Inspirational Speaker

“We’ve always encouraged young people to achieve not only their musical dreams but also their entrepreneurial ones,” says Kanya.

In 1999, Kanya was presented with an MBE and has further been acclaimed as one of London’s Most Influential People (Evening Standard), one of Britain’s Most Entrepreneurial Women (Real Business) and one of Britain’s Most Influential Black People (Thomson Reuters/JP Morgan Power List).