MOBO ditches Jazz

Just got this message from the lovely people at Dune records – apparently the organisers of the MOBO awards claim they can’t find four names to nominate for a Jazz category!!! are they mental?? Jazz in the UK is currently stronger creatively than it’s ever been – we’ve had UK independent jazz artists like Zoe Rahman and Polar Bear getting national recognition via the Mercury Music Prize, and some outstanding music coming from the Dune/Tomorrow’s Warriors stable. Musicians like Jason Yarde, Denis Baptiste, Dennis Rollins, Cleveland Watkiss, Soweto Kinch, Byron Wallen, Gary Crosby, Jazz Jamaica… there are LOADS of great black british jazz artists. Loads and Loads. And given that the MOBOs are about music of black origin, not even just black artists, there are even more to choose from.

I have no idea what the MOBOs are about these days – maybe it’s just about getting corporate sponsorship, and no-one was willing to sponsor the Jazz award.

Anyway, here’s the message from the people at Dune Records – have a read, and send an email…
The people behind the MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) Awards have scrapped the award for Best Jazz Act.

Their excuse? They cannot find 4 names to put up for nomination! This is an outrage and serves to support the widespread view in the jazz community that the MOBO organisation – an organisation purporting to promote black music – is actively marginalising jazz and jazz artists. We have a hard enough job as it is reminding people that jazz IS black music so MOBO’s action is incredibly unhelpful to the jazz sector, and to the industry as a whole.

There are few enough opportunities for jazz artists to attract the limelight so we can well do without MOBO dropping this award.

Also, in light of new education initiatives to bring jazz into the national curriculum, their action is particularly counterproductive. Not sure why MOBO feel that our young people shouldn’t be exposed/have access to jazz – it is black music after all and an incredibly creative form of black music. They tried the same thing with the Gospel prize (last year?), leading many of us to believe that MOBO is seeking to disenfranchise the very people who created black music.

According to the MOBO Organisation Mission Statement, MOBO:

– identifies, showcases and celebrates music derived from black heritage
– is RnB, Reggae, Hip-Hop, Jazz….
– seeks to promote the history of music of black origin

MOBO’s action would suggest that it’s high time their Board of Directors were reminded of their remit and take remedial action to avoid a great deal of negative publicity surrounding this decision.

Everyone interested in getting jazz and jazz artists due recognition should complain bitterly to MOBO about this utterly nonsensical move.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7419 1800 or

One Reply to “MOBO ditches Jazz”

  1. Hi Steve
    Pleased to see that many people are responding to this outrage. I found out (and reacted) to the news in July when trying to find out info about getting the recently BBC Jazz awarded Dennis Rollins nominated by the MOBOs. By the way (and this is just a small point) Dennis Rollins is not and has never been part of the Dune stable – he performed for a couple of years with the old line-up of Jazz Jamaica almost ten years ago and was a member of Courtney Pine’s Jazz Warriors. His three albums are released on his own ‘Raestar’ label.

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