The Urban Music Awards are the only awards ceremony in the UK that exclusively celebrates urban music. Taking place on 22 November 2013, the 11th annual Urban Music Awards is an event not to be missed, with surprise performances from fantastic performers, the launch of new artists into the urban music industry, and a celebration of new and established urban music performers.
AMOR caught up with the founder of the UMAs, Jordan Kensington. Having started a groundbreaking business at only eighteen years old, Britain’s urban music champion chatted to AMOR about his passion for music, what inspires him and his personal life (still single – get in there while you can girls!)
The Urban Music Awards are the pinnacle awards ceremony for urban music in the UK. What inspired you to create the awards?
In 1999, I started Invincible, which is a media and events company. Invincible Magazine was launched at the same time, which was one of the first urban music magazines in the UK.
I noticed that there was a demand for an awards ceremony that celebrated urban music in the UK. Although urban music artists were being nominated in other award ceremonies, they weren’t being taken seriously. That’s why I created the Urban Music Awards – I wanted to make urban music mainstream.
How have the awards progressed so far?
Initially, we unearthed a lot of talent. Our goal is to have a platform for new urban performers, so they can break into the charts.
In July 2007, we saw that a lot of our artists had succeeded in that respect. We decided that it was an appropriate time to launch in the US, despite critics saying that it would be too hard for us to launch into the US industry. Launched in the Hammerstein Ballroom, Manhattan, the event was a huge success and was attended by over 7,000 people. This led to collaborations with Adele, MIA, Jay Z and Kanye West.
In 2008, we launched the awards in the Caribbean, which was a great success as well.
You’re about to hold the 11th annual Urban Music Awards – what has the journey been like?
The journey so far has been really exciting. There’s been a huge progression in the quality of music in the UK.
I’ve seen so many artists blossom. Artists we’ve supported and invested in are being recognised around the world.
On a personal level, the UMAs are my pride and joy. I created them when I was only eighteen, and it’s been such a blessing to see your achievements being appreciated around the world. I have to pinch myself every day!
What do you enjoy the most about your position?
I’m obviously a huge music fan. I like to think that I’m a musician first, then a music businessman. My band, Kid Army, is still going strong and I write a lot of our music.
Also, I like being able to expand into other aspects of business. Invincible is going to progress into manufacturing and has invested in Zuricom, who launched a PC/tablet that did particularly well in Africa. We also launched Z-phone, the first British smart-phone to be launched in years, which will be launched in the UK at the UMAs this year. To design and manufacture a phone is an exciting progression.
What are the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered so far?
I’m a great believer in God. I don’t like to think of issues as obstacles. I’d rather look at them like challenges that God puts to us. If we didn’t have anything to overcome, we wouldn’t be the people we are today. If you look at your issues as a blessing in disguise, it can be very helpful to enable you to succeed.
Do you have any advice for young people who are hoping to start their own events businesses?
If you want to start up an events business and want to succeed, you need the right attitude. Events are all about entertainment and excitement. If you’re not excited, this isn’t the right industry for you. To be successful with an events business, you have to get excited about helping people – whether you’re selling a product that will change someone’s life or whether you hold an event that makes someone feel better about themselves.
I live my life in accordance with two anagrams – get rid of FEAR (false evidence appearing real) and NEGU (never ever give up).
What do you predict for your business in five years?
I see Invincible expanding into Asia. We’ve already invested in Zuricom, based in China, and want to expand into technological equipment like laptops, computers and tablets. We also have two big projects coming up in Japan and China. Definitely top secret stuff though! We’re exhilarated to be tapping into a niche that no one else has.
I’d also like Invincible Records to be the biggest label in Africa and we’re setting up a few projects to facilitate that. In April we’re doing the first Africa’s Next Urban Superstar competition, which will be really important in terms of discovering new talent in Africa.
And on a more personal level?
I’m not dating at the moment, but by God’s grace I hope to see myself married and with some junior Jordan’s walking around…
What can we expect this year at the UMAs that’s different from previous ceremonies?
This year’s UMAs are going to be so action-packed. I’m particularly excited to honour Dizzee Rascal with the Lifetime Achievement Award. We, as a nation, don’t celebrate success as much as the USA does. And we need to start celebrating success in order to inspire the new generation to get into the market.
We want to celebrate Dizzee because he’s an artist that has done so much in such a short period of time. Unlike other artists, he keeps a clean image and has really excelled and opened doors for other artists.
We’re also launching Project Philippines. Because the awards are happening at a time so close to the disaster, we’re the right platform to inject some help and do something to make a difference. We want people to get excited to do something to help out.
Do you have any favourite acts from this years nominees?
I’m really excited for the surprise performances. We’re having performances by artists who have been number 1 in the charts this year – I’m not going to give anything else away though!
One of my favourite acts is Getz. He’s one of the best MC’s we’ve got in the UK. The energy that he has on stage is contagious. Most people don’t get to see this side of him, but he’s one of the smartest people I know. I’m very excited to see him perform – he’s grown and matured as a performer so much. This year, he’s performing with a full band for the first time.
Clash n Kloft, a pioneer in the hip hop music scene, has been underrated for such a long time. I think they deserve to be at the forefront of the urban music industry because he’s really put in the work. At the end of the day, our biggest goal is to give artists a platform to shine.
What are you looking forward to the most at the UMAs?
I’m probably most excited about Project Philippines because it’s such an important cause. Dizzee’s award will mean a lot too, considering our history with him. We gave him a Newcomer Award in 2003, so it’s great to see how our journey has progressed all this time, leading to a Lifetime Achievement Award.
What made you decide to support urban music?
I love urban music, and I’m extremely passionate about it. But I don’t discriminate – I love every type of music, including rock, indie, dance and acoustic. If you make good music, I like what you’re doing. As long as it’s something different and has great content, I’ll love it.
Kid Army has an album coming out next month, titled ‘I’m allergic to bad music’ – that says it all!
Jordan Kensington with…
Jordan Kensington & Trey Songz
Jordan Kensington & Richard Branson
GET YOUR TICKETS FOR THE URBAN MUSIC AWARDS HERE: http://urbanmusicawards.net/
Words by: Raeesa Essack