Kanya is an internationally renowned entrepreneur through her role as CEO, founder, and visionary, of the MOBO Awards.
The youngest girl of nine children born to a Ghanaian father and Irish mother, Kanya grew up in a crowded council flat in Kilburn, North London in notably less enlightened times.
At 17, 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. Kanya didn't receive the financial backing or support she made the brave decision to re-mortgage 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 organize and book it inside six weeks!
Since 1996, Kanya has built MOBO into a globally respected brand, that engages with business and political leaders and allies with cultural icons and creative visionaries. With Kanya’s expert guidance, the MOBO organization has established itself as a champion of diversity, inclusion, and recognition for BME talent within music, culture, arts, fashion, media, and the larger society as a whole.
The 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.
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).
As well as the MOBO Awards, Kanya co-founded ‘DanceStar’ – the global dance music awards platform - a concept developed across three continents with the first DanceStar show – ‘The World Dance Music Awards’ taking place at London’s Alexandra Palace in 2000. It was broadcast on the UK's Channel 4 network and various countries in Europe reaching over 100 million households. Miami hosted the launch of DanceStar USA – the American Dance Music Awards; It became the most talked about event of 2002. The 2003 show took place live on the sands of Miami Beach and was seen in 54 countries across the world – the most-watched electronic music show in history.
The annual MOBO Awards show, first broadcast in 1996 by Carlton TV, was broadcast by the BBC for 10 years between 2004 and 2013 after which the show moved to ITV in 2014. In 2015 a MOBO Paving The Way documentary highlighting its first 20 years was also broadcast on ITV. “MOBO continues to create a cultural and social footprint, it will continue to be an agent for positive change in arts, culture, music, and society as a whole. There is still work to be done to truly create change, opportunities, and equality in the workplace, to level the playing field at entry-level all the way up to the boardroom. I want MOBO to continue being a stand for the best talent this country has to offer regardless of color or background.”