Germany calling: Mobo awards may move to Berlin

Organisers consider moving the ceremony to a country hardly famed for its rock music
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The Independent Culture

Germany is not exactly the first country that springs to mind when memorable events in rock and pop history are mentioned. But that could change with news that the Mobo awards, which celebrate music of black origin – by artists of any colour – are to move overseas, with Germany as a favourite to host them.

Organisers revealed to The Independent on Sunday this weekend that they are in discussions to take next year's event to Berlin. Venues in South Africa and Singapore also in the running for coming years.

"Europe seems to be the logical next step, and Berlin would be our first choice as there is a distinct hunger for urban music out there," said Kanya King, Mobo Award founder.

"There is a huge R'n'B influence from the US soldiers that were stationed in Berlin, it's very cosmopolitan. Global expansion would offer a welcome addition to our UK activities."

The move could be controversial. Last year, for the first time, the Mobos were staged outside London, in Glasgow. Critics blamed this for what they saw as a dearth of stars, claiming that many of the household names normally expected at the ceremony could not be bothered to make their way up to Scotland.

There is also the vexed question of Germany's less than sparkling relationship with pop music. With the exception of the electro-pop pioneers Kraftwerk, the country's few international selling artists are confined to 80s heavy rock band the Scorpions and the imported and re-exported musical stylings of American Idol judge and former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff.

"It's astounding to see how the musical landscape has changed over 15 years," Ms King said. "If we look at number one hits in the UK charts just in the last 12 months, two out of every three weeks were dominated by Mobo artists."

This year's awards will be held at the Liverpool Echo Arena on 20 October after a pro-Merseyside Facebook campaign by teenager Ben Osu.

Rapper Tinie Tempah leads the way in the nominations with four nods. The 21-year-old south Londoner is up for best song for debut single "Pass Out" and best video for follow-up "Frisky", as well as best newcomer and best UK act.

US stars Rihanna, Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce and Alicia Keys are all nominated in the best international category, but it is not yet known whether any of them will perform at this year's awards.

The categories of best UK act, best international act and best African act have been widened to include 15 nominees, as the ceremony celebrates its 15th anniversary.

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