Women to the fore in Mobo nominations

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The Independent Culture

The dominant force on the dance floors became clear yesterday with the announcement of a record number of female nominees in Britain's premier urban music awards.

American superstars such as Beyonce Knowles and Missy Elliott stand alongside rising British talent including Terri Walker, Lisa Maffia and Floetry to make the Music of Black Origin (Mobo) awards 2003 the most women-friendly in the event's eight-year history.

The rise of so many female artists marks an apparent shift in culture within an area of the music industry that has previously been characterised by a need to reflect the aggression of the streets. Organisers will not be unhappy to see the back of the macho image. Last year's event was marred by bad publicity linked to violence at an after-show party organised by a record company. Armed police were called to the party on a London yacht and a bullet was found.

Yesterday Kanya King, the founder and organiser of Mobo, said the rise of female artists was a sign of the "changing of the climate. The industry has become more accepting."

In the category of best UK act of the year, four of the six nominees are female (Terri Walker, Lisa Maffia, Sugababes and Mis-Teeq). The others on the shortlist are the group Big Brovaz (made up of men and women) and the solo male artist Punjabi MC.

The best album category features three female acts (Beyonce, Terri Walker and Floetry) and two male (50 Cent and Justin Timberlake). Big Brovaz are again nominated.

Beyonce, who came to fame as the lead singer of the American R&B supergroup Destiny's Child, has nominations for four awards, including one for her "Crazy in Love" video, made by the young British director Jake Nava. Her tally is matched by Walker, a young Londoner who burst to prominence with her album Untitled, which is also nominated for a Mercury prize.

The Mobo ceremony will return this year to its former home at the Albert Hall.The Mobo nominees were selected by an academy of 200 music industry experts but the awards will be determined by public vote and announced at the ceremony on 25 September.

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