The 7th Annual Urban Music Awards 2009 – Bloomsbury Theatre, London review

Last night, Sunday November 1, 2009, we attended the 7th annual Urban Music Awards (UMA) at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London.

Urban Music Awards

Dave and I made our way to London via the Oxford Tube bus which is convenient and not too pricey. We were somewhat entertained by strangers Charlie and his mates, sitting behind us. It was difficult not to overhear their excitement and conversation regarding their plans for the evening, which was going to the Snowboarding World Cup event at Battersea Power Station. While they were discussing their evening, we were getting excited too, on our way to the Urban Music Awards.

Bloomsbury is one of my favorite areas in London. It was the first place I stayed when I arrived in England a few years ago. This time of year, the streets are especially quaint, walking along, over the crisp fallen leaves… so I wasn’t too disappointed to find out that although we arrived, press passes in hand, at the Bloomsbury Theatre on time, we were an hour early. So, with some time to spare, we wandered around and found our way to the pleasant Cafe Toscana.

An hour later and back at the theatre, things were bustling and as the crowd made their way into the reception area, we headed straight for the bar…and then proceeded to people watch. A very nice looking crowd indeed, many dressed to the max, girls in short sequined dresses of all colors, guys dressed in suits along with some familiar faces.

One of those familiar faces was none other than Levi Roots! He was up for an award in the Best Entrepreneur category, which I felt was well deserved as we’ve been following his career since his successful appearance on BBC’s Dragon’s Den when he was given funding for his – and my favorite – Reggae Reggae Sauce.

We talked to Levi before the show. He has a new album and video out, and I asked him if he plans to come out with a milder Reggae Reggae Sauce. He said the current sauce isn’t that spicy! He looked great, a sharp dresser, and I was happy to find out that his warm and friendly personality that comes across on TV is the same in person.

Watch Levi Roots – “So Out Of My Mind” video:

After the announcement that the awards show was about to begin, we went into the theatre, found some good seats, and we were ready for the show.

Awards Presenters included:

Comedian Roland Rivron, Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace (Big Brother 7), former boxer Frank Bruno, Paul Danan (Reality TV, former Hollyoaks actor), British MP George Galloway, actress Linda Robson, Christian artists Adam and Matt Brooks and R&B group Cleopatra.

Performances included:

Sons of Soul (SOS) “Candy Girl”; Sway; Wild Sugar; K.I.G Family “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”; Meleka “Go”; Lazee “Hold On”; Dj Luck and Mc Neat “A Little Bit of Luck”; Egypt “In The Morning”; Britain’s Next Superstar singers/contestants and Brick & Lace.

Voted by the public via the UrbanMusicAwards website, winners included:

Best Newcomer: Egypt
Best Radio Show: James Meritt (Kiss)
Best Entrepreneur: Levi Roots
Best Collaboration: Jay Sean ft. Lil Wayne “Down”
Most Inspiring Act 2009 (?) Brick & Lace
Best Music TV Station: Flava TV
Best Jazz Act: Yolanda Brown
Best Album 2009: N-Dubz ‘Uncle B’
Best Producer: Blessed Beats
Best Hip Hop Act: Sway
Best Music Video: K.I.G “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes”
Best UK Asian Act: R.D.B
Best Gospel Act: Guvna B
Best R&B Act: Brick & Lace

The founder of the Urban Music Awards Jordan Kensington thanked his mother who was in attendance and talked about helping to get kids inspired at 200 schools and colleges. Children in The Urban Poets vs Double MDO (not sure of the spelling) performed poems about success, and from audience response, Double MDO won the Young Achievers Award.

I hope to get official documentation regarding winners, performances etc. which I’ll publish here on when available, or in the meantime, go to the Urban Music Awards Official website.

Notable Performances / Ones to Watch: Sway; Wild Sugar: hopefully I’m spelling that right – I’m unable to locate their website, but Wild Sugar was fantastic. Three girls singing up front with nine dancers behind them. The main vocalist’s voice was somewhat reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald, with some scat singing thrown in for good measure. Great to hear young artists singing in that style; Meleka: she has a great voice, looked fabulous on stage in her sparkly silver dress and I really like her debut single “Go”. She pulled Entrepreneur of the Year Levi Roots up to the stage and he good-naturedly danced along with her; Swedish rapper Lazee; Cleopatra: when they presented the Best R&B Act Award, they sang part of a song acapella and announced that they’ll be back in 2010. I’ll look forward to hearing their new material.

The night was fun and entertaining and the setting was intimate. There were some glitches – a couple times when presenters were announced to come out, we were left in complete silence as nothing happened – to then be told that the presenter wasn’t available to present the award. But I guess “technical difficulties” are to be expected at this kind of event.

Also, it was disappointing to see that it wasn’t a full house and I’m not sure if that was due to keeping the awards show more low key this year because of the violence that erupted, as Sway mentioned when he accepted his award, last year at the larger 2008 Urban Music Awards at the O2 arena in London, or if there were other reasons.

I hope that more people continue to go out and support UK artists of this genre, either by checking out live shows and/or buying the music, as there are a lot of talented artists and musicians out there, performing their craft and entertaining audiences.

On our way back home on the Oxford Tube, we were coincidentally reunited with – still strangers – Charlie and his mates, as they sat behind us again and loudly talked about the Snowboarding World Cup and the winners of the event. It was good to hear the results.

For more information, go to:

Invincible Group
Jordan Kensington on Twitter

Urban Music Awards Official Website

By: Jenny May

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Jenny May

Jenny May is the founder of Band Weblogs. Based in Oxford, England (originally from New England), Band Weblogs was created in 2005. With a passion for music, Jenny May has performed with bands in the US and the UK, her music has appeared in films, she was a vocal coach for the Yamaha Rock School and has worked on music projects with musicians such as Jon Fishman (Phish), Fyfe Dangerfield (Guillemots) and Cisco Adler (Shwayze). Jenny is currently publishing music news, conducting exclusive interviews and writing music commentary for Band Weblogs and writing, recording and performing music with duo Purple May.