'Alesha's father was right. Black artists DO have to work harder, there are more obstacles': MOBO founder Kanya King on succeeding in the British music industry
Alesha Dixon's father said her race would hold her back in music
Kanya King's Ghanaian father instilled strict work ethic in her
17:46 GMT, 15 October 2012
Alesha Dixon spoke out recently about some parental advice she received in her youth.
The singer's father predicted she would never get anywhere in the British music industry because of the colour of her skin.
And now Kanya King, founder of the MOBO Awards (Music Of Black Origin), has revealed that finding success as a black woman in 90s Britain was tougher than it is today.
Scroll down for video
Kanya King, left, who founded the MOBO awards, and singer Alesha Dixon, right
Speaking to MailOnline, King said: 'My father came from Ghana and always said to me, “Education education education”, because he felt that as a mixed-race child I would need to work harder than everyone else.
'Discipline and focus was very important. He would tell me, “As an African you are going to have obstacles and you are going to be challenged”.
'He instilled in me from a very early age that I had to be the best I could be.'
King founded the MOBOs in 1996 as an awards which would recognise and celebrate artists – of any ethnicity or nationality – performing black music.
King continued: 'Back
then I had a hard time convincing people
that an urban awards ceremony was even needed.
'There was a huge gap in
the market – urban genres weren't recognised by the mainstream media, so there
was certainly an element of not knowing quite how to market a black
Kanya King, left, with Alesha Dixon, right, announcing that Glasgow would be the host city for the 2011 MOBO awards
But things, she feels, are very different now: 'There has been a huge shift in perspective since then, and now there's a great sense of Team UK within the urban music scene, a group of people who have rallied around each other and carved their own niche.
established our own unique style of music. UK garage, grime, British hip-hop, dance-hall, dubstep: we developed our own genres as opposed to just emulating our American counterparts.
'We started to do something original, and labels
finally understood how to create a buzz around black and urban artists.'
Alesha Dixon presenting the 2011 Glasgow MOBO awards, left, which were founded by Kanya King, right
King, whose father died when she was 13, was raised by her Irish mother in a council flat in northwest London.
'I agree with Alesha's dad, and there is still an under-representation of people of colour within the music industry, but things have changed significantly.
'Racism existed in all sectors, not just music. When my parents came over here in the 50s and 60s it was pretty bleak and they really struggled. They had real difficulties trying to rent a house. Lots of shop doors had signs reading, “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs”.'
As the youngest girl of nine siblings, King knew she 'always had to work hard and be better than everyone else'.
And although her mother wanted her to be a teacher (and her teacher told her she would never do anything better than work in a supermarket), her heart and determination always lay in music and business.
'Success in life is not always about having the right education or the most money,' she said. 'Sometimes its just about having the right mindset.'
The MOBO Awards takes place on 3 November in Liverpool.
VIDEO: Kanya King discusses her inspiration for MOBO