The 62nd Ivor Novello awards, honouring some of the best and brightest in British music, finally brought some much needed diversity to proceedings, particularly a well-deserved and long-awaited win for grime.
The Ivor Novello Awards, named in honour of one of Britain’s foremost theatrical composers, ‘celebrate, honour and reward excellence in songwriting and composing’, they represent the ‘pinnacle of musical achievement and peer recognition in the music industry.’ Although the awards have honoured some worthy winners in recent years, including Adele, Plan B, and Tom Odell, the whole affair can often feel a bit uninspiring on the diversity front. Well, this year’s offering certainly tried to rectify past shortcomings.
The most welcome, and let’s be honest, justified double-win of the night went to grime heavyweight Skepta; taking home both Best Contemporary Song and more importantly Songwriter of the Year. It’s been an uneven year for Skepta, and for grime more generally.Although without question one of the most important and relevant genres currently on the British music landscape, grime artists have largely failed to achieve the award recognition they deserve. The Brits in particular have come under fire for failing to represent what has become one of the most defining British genres of recent history – and let us never forget the great performance that was sadly done little justice with a poor and unnecessary case of censoring at this year’s ceremony.
But nobody could take away the most triumphant moment of the night: when Skepta played THAT interview clip from ‘Shutdown’ recorded after Kanye West’s infamous ‘All Day’ performance. However, the Mercury Prize came through and recognised Skepta’s 2016 album Konnichiwa – the artist’s fourth full length studio album that fans had been waiting for since 2013. But who would have thought that it would be the Ivor Novello Awards, which are often placed on the more exclusive end of the award ceremony spectrum, that would be the first major awards ceremony to really get it right in terms of contemporary British music.
But they didn’t stop with Skepta. Oh no. Laura Mvula took home Best Album for The Dreaming Room the follow up to her 2013 debut Sing To The Moon. A beautiful, sincere, often surprising, consistently inventive album that has (sadly) largely flown under the mainstream radar. The win will serve as a nice two-fingers-up to the major label that dropped the incredibly talented singer-songwriter earlier this year. And it was Michael Kiwanuka who took home the award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically with ‘Black Man in a White World’, a soulful piece of what can only be described as poetry that tackles racial prejudice and minority-identity head on.
Other notable winners included Nitin Sawhney, the British Asian musician, producer and composer who was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award honouring a career spanning 10 studio albums and collaborations with artists from across the globe. Gary Numan, a pioneer of electronic music, took home the Ivors Inspiration Award. Florence Welch and Coldplay also bagged themselves some statuettes, as well as animated adventure film Kubo and the Two Strings, and the BBC’s grand and operatic adaption of War and Peace was also honoured (and quite rightly so) for its rich, and epic soundtrack.
Words: Gurnesha Bola