Live Report: Worldwide Awards 2022 – KOKO, London

Sometimes you wonder where all the most stylish and fabulously eccentric people in London spend their time?

Well, on the evening of May 14, the answer to that question was in Camden, more specifically, gathered en masse at the newly refurbished Koko for the first in-person Worldwide Awards event since the pandemic hit in 2020.

The Global Awards were founded by the leading figure in music Gilles Peterson; the first physical ceremony took place in 2004, nearly 20 years ago. I guess you could consider him an influencer even before “influencers” were a thing, although I feel like he might be rather upset to be mentioned in quite reductive terms during his career. The awards are dedicated to celebrating promising musicians internationally. A way to shine a light on the “back room” of the music scene – the place where so many artists begin their journey. It represents an important starting point to be heard by a wider audience, promoters, curators and record companies.

By some miracle, I arrived early despite my desperate attempts to be seen as “late fashion”. It turns out that in the grand scheme of the evening, I was neither to be fashionable nor late. I’ve certainly seen more than one impeccably worn cape in a crowd that could give any fashion week a good run for its money. I climbed the ascending tiers of stairs to get my perspective for the evening, the plush seats and bar tables giving a very ‘gothamesque’ feel to the whole situation. The renovation that Koko underwent was definitely worth it. I was lucky enough to attend the last Worldwide Awards in 2019, so it was a triumph to see both the event and the venue that has hosted it for so long come back with a vengeance in recent years.

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There was an incredible lineup of live performers, including a phenomenal rendition of Doom CannonDominic Canning’s first project as a solo artist. Emma-Jean Thackray, gabriels and Tyson were also bewitching selections to showcase. However, Kojey Radical was my favourite, the perfect choice to perform at this event, opening with his soft, growling voice and unrivaled stage presence, he brought a level of energy to the crowd that held to a level impressive for the rest of the evening.

The winners were a brilliant reflection of the underlying principles of the Worldwide Awards, no surprise there, Gilles Peterson does not fail and decades of honing his ear have made him one of the most discerning veterans and cutting edge of the British music industry.

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Album of the Year went to Cleo Sol for her euphoric and almost angelic second album ‘Mother’. Track Of The Year was ripped off by ‘South’ by Wu Lua mixed genre song that channels metal influences alongside the rap of the spectacular lex love. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Brian Jackson with an accompanying performance that would leave anyone doubting the decision in a ridiculously precarious position. Tyson was crowned Breakthrough Act and as someone who loves the 90s R&B feel to her song “Tuesday”, I was thrilled to see her get her due. Finally, the community award went to Tomorrow’s Warriors, the innovative jazz music education and artist development organization that has helped establish many of the best musicians currently performing on the jazz scene. international. If you haven’t seen their work, I would definitely recommend checking it out!

As the awards go, the Worldwide Awards require very little pomp as the strength of their artists has always been self-sustaining and has made the awards an institution that continues to be deeply respected. There is no need to fill the gaps with overhyped or underdeveloped artists in the hope of attracting even more attention, because these musicians are so deeply connected to their craft and so passionate that it would be arbitrary to the whole event trying to draw a disconnected crowd. Especially considering there was just about enough breathing space on the balconies, I really don’t think Koko could handle that many more people.

The Worldwide Awards aren’t dedicated to what sells the most or gets the most plays on the radio, but if you want to keep an ear out and see an impeccable selection of the next wave of musical artists across a wide range of genres then this is the space for you, just as it was for me that night.

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Words: Naima Sutton

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