London rock duo Nova Twins have released an open letter challenging the MOBO Awards to introduce an Alternative/Rock category in time for its 2021 ceremony.
The duo, comprising Amy Love on guitar and vocals, Georgia Smith on bass, play an uncompromising mix of styles, with loud punk guitars and electric guitar skronk cohabiting with heavy basslines, hip-hop verse, pop hooks and whatever else takes their fancy. Yet it all flies under the banner of rock 'n' roll.
While praising the MOBO Awards founder and CEO Kanya King for having “pushed boundaries and helped bring black music and culture into the mainstream“, Nova Twins make the argument that, having been pioneered by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, rock 'n' roll is inherently a music of black origin, and today's acts should be championed by the awards ceremony.
“We want to use our platform to raise the voices of the unheard, diversifying the space for alternative POC bands but we can’t do it alone,“ the statement reads. “People often don’t know that rock ’n ’ roll was in fact largely originated by a black woman. Starting her career in the 1930s, Sister Rosetta Tharpe went on to inspire household names through the decades.
“We all owe her a huge debt and with the help of others, we want to continue the pioneering work she started. We feel strongly that this needs to be represented in the MOBO Awards.“
Nova Twins highlighted the influence of Tharpe, whose propulsive rhythmic style gave her gospel recordings a fresh new energy that was picked up on early rock 'n' roll artists such as Chuck Berry, Little Richards and Carl Perkins – not to mention 60s British blues artists, the Rolling Stones, Clapton et al.
They argued that it was beholden on organisations such as the MOBO Awards to support the next generation of young black artists, no matter what style they choose to play in.
“This is more than just a category, it’s a message to all young black people, letting them know that they can do and be anything that they choose,“ they said. “That they have more creative options available to them, other than the ones society has offered them. It’s up to us all to give the new generation the tools and encouragement to do so. It’s time to create a different landscape to the one we entered.“
The MOBO Awards 2020 takes place on 9 December and is being livestreamed on YouTube from 7pm, before being broadcast on BBC One at 10:45pm.
You can read Nova Twins' open letter here.