Stormzy on Alec Boateng at the A&R Awards: Read the artist’s heartfelt speech in full

Chris Frazer Smith

The A&R Awards, presented by Music Business Worldwide in association with Abbey Road Studios, took place last night (November 9) in London.

As we reported earlier today, the event had some very special moments, as well as a typically glittering array of nominees and winners.

The finale of the evening will live long in the memory of the 500-plus VIP guests who attended.

Alec Boateng was awarded the Sir George Martin Award, which recognises a contemporary A&R figure who has not only chalked up major-league industry success, but has also gained the trust, respect, and fondness of music’s creative community.

Boateng, the co-President of 0207 Def Jam, definitely fitted this bill – a fact that was firmly established on the night by one Michael Omari, aka Stormzy.

Stormzy has for years put his faith in Boateng when it comes to advice surrounding creative decisions.

Exactly how much faith was poignantly described by Stormzy in his speech welcoming Boateng to the stage.

Here is that speech in full.

I could begin the introduction of this person with a list of all their stats and achievements and multi-platinum plaques and all that other industry stuff. 

Or I could reel off the names of all the incredible artists that he has helped to develop and guide to success.  

Or I could highlight his journey from a young DJ putting mixtapes together with MCs he knew from his local area to now being the President of a legendary culture-defining record label.

He kept me focused on the most important parts of being an artist. From him I learned that my greatest power is marrying my truth with my music.  

He allowed me to be the truest version of myself.

And he helped me to be the greatest version of myself.

He gave me the freedom to create, to explore, to go further, to try, to fail, and to express myself.

He dared me to be better than I was because he knew who I could be.

He challenged me to be brave and he taught me to care about my art. 

He saw a potential and purpose in me that not many people could see.

There is no one who has taught me more about life and about music, and there is no way that I become the man that you see standing in front of you today without his guidance. 

He is much more than my A&R and my [label] President. He is my guider, my protector, my mentor and my brother.  

There are times when I’m on my 6am dog walk, listening to demos and I call him all excited to tell him about an idea for a little ad-lib I have, and I can tell that his just woke up and that he is knackered but he will still answer me with so much encouragement and attention.

We talk music and ideas and art and life, and more ideas, and more music, every single day. He gives me his undivided time, care, love and effort.

He has dedicated his life to making sure that artists like myself and many, many others become the best versions of themselves they can be. Whatever that is. Whatever it takes.  

This man is a legend and this speech doesn’t even give you the full understanding of how he has best served the culture and been at full service to music and to art. 

Ladies and gentlemen if you could all stand up and give a big round of applause to this year’s winner of the Sir George Martin Award, Alec Boateng.Music Business Worldwide