Being honest, we were a little nervous.
We don’t need to go into why. You know full well why.
This meant last night’s 2021 incarnation of the event recognised the work of songwriters, producers, managers and, yes, A&R people, from across the previous 24 months, rather than the usual 12.
You know what that meant? Half the winners.
Had we run two events in two years, literally twice the number of awards would have been handed out.
This was surely not a recipe for a room full of smiling faces.
In the end, though, the night became about something much more than silverware. It was about Doc, Dipesh, and Depeche; Bello and Boatengs; Antwi and Ashley.
And yes, for a few minutes there, it was quite rightly all about Stormzy.
The Sir George Martin Award, the evening’s closer, is decided and deliberated in conjunction with the eponymous great man’s estate.
It is designed to celebrate a contemporary UK music biz figure who not only has achieved great success in the field of A&R, but who the creative community truly trusts… and, dare we say it, who they actually like.
It is, to quote someone from MBW’s own pages, strictly for individuals who follow the creed: “I know it’s the music industry, but you really, really don’t have to be a knob.”
Last night in London, the Sir George Award was received by Alec Boateng, co-President of 0207 Def Jam – and was presented by Boateng’s friend and artful ally, Stormzy.
The Glastonbury-headlining UK artist said of Alec: “There is no one who has taught me more about life and about music, and there is no way that I become the man you see standing in front of you today without his guidance.
“[Alec] is much more than my A&R and my label President. He is my guider, my protector, my mentor and my brother.”
As for Alec’s own speech, it’s impossible to do it justice here. Every time we try, we delete it and start again.
But those who heard those bits – especially a beautifully-crafted tribute to the Windrush generation and its impact on music through the ages – just know.
How best to sum up the night?
We could do worse than turning to the words of Matt Ross, whose own touching monologue ushered in the first ever Richard Antwi: Trailblazer Award, another of the evening’s highlights.
“This game,” said Ross, “is all about instincts.”
Yesterday, those instincts were met with an immense amount of spirit, and positive energy.
Thank you to all who attended. Thank you to all who tried to attend but couldn’t.
And, of course, thank you to all of those who supported the night – not least Abbey Road, who never once wavered in their backing of the A&R Awards, even in the depressing throes of mid-2020 you-know-what-down.
Evidently, they knew all along what we were reminded of last night:
Yes, the UK’s music-making and A&R community can be very competitive people. But, now and again, on very special occasions, they also show a whole lot of heart.
The A&R Awards 2021: All the winners:
SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR – SUPPORTED BY DOWNTOWN Music services
PRODUCER OF THE YEAR – SUPPORTED BY ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS
- Fred Gibson (FRED AGAIN)
SONG OF THE YEAR – SUPPORTED BY Hipgnosis
- Shivers – Performed by Ed Sheeran (Written by Ed Sheeran / Steve Mac / Kal Lavelle / Johnny McDaid)
A&R OF THE YEAR: ADULT CONTEMPORARY
- Jamie Nelson – BMG
A&R OF THE YEAR: Contemporary Black Music – supported by Spotify
- Colin Batsa – EGA/Virgin Music/Capitol
A&R OF THE YEAR: ELECTRONIC/DANCE
- Dipesh Parmar – Ministry Of Sound
A&R OF THE YEAR: POP/R&B
- Joe Kentish – Warner Records
A&R OF THE YEAR: ALTERNATIVE/ROCK
- Tim Dellow & Toby L – Transgressive
ARTIST TO WATCh – SUPPORTED BY VEVO
A&R ADMINISTRATOR – Supported by Metropolis STUDIOS
- Ashley Forbes – EMI Records
MANAGEMENT COMPANY (THE DAVID ENTHOVEN AWARD) – SUPPORTED BY CENTTRIP
- Grumpy Old Management
PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR (1) – Supported by Milk & Honey
PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR (2)
INDEPENDENT LABEL – Supported by PUSH Live
MAJOR LABEL – supported by Voly Music
- Warner Records
A&R Icon – Supported by YouTube Music
- Daniel Miller
Trailblazer: The Richard Antwi Award
The Sir George Martin Award
- Alec Boateng
Music Business Worldwide