The MOBO Awards 2017 will take place in Leeds on Wednesday (29 November) celebrating the biggest talents in black music. However, the MOBOs stand for much more than just music as the awards have launched the campaign, B Positive, to encourage members of the black community to give blood.
A partnership with the NHS Blood & Transplant for the second year, B Positive is an incredibly important cause which aims to target those aged between 17-35 within the Afro-Caribbean community who are more likely to have genetic blood conditions like sickle cell.
In hopes of spreading the message, MOBOs and the NHS have formed the B Positive choir to perform a series of shows around the UK. Choir Master, Colin Anderson, spoke to The Silhouette about why it is so important for young people to donate blood.
Anderson said: “We really are aiming at young black donors because it’s about sustainability and the continuity of giving blood. Around half of our donors are over 45 so we need to recruit younger people to give blood now because they’re the ones that are going to keep giving in the future.”
Revealing the heart-wrenching statistics, Anderson added: “Sickle cell and genetic blood disorders are prevalent. 60,000 patients in the UK alone. 300 [people] are born every year with these blood genetic disorders. So we as a community, especially as we have the right types of blood to match the patient’s need, really need to step up and say we are going to be a part of saving and improving lives.”
So why is there a shortage of black blood donors? Anderson does not believe it is a lack of education about blood genetic conditions but, more so, a lack of awareness. The musician said: “If we can get to youngsters early then it just becomes a part of their normal life. Yes, there is definitely education out there but it’s more about raising awareness. It’s not just about giving back to their own community, it’s just about giving back so someone can live a better, healthier life.”
With political and social issues increasingly forming the lyrical narrative of today’s top music artists, it is only fitting that the MOBO Awards use their televised platform to push the B Positive campaign. Anderson says: “The one good thing about music is it will reinvent itself and be so contemporary. It’s the voice of the people now so all these musicians standing on giants shoulders… Socially-conscious music is really important as it’s about who we are and where we want to go.”
He continued: “Music is the most powerful medium that can carry that message and impact lives. MOBOs have got that key and their confidence to put that forward. To hear musicians, not just selling their units, but saying something that will impact lives and want to change the direction of injustices – that’s music for you.”
Anderson and his 60-strong choir will sing a rendition of Andra Day’s 2015 ballad Rise Up, which will no doubt stir emotions at the awards. Teasing their performance, Anderson said: “It’s a really beautiful song and basically says we can be there for each other – you can be there for us and we can be there for you too. We’re a community and we can rise up and get through the pain, through the long days. What you can do is stand with me. Rise Up is a passionate song and it’ll be hard for you not to cry.”
You can support the B Positive campaign on social media with the hashtags #GiveBlood and #MOBOvation. The MOBO Awards will broadcast live on Channel 5 at 11pm on 29 November.
Listen to Andra Day’s Rise Up: