Little Simz and AJ Tracey To Be Honoured At 2020 AIM Awards28 July 2020 - Press release
- Both artists to also perform and Ezra Collective’s Femi Koleoso to curate Tony Allen tribute
- Shortlists for Best Live Act and PPL Award for Most Played New Independent Artist revealed
- BBC 1Xtra’s Tiffany Calver named as host
- Watch the virtual ceremony on 12 August from 7pm here
With less than a month to go until the ceremony, the AIM Independent Music Awards has revealed the winner of this year’s prestigious Pioneer Award in association with Evoke, one of the most talented and prolific pioneers of UK rap, Little Simz.
Taking to the stage for a special performance on the night, Little Simz is the youngest ever recipient of the Award. Boasting three highly acclaimed albums and tours with Lauryn Hill and Nas, she is the first UK independent artist to be listed on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 and has garnered multiple award nominations from the likes of MOBO and previous AIM Awards, including her recent nomination for an Ivor Novello.
“Delighted to receive the Pioneer Award this year and excited to perform”, said Little Simz, “Big thank you and love to AIM Awards!”
Following his surprise performance at last year’s event, AJ Tracey will be taking away the Innovator prize (in association with Amazon Music) and will return to the AIM Awards stage for 2020. A voice of a generation, his musical versatility and dextrous wordplay has helped lead the way for hip-hop’s mainstream resurgence. With his dedication to making music and building a brand on his own terms, AJ has scored five UK top ten singles to date, including the million-selling, double-Platinum smash Ladbroke Grove. After selling out two dates at the iconic 10,000 capacity Alexandra Palace in November 2019, AJ has now racked up over a billion streams globally.
AJ Tracey commented: “Being an independent artist is incredibly important to me and winning this award is a huge honour. I’m a massive fan of those who have received this before me so it really means a lot.”
The event will also feature a very special live set in honour of Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen, who will receive the Outstanding Contribution To Music Award posthumously. Curated by his friend and drumming student, Ezra Collective’s Femi Koleoso, the tribute will bring together a group of musicians performing a stunning medley of the late virtuoso’s work.
Following over 19,000 votes, the public has decided this year’s shortlist for the Best Live Act Award in association with Creative Technology, with soulful jazz singer-songwriter and cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson, British-rock group The Darkness, alt-rock Liverpudlians Red Rum Club, young indie punks The Reytons and heavy metal band Five Finger Death Punch all in the running.
Celebrating success across the airwaves, the shortlist for the PPL Award for Most Played New Independent Artist has also been revealed, including critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Freya Ridings, East London rap collective NSG, 2019 AIM Awards International Breakthrough winner Jade Bird, Irish post-punks Fontaines D.C. and grime MC and rapper Jaykae.
The nominees for Best Independent Label in association with [PIAS] and Best Small Label will be exclusively revealed today by AIM Awards social media presenter and BBC Music Introducing’s Jess Iszatt via the AIM Awards app. Download the AIM Awards app for real-time updates, exclusive content, and more here. In the app store search AIM - Official.
Rounding things off, this year’s Indie Champion Award will go to IMPALA’s executive chair Helen Smith, acknowledging her incredible work representing the rights of independent companies and their artists across Europe. Since taking the helm in 2007, Helen has taken on many challenges, from Europe's first ever class action court case on a merger, the adoption of the new EU copyright directive, the divestment process with WMG and Merlin with its twists and turns, never been done in any other sector, and most recently the IMPALA COVID-19 Task Force.
Helen Smith said: “AIM is where I started out in the independent sector, so this is a very special award to me. I feel very privileged to work in such an inspiring community which is incredibly dynamic and fast moving. AIM is one of the key contributors to IMPALA’s energy and it’s an honour to receive this award.”
Paul Pacifico, CEO of AIM said: “AJ Tracey and Little Simz are two of the most ground-breaking and talented artists to have emerged in recent years from the UK’s unparalleled music scene. It seems fitting for a year in which the AIM Awards have pivoted to become virtual, that these two innovators are recognised for their achievements. We couldn’t be more excited to have them both performing, as well as an incredible ensemble of musicians directed by Femi Koleoso for what will undoubtedly be a moving tribute to the great Tony Allen.
“On the industry side, Helen Smith has been a stalwart advocate for the independent sector throughout her career. In her leadership of Europe’s independents at IMPALA, Helen has led several crucial lobbying campaigns, including on the recent European Copyright Directive. Her unrelenting dedication has ensured that the voice of our community has been heard and considered, resulting in a better deal for independents across the continent and, in fact, a more constructive landscape for all stakeholders. The Indie Champion award is a fitting tribute.”
As the UK’s first large scale awards show to go digital, this year’s dazzling virtual ceremony will be hosted by tastemaker DJ and leading voice of BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s Rap Show, Tiffany Calver. Alongside the Tony Allen tribute and performances from AJ Tracey and Little Simz, the show will feature a live set from fast-rising South London poet and singer Arlo Parks.
Tiffany Calver added: "AIM’s dedication to celebrating artists that are really thriving and the businesses that support them is something I’m incredibly passionate about and I’m truly honoured to be hosting this year's awards ceremony. There are so many exciting artists represented in the list of nominees and it’s such a pleasure to champion their achievements.”
The ceremony will be available to live stream on 12th August at 7pm (BST) here. The live stream is being delivered in partnership with SBTV and with support from YouTube. Meanwhile Music Week, the indispensable bible for the UK music industry, has come on board as the AIM Awards trade media partner.
Kalex Willzy, Head of Social Media, SBTV said: “We as a platform have always championed independent music. We are honoured to be a part of this celebration of independent achievements, and will continue to play a role in supporting and helping independent artists break through."
Viewers can purchase an exclusive VIP Dinner-For-Two Hamper or AIM Awards Pub In A Box from partners Signature Brew for the ceremony, which will be delivered directly to their doors for the full dining and drinking experience. Each hamper includes: 2 x eco-flat bottles of wine courtesy of Garcon Wines, artisan Italian plant-based dinner for two courtesy of Hay Hampers, 2 x mini bottles of Jagermeister and branded merchandise courtesy of Merch-Music.com. The limited run is available until 5 August on Signature Brew’s website.
View the full shortlist here.
Download the AIM Awards app for real-time updates, exclusive content, and more here.