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Dropout UK @ O2 African Music Awards Press Launch, Africa Centre

Anticipation Builds For October 15th

So we arrived at the Press Launch for the African Music Awards 2010 at the Africa Centre. The AMAs is a UK based event that aims to achieve mainstream recognition for huge selling African artists who have sold millions of records internationally, yet somehow remain under-exposed in the Western world. Additionally, the ceremony provides a mammoth night of entertainment that features the likes of footballers, fashion gurus, actors/actresses and many more. This year’s ceremony showcases the first ever African Music Unsigned competition for unsigned artists, bands, vocal groups and solo artists of African origin.

We excitedly entered a rectangular shaped hall, minimally filled with guests, yet brimming with empty space. However, as if to provide some sort of visual consolation, we observed a beautiful multicultural array of attendees and outfits. There were youthful, black women dressed in exuberant and colourful outfits, while in stark contrast, a huge selection of tall black ‘official-looking’ men in suits, neatly arranged themselves on a row of chairs along the parallel walls of the venue.

We decided to soak in the atmosphere from a standing position, particularly because to our very near right, there lay a large table overcrowded with glasses of champagne and red wine. Thus, whilst others acquainted themselves with the abundance of sweet-tasting liquids, I waited in anticipation for a show that I feared may no longer take effect due to the increasingly late start. Soon afterwards, we unnervingly began to navigate the warm room starting with the entrance and then leading up to the fairly low stage. It may well have been the kind nature of the celebs in attendance that night; however, I attribute the endless alcohol, free Malta Guiness and rain-free weather to the ecstatic smiles that greeted us at every turn. We mingled with various familiar faces including, Choice FM's DJ Abrantee, The Voice’s Jasmine Dotiwala, former Big Brother contestant Aislyne and rapper Sway among others. I also bumped into TV’s most beautiful Presenter couple, Angelica Bell and Michael Underwood, after which my hair happily received a compliment (from Angelica that is!) and so I decided to grant her with my hair salon details!

As the AMAs hits it’s third year in 2010, I began to understand why the room was rapidly filling up with both guests and celebrities faster than the human stomach after a plate of hot jollofrice! As the AMAs CEO Eric McKaiser swarmed around the room extending handshakes and mingling with all in attendance, ITV's newsreader Charlene White took to the stage and engaged in a verbal battle with the crowd in a quest for silence as we grew steadily aggressive before her. Realistically, was she really surprised that we were all simmering with loud noises? – I mean, the show did begin an hour later than suggested! Eventually, she successfully managed to garner the crowd's undivided attention and began to introduce the event.

Artist Chocolate Doll was the first act to perform and was instantly attention-grabbing in a skin tight, red lacy number that had the ‘serious’ looking men in suits ooogling at her petite figure. Sway then followed with his charismatic and humorous wit, which assisted his unexpected, yet uplifting messages for Africa. He had the venue (Africans and non-Africans alike) 'wooh woohing' when he excitedly preached of the steady changing perception of Africa, from a place of people with "flies on their faces" to a positive, hard working 'equal' nation. After winning us over, we were all highly disappointed (fans and non-fans) to see this motivational speaker leave the stage without dropping a performance. After a few more messages by Ms White and a brief performance, the 'Press Launch' for the AMAs was officially over. Amongst the free prawns, peanuts and crisps, the only thing that eventually appeased my appetite was the announcement of the various renowned and talented performers that will be gracing the stage at the Wembley Arena on the 15th of October.

With the mention of names such as new international superstar K'Naan, Nigeria's super talented entertainer D'banj, Jacko's sister Rebbie Jackson and the UK's own Tinchy Stryder to name just a few, my stomach grumbling finally began to settle as strong feelings of anticipation took over. The Africa Centre became an intimate gathering for lovers of good music, friendly networkers (but sadly not food lovers), thus, the night turned out be an insightful anticipation maker!

For a pleasurable insight into some of the best music that Africa has to offer, it is beyond mandatory that you attend the AMAs. With African artists set to explode even further onto the international scene- you definitely don't want to miss out, so go and get your tickets!

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