The AIM Independent Music Awards has revealed that Little Simz is the the winner of this year’s prestigious Pioneer Award in association with Evoke.
Boasting three highly acclaimed albums and tours with Lauryn Hill and Nas, Simz 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.
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.
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 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.
This year’s shortlist for the PPL Award for Most Played New Independent Artist includes 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.
Rounding things off, the 2020 Champion Award will go to IMPALA’s executive chair Helen Smith, acknowledging her work representing the rights of independent companies and their artists across Europe.
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 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 12 August at 7pm (BST) here.