Held at one of Birmingham's most corporate locations, The ICC, the night was most definitely one to remember.
For me, this event was the final addition to what, for me, had already been a long day! After finishing work, I rushed home to embark on the speediest 'getting-ready' session that I have EVER undertaken! With only approx 45 minutes at my disposal, I groomed and preened to within an inch of my life! Clothes were flung across the room, shoes tossed over my shoulder, all in a bid to find something that tickled my fancy in the moment. You see, I am the kind of girl to whom planning is simply an inconvenience! Spur of the moment and spontaneity is my forte! (I hear people muttering "fail to plan, plain to fail" ahhh go away! I'm talking about an outfit dahhhling!) So after rummaging through my 'closet' (aka wardrobe! :-p lol) I decked myself out in a black high-waisted, leather mini, with a heavily embellished, front-fastening, gold jacket/top. I slicked my hair back, caressed my lips with some red lippy, grabbed some black ankle boots, my favourite bag, clambered out my front door - trying not to trip over our ever affectionate cat who always feels the need to repeatedly rub up against your leg - and hit the road!
Upon arriving into Birmingham, I, along with 'Fashion's Finest' editor in chief – Deborah St Louis – and some friends found our way into the venue where we were greeted by the staff who kindly – though after some time trying to locate us on the guestlist – directed us into the hall. On entering the hall my initial reaction was positive and, to some degree, surprised. In all honesty I hadn't expected such a well put together room. The incredibly sizeable room was filled with large round tables draped in simple, white tablecloths, each table sporting a beautifully-subtle candlelit centrepiece. The lighting in the room was what really impressed me. Such professional and somewhat glamorous lighting beamed from the stage, filling the room with gently alternating hues of light. Blues, pinks, oranges, greens, you name it! It was simply beautiful. The stage – magnificent in it's own right – was home to a live band which played for the various musical acts and performances throughout the night.
Whilst Deborah & co found their tables etc, I met up with fellow Fashions Finest representative, photographer Trevor Fogah-Griffiths of 'iDeLick-Media'. I, somehow, became Trevor's protégé for the evening, using one of his decadent cameras to capture some artsy shots of my own.
After a (sorry to say) expected tardy start, proceedings got underway with introductions by Holby City actor Jimmy Akingbola and TV presenter Jacqui Joseph. Both looked the part with Jimmy donning a well-tailored suit, and Ms Joseph in silver, sequined, floor-length number. As is the case with most shows, they got off to a slightly tentative start, but soon warmed up as the audience began to accept their partnership dynamic, oh...and Jimmy Akingbola's tongue-in-cheek jokes, mostly revolving around his repeated attempt to dispense his hotel room number, in a bid to gain some female company!
The first part of the event was the 3-course meal. Unfortunately as I was deemed 'press' I wasn't able to sample the culinary delights, much to my eyes' dismay as the grilled red snapper wizzed past me! The menu for the evening seemed to be of Caribbean influence, and I must say, looked absolutely divine! The diners' verdicts that I have since heard have all been equally positive, so a proverbial 'pat on the back' to the masterchef! Diners were serenaded...actually, serenaded is a far too soothing word to use, it was more like 'simply sang to', by two Birmingham ladies whose voices, I hate to say it, were not at all my cup of tea. Their set lasted what seemed to be forever, with them choosing to execute various classics (pardon the pun!), such as 'Mustang Sally' and a Lenny Kravitz number. The entertainment throughout the night graduated and got much better, with great performances of music from various genres, and some famous faces such as Angela Wynter (Yolande from Eastenders) who performed an energetic Reggae tune. It was quite funny actually, as earlier in the night I had nipped to the ladies room and engaged in – what I like to call - 'in the mirror conversation' with Ms Wynter herself. She commented on how she liked what I was wearing (kudos!) and we briefly spoke about the evening's proceedings (whilst I applied the essential yet unnecessary additional layer of lippy! Come on ladies, you know we all do it!) As the night continued we were treated with a performance from everyone's once-upon-a-time favourite UK songstress Shola Ama who did a great live performance of her 90s classic, "Need Somebody", which she humbly credited with catapulting her into success.
Earlier in the article when I said "I wasn't able to sample the culinary delights" it wasn't entirely true. During the course of the show, as hunger began to strike (well, for Trevor anyway lol!) Trevor and I seemed to somehow curry favour with one of the generous hostesses who slipped us a couple of cheeky mousse-like deserts with a beautiful fruit coulis! Safe to say they were gone in 60 seconds! By this time, the awards presentations were well underway, with numerous winners such as; Wretch 32, Birmingham dance group PressuriZe, and MVSA 2011 presenter Jimmy Akingbola, to name a few.
In my opinion it was a relatively long ceremony (partly due to the meal not being integrated into proceedings) but the night seemed to go according to plan. Although I don't feel the need to focus too much on the night's slight hiccups and trip'ups with regard to technical difficulties and a touch of bad communication which, to some degree, cannot be avoided, all in all there was a well-balanced combination of entertainment, sophistication and professionalism. MVSA organiser Dean Alexander sure did put on a great show and, as many commented on the night, could teach his London counterparts a thing or two about excellence.
One of the key things that struck me about the event, aside from all the organisation and aesthetics, was the essence of unity that was so evident. There was such a compelling sense of community, appreciation and love for all things Birmingham! There was no sense or rivalry or hate, but genuine calm and – dare I say it – harmony. Upon taking a step back and mentally analysing the evening in detail, I have come to the conclusion that if ever a cause could kill so many birds with one stone, this was it. Supporting charities, building communities, encouraging and acknowledging achievement, displaying excellence, creating a fun atmosphere, etc...this event was one which accurately presented the black community in a positive, aspirational way that would be sure to make our forefathers proud.
It was both a privilege and pleasure to participate in this up and coming award show, only in its fith year I might add, and I eagerly anticipate the even bigger and better show to come next year.
Mr Alexander I take my hat off.