Jay Kay of Jamiroquai has been honoured at the 2017 BMI London Awards. He received the BMI President’s Award in recognition of his influence on songwriting over the last 25 years.
The Jamiroquai frontman, who recently released Automaton, his first album in seven years, was presented with the award by BMI president & CEO Mike O’Neill before taking to the Ballroom stage at the Dorchester for an acoustic performance, including his huge hit The Return Of The Space Cowboy. Previous winners of the President’s Award include Kenny Chesney, Pink, Willie Nelson, Adam Levine, Gloria & Emilio Estefan, and Toni Braxton.
"What a honour it is to receive this tonight, thank you very much," Kay told the audience of songwriters and industry executives. "It’s been 30 years since I began a career in music and I’m lucky to still be able to do my thing and express it through songs. There’s still no better buzz than starting off with the thing in your hand and then you get to the stage where you hear it on the radio and play it in front of loads of people all over the world, it’s a real privilege."
He dedicated the award to Toby Smith, the former Jamiroquai keyboardist and co-writer of Virtual Insanity who died earlier this year.
The BMI London Awards also recognised 2016’s most-performed songs on American radio and television from UK and European songwriters, producers and publishers represented by the US collecting society.
Ed Sheeran won Song of The Year (The Robert S. Musel Award) for Love Yourself, performed by Justin Bieber. Sheeran also received the Song Of The Year award last year for Thinking Out Loud. The honour is given to the most-performed song of 2016 by UK or European writers in the BMI catalogue on US radio. Sheeran could not attend as he is currently in the US, but sent a video message, saying: "I wrote this song in the back of a tourbus and the original [demo] has a whirring in the background. So to have it played all around the world and have Justin singing it so well is amazing."
The Dance Song Of The Year was awarded to Jamie Scott, MØ and Ed Sheeran for Cold Water, recorded by Major Lazer, Justin Bieber and MØ. Jamie Scott collected the award on the night. Scott appears in the latest edition of Music Week, discussing the track in our regular Hitmakers feature.
Foals received their first ever BMI London Award for Mountain At My Gates, while Kyla, Corey Johnson and DJ Paleface were honoured for their contribution to Drake’s One Dance, which sampled their track Do You Mind.
Adio Marchant, who records as Bipolar Sunshine, collected a Pop Award for Middle with DJ Snake. Naughty Boy’s publishing company Naughty Words was honoured with an award for Stay With Me by Sam Smith.
Norwegian songwriting duo Espionage received a BMI Million-Air award for Irreplaceable, performed by Beyoncé. Fraser T Smith also received a BMI Million-Air award for Set Fire To The Rain from Adele’s album 21.
Other artists to be awarded with Million-Air awards include David Bowie for Changes, Sam Smith for Stay With Me and Fleetwood Mac for Say You Love Me.
For this year’s event, BMI expanded its criteria to determine the most performed songs of the year to include digital streaming services and satellite radio.