Music lovers and industry professionals flocked to Albert Hall on 23 April 2024 for the inaugural Northern Music Awards, hosted alongside music therapy charity Nordoff and Robbins.  

As a member of the audience, Richard Moss, Business Visits and Events Manager for the Manchester Convention Bureau, experienced the event's unique energy. Below, he shares his personal reflections on a night celebrating the North's creative spirit. 

In November, the MTV EMAs will come to Co-Op Live in Manchester celebrating the cream of UK and European popular music. But last night it was a very different musical award ceremony that took centre-stage, and no less important to the region. Albert Hall, one of Manchester’s showpiece live music venues, resonated with the vibrant energy of the inaugural Northern Music Awards. A night that not only celebrated the rich tapestry of music “up north” but shone a rather large spotlight on the incredible work of Nordoff and Robbins, the UK’s largest music therapy charity. 

It’s fair to say this wasn’t an MTV-style ceremony. This was about a celebration of talent that has grown organically in northern England – local stars such as Middleton indie-god Liam Fray from The Courteeners, Tim Burgess of Charlatans, poetic genius Antony Szmierek from Hyde and – my tip for 2024 – English Teacher, shared awards with Rochdale lass Lisa Stansfield who has been “Around the World” since 1989 and DJ Paulette, one of only two female Hacienda DJs.  

No special effects were needed during the performances, no diva-like behaviour or celebrities being covered in Champagne (that I saw anyway), just a room of passionate musicians, fans and local dignitaries sharing testament to the spirit of the North – a spirit characterised by resilience, creativity and a deep-rooted sense of community. 

To top it off, some familiar faces from the local scene joined the celebration.  Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham appeared on stage to present Lisa Stansfield with her icon award, Gary Neville presented The Courteeners with their “Band of the Year” award and Simon Rimmer stepped out of the kitchen to award The K’s with the award for “Breakthrough Act”. Albert Hall wasn’t the only Manchester venue celebrating either, with Band on the Wall voted as “Venue of the Year” to raucous cheer. 

The inaugural Northern Music Awards left a lasting impact on Manchester, and Nordoff and Robbins' legacy will continue through a new music therapy center in Salford. Now, MTV, your turn! 

Claire Forshaw, Sales Manager at Albert Hall said "Partnering with Nordoff and Robins and hosting the Northern Music Awards to help raise crucial funds to support their groundbreaking music therapy programs has been both an honour and a privilege. We are immensely proud of how the awards show turned out last night - which is a credit to Nordoff's hardworking team over the last few months - and to have been the host venue for the very first NMAs is pretty spectacular and something that will always be remembered!’’ 

‘’Albert Hall has always been, and will continue to be, a hub for musical talent. The last night’s awards ceremony witnessed some of Manchester's very own artists such as Lisa Stansfield, DJ Paulette and Tim Burgess (to name a few) perform and take-home awards for their incredible contribution to music. Being involved in such a prestigious local event not only underscores our commitment to supporting the arts, but also reinforces our integral place in Manchester's rich musical heritage. We look forward to seeing which Northern city and venue will host the NMA's next!" 

Greater Manchester’s unmissable music doesn’t end here, 2024 is setting up to be a big year for the industry in the city-region, with WOMEX (World Music Expo) coming to the city on the 23-26 October, bringing over 2,000 delegates to the city to celebrate the world’s varied and vibrant music. Beyond the Music will also be hosted in Manchester this year, a conference-festival hybrid that will bring together artists and industry professionals alike to unify the global music industry and deliver an international strategy for music.  Add in a sizzling summer packed with festivals, arena shows, and intimate gigs, and it's clear: Manchester's music scene is thriving like never before.