LINING up alongside the likes of Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora, Drake, Nicki Minaj and Kanye West, in this year’s list of Mobo award nominees is a 20-year-old student from Nottingham.
Reggae singer RAM1 will head to Liverpool next month for the star-studded awards ceremony, after being nominated in the Best Gospel Act category.
“It was quite a shock,” says RAM1, better known to his friends and family as Ramone Williams.
“I was on the way home when I had a quick look on Twitter and saw a tweet from the MOBOs saying that I was one of the nominees. It was surreal. I didn’t quite believe it.”
He adds: “I don’t know how they came across me but I understand that they have scouts looking for new talent all the time.
“I’ve been played on local BBC and community radio stations like Kemet but nothing as big as this.
“This is quite a milestone for me.”
Ramone, who is in his final year at the University of Nottingham studying for a degree in humanistic counselling, self-released his debut album, One Way One Truth One Life, last year.
Already confirmed to appear at the MOBO Awards, at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on November 3, are Emeli Sandé, Plan B, Trez Songz and X Factor judge Tulisa.
Past awards have been attended by Jay-Z, Rihanna and Amy Winehouse.
“Coming from a Jamaican background, reggae was always being played at home and by my grandparents, aunties and uncles,” says Ramone, who was born in Bestwood but moved with his family to Top Valley ten years ago.
“When I first started singing it was R&B and soul but that didn’t really click with me,” he says.
Ramone turned to music and Christianity at 16 as a means of getting off a road that he now sees was leading him to a life crime.
“I got into a lot of trouble at school. I was fighting and smoking a lot. I had a lot of anger and I wanted to rebel against everything. It was a dark time.
“Many of the friends I hung around with then are either in prison or have been in serious trouble. I think it would have been inevitable that I would have gone down that road.”
He adds: “My aunty was a mentor at my school, Bluecoat School, and also ran the gospel choir there. She tried to get me into the choir to keep me out of trouble but I hated it.
“But then a friend invited me to join him on a trip to London with his Christian youth group to a conference. I went along and it touched my heart. I turned to Jesus.
“It gave me the confidence to do music. I could sing before but I was quite shy.”
Ramone was nominated in the Best Gospel Act category because of his faith.
“In my music I speak about my belief and my passion in God,” he says.
“That is very dear to me and I try to share that love.
“But I also sing about social issues.”
His mum is a careers advisor, while dad works at Pork Farms.
“They have been really supportive and they’re really proud of the MOBO nomination,” says Ramone.
He has yet to decide who will be getting his VIP guest ticket to the awards.
“That’s the hard part,” he laughs.
“Because everyone wants to go.”
You can vote for him until the end of October at mobo.com/voting.