Saxophonist and TV presenter YolanDa Brown said she was “thrilled and honoured” to be named OBE in the New Year’s Awards shortlist.
The 40-year-old, winner of two Mobo Awards, is honored for her services to music, music education and broadcasting.
Originally from Barking in London, her music blends reggae, jazz and soul, and has collaborated with artists such as Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones and Rick Astley.
In July, she was named president of the British Phonographic Industry, which represents British record labels and organizes the Brit Awards and the Mercury Prize.
Brown told the PA news agency, “It means a lot to me.
“Being an independent artist to really start and build a career that there was no blueprint for.
“It didn’t make sense to some people why I was doing so many different things, but it’s nice to know that recognition came across the board.
“This is really me, and I can hope to keep doing it.”
Brown said the honor means “even more” because it comes after a year that she described as a “major turning point” in her life.
Referring to the pandemic, he added: “As a musician having to stay at home and not be able to tour has been really difficult.
“Not only because we weren’t on the road, but I also feel like it’s part of my communication, part of what I have to do, so being on the road again has been great.
“And as I had that thrill of being back on stage and talking to the audience, I could see that the audience needed it too.
“They missed going out and hearing live performances, so doing it with my show YolanDa’s Band Jam (for kids) and my show for adults was wonderful.”
Brown, who is also president of the national charity Youth Music, praised the body for “making a difference and making an impact” and “filling those gaps” where schools cannot provide music education.
“I think it’s really important because there’s a power in music,” she added.
“It sounds cliché, but there’s a power of music that cuts through everything else that’s going on in the world.”
Brown is also an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust and the London Music Fund and sits on the advisory board of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
During the pandemic, it has offered tailored online music lesson plans to teachers, parents and primary school pupils nationwide, with approximately 30,000 children using the resource.
His work extends further, with recent composing music for Sesame Street, an animated series called Bea’s Block, and the Netflix series CoComelon Lane.
As a broadcaster, he has hosted various programs including Gospel Choir Of The Year for BBC One and the BBC Young Jazz Musician annual awards.
Outside of music, her hobbies include fast cars – as a young girl she dreamed of being a racing driver.