The Return of the Illicit Groove Annual Poll & Awards: Meet The Shortlisting Panel

After the publication of the longlist for The Return of the Illicit Groove Annual Awards & Poll the shortlisted nominees have now been selected by the shortlisting panel. The shortlist itself will be published on Wednesday, December the 12th.

It is our pleasure to introduce you to the members of that panel.

Zakia Sewell

Zakia is a radio host and producer with a weekly show on NTS Radio.  Questing, which goes out every Saturday at 10am (GMT) playing spiritual jazz, psychedelic soul and other celestial grooves from across the planet.

Zakia Djs at London’s famed Jazz Cafe with a monthly residency, Djed at the Southern Soul Festival 2018 in Montenegro, worked behind the counter at Honest Jon’s records, worked for the Stuart Hall Foundation and has production credits for the BBC which includes a brilliant documentary on the composer Julius Eastman.



Blue Lightning

Blue Lightning is 50% superhero, 50% Peacock and 100% nerd and a well known face on the Jazz, Soul, Funk and Dance scene in Europe.

She fell in love with music at a young age, both heavily influenced and encouraged by her father for whom she worked from the age of 8, spending her wages on music, a habit which has never left her.  Her tastes range from Brazillian and Latin to dancing to dirty Disco with her eyes shut, jamming to Bollywood with her dad and Jazz-Funk and Rare Groove.  She describes good music as ‘something which makes you feel funny inside.’

She admires many DJs but her first love is live performance. ‘Nothing will ever be better than watching incredible music performed live.  These are the musical experiences I live for.’

Now working in post-production on music documentaries and movies for HBO and Netflix  Blue worked for 10 years hosting TV shows for Europe’s most prolific Asian channel and was the assistant producer on an Asian underground music show.



Milena Ni

Milena is a Soul music lover, DJ and music executive in Belgrade, Serbia.  She is also one of the founders of the Loud Minority (Belgrade) organisation and organiser of the annual Funk Kongres in that city.  The next being the IV Funk Kongres on December the 15th.

You may also recall that Milena curated a guest playlist for The Illicit Grooves Radio Show broadcast in June of 2018.  Her playlist featured artists as diverse as Anita baker and Cyrille Aimee and you can listen to it here.



Mark Blee

Mark is well known as the presenter of the weekly Movin’ On show on Soul-Power Radio which kicks off that station’s Monday Night Jazz Club at 6pm (GMT).

As a DJ Mark has guested at premiere events such as Shiftless Shuffle, the Fish Party in Perpignan, the London Soul Cruise, Music Without Labels and the Cotswold Soul Weekender.  Along with three friends and fellow DJs Mark is one of the founders and residents of the Monthly Sunday afternoon event Ease Your Mind in Banbury, North Oxon.

Mark also created and produced an excellent guest mix for The Illicit Grooves Radio Show which you can listen to here.



Bob Hill

Panel chair Bob Hill is the founder of The Return to the Illicit Groove organisation and the host of The illicit Grooves Radio Show broadcast every Friday night from 11pm (GMT) on Starpoint Radio.

Bob is a music writer who has interviewed and written about luminaries such as Roy Ayers, Arema Arega, Azhaar Saffar, DJ Amir and more and been published in Blues and Soul, Soul Trade, Mixmag and various newspapers over the last 30 years.

Working as a copywriter for ReddSugarBlack Creative Words For Business Bob has created content for various record labels and broadcasting media.

DJing in Perpignan


What Happens Next and How Can You Be Involved

The shortlist will be published on this blog, on The Return of the Illicit Groove Facebook page and The Illicit Grooves Radio Show Facebook group and shared across all social media on Wednesday the 12th of December at 6pm (GMT).

As well as all the nominated shortlists for the four categories of Favourite Album, Favourite Track, Favourite, Compilation and Favourite Re-Issue of 2018 there will be a link to a survey where you can vote for your favourite in each category.

The poll closes on January the 18th and the winners will be announced on Friday January 25th with a special broadcast of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show that night at 11pm (GMT).  As always the show will be available on the Illicit Grooves’ Soundcloud page at 1pm (GMT) the following Saturday.

Illicit Grooves logos outlined-17

How The Shortlist was Selected

Anyone familiar with the Lewis-Duckworth method of establishing the result of a rained off cricket match will know that there are ‘statistics and damn lies’.  So in a spirit of fairness and openness here is how the shortlists for each of the four categories were chosen.

Each longlist had circa 15 entries, each panelist gave each entry a score from 1-15 with one being the best.  The total scores for each entry was then divided by the number of panelists to gain an average score which it was then assigned.  The lowest 5 average scores were then put forward into the shortlist.  Where there were equal scores more than one nominee was put forward.



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