Kansas City People’s Choice Awards celebrates its third year

The Gateway Highsteppers from KCK. // Photo by H. Ervin Photography

The Gateway Highsteppers from KCK. // Photo by H. Ervin Photography

August 8 marked the third annual Kansas City People’s Choice Awards, where an outstanding collective of Black professionals working in dozens of fields throughout Kansas City was honored for their excellence.

In the past, there have been few opportunities for individuals in the metro to be highlighted and recognized for their work. This event has become the high point for many Black businesses and organizations, as well as individual creators and leaders. 

The Scottish Rites Temple, home to the event this year, was filled to the brim with the who’s who of the Black urban core. 

​The KCPCA is the brainchild of local Kansas City businessman Tyrell Ray. In 2019, he started the awards in an effort to bring the Black community together in a positive way: specifically, those striving to build the community up through hard work, dedication, and perseverance. 

“I was actually at home watching the BET Awards a few years ago,” says Ray. “As I was posting about it online and doing commentary, people were telling me I should do an awards show for Kansas City. I laid in bed and thought to myself that I could actually do this for KC. The very next day I got to work.” 

Best Female Fitness Trainer Fit Ree accepting her award. // Photo by H. Ervin Photography

Best Female Fitness Trainer Fit Ree accepting her award. // Photo by H. Ervin Photography

He adds: “The first year it shocked me because you don’t know the fields people work in or the categories they work in, and you are like, ‘Wow I had no idea this person did this,’ until you see them on a nomination. We have neighbors right next to us doing amazing things we don’t know about,” Ray says. “We received over 100,000 votes for nominations in that first year. We started with 55 categories, now we are up to 66 and plan on adding more in the future for YouTube, bloggers, and content creators.” 

Every spring, a fierce but friendly competition occurs on Kansas City’s social media. Voting is performed entirely online by the community itself, starting with an open nomination period. Then a round of semi-finalist voting, so those pushing for a win often complete a media tour with a focus of getting the support they need to take home a category (or multi-category) victory. This publicity tour includes everything from podcast appearances to photoshoots. Family, friends, clients, and personal contacts are extremely important to help secure a spot in the finals.

This nomination process is a source of pride for the urban core. The KCPCA has built connections and relationships that are essential for Black businesses and organizations. Ray’s initiative succeeds by creating a method that promotes networking and community support for Black entrepreneurs, service providers, and artists in the metro area.

After the initial success of the first two years of KCPCA, Ray was contacted by interested parties to assist other cities such as Chicago and Dallas about starting similar events celebrating Black professionals and creatives.

Kim Newsome, host of Kimology, won Podcast of the Year. 

“When I didn’t make it to the finals last year, I used it as motivation to really get out there and pursue every idea that I had been

Best Male Rap Artist 2 Gunn Kevi performing. // Photo by H. Ervin Photography

Best Male Rap Artist 2 Gunn Kevi performing. // Photo by H. Ervin Photography

sitting on for so long,” Newsome says. “I also wrote down in a journal all the goals that I wanted to accomplish within a year’s time. And one of those goals was to win a KCPCA award. Everything feels so surreal right now, but I am grateful.”

She adds: “I think the KCPCA awards has created a space for Black creatives to receive their flowers, and is catering to our arts and entertainment scene. To be a KCPCA recipient means that people are watching me and being inspired in some kind of way. It means that Kimology is no longer just a brand, but a movement.”

The KCPCA is more than just a gathering of well-dressed people hoping to win a small golden statue. This ceremony represents the greatness thriving within the urban core. 

Black Kansas Citians came together for a purpose. Not to beat the competition, but to lift each other up. This path for many young Black professionals can be a long and lonely one, but the KCPCA is a reminder to all that they are less and less alone in that journey—as a collective of support continues to swell in a city that’s learning how to help propel its own community members to the next level. 

Congratulations to all winners this year. The Pitch can’t wait to see what accomplishments get the spotlight in 2022. 

Photos by H. Ervin Photography

Categories: Culture