Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm and One Direction star Louis Tomlinson led the winners of the inaugural Northern Music Awards.

The event, which will be held in a different northern city each year, took place at the Albert Hall in Manchester to recognise and celebrate the established and rising musical talent across the north of England.

Guest presenters from the region included This Is England actor Thomas Turgoose and former Manchester United football star Gary Neville, as well as musicians Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris from British rock band New Order.

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Gary Neville presents the best band award to The Courteeners at the first Nordoff and Robbins Northern Music Awards (James Speakman/PA)

Chisholm, known as Mel C from the 90’s pop group the Spice Girls, received the special recognition award during the ceremony for her outstanding contribution to music – presented by broadcaster Helen Skelton.

The music star, who hails from near Liverpool, was unable to attend in person and said in her video acceptance speech: “Thank you so, so much for this award. Look at that, it’s gorgeous, isn’t it? I’m a little bit out of practice!

“I can’t remember the last time I got an award, especially on my own.

“I can’t quite believe it’s the first Nordoff and Robbins Northern Music Awards. Let’s face it, all the best music comes from the North, so why has it taken so long?

“I’m gutted I can’t be there. It’s great to be honoured by such a wonderful charity which does great work.”

It comes days after the Spice Girls reunited at Victoria Beckham’s 50th birthday party.

While singer-songwriter and music producer Tomlinson, who rose to fame as one fifth of British boy band One Direction, won artist of the year.

BBC Music Awards – London
Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles from One Direction (Ian West/PA)

Tomlinson did not appear in person but said in a video message: “It means the world to win artist of the year, thank you, thank you, thank you. And thanks to Nordoff and Robbins for doing such an incredible thing.”

The Doncaster-born music star also donated a signed Fender Duo Sonic guitar for a public prize draw, as he is currently learning how to play the guitar and said he “finds a lot of joy in it”.

He added that “by donating a guitar it will encourage and help someone else begin to learn how to play”.

Funds raised from the ceremony will support the vision to open a new Nordoff and Robbins music therapy centre in Salford, Greater Manchester. Nordoff and Robbins is the UK’s largest music therapy charity.

During the ceremony, The Courteeners star Liam Fray picked up the award for band of the year – after the group’s 2008 debut album reached number one last year following the release of their 15th anniversary addition of the record.

Fray also performed a rendition of the band’s track Not Nineteen Forever and a cover of Oasis’s The Masterplan.

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Liam Fray performs at the first Nordoff and Robbins Northern Music Awards (James Speakman/PA)

He said: “It’s really nice to be in a room with this much talent … but this isn’t about us, it’s about Nordoff and Robbins and the work that they do, it’s about music, and the way they’re changing lives with music and sometimes even saving lives with music.”

The ceremony also saw Mancunian rapper Aitch win music moment of the year for his 2023 Glastonbury performance, while rock band The Reytons from Rotherham won the disruptor in music award and rising stars The K’s won the breakthrough act of the year.

Rochdale-born star Lisa Stansfield was also presented with the Northern icon award, before performing her hit All Around The World.

She said: “I’m so honoured to receive this award, it means a massive amount to me because when I was 14-years-old, I started my career on Granada TV just around the corner.

“Then I went around the whole of the north of England doing cabaret and clubs, that was my apprenticeship … Then my agent introduced me to Nordoff and Robbins and I’m so glad that he did.

“They’re absolutely incredible. They really do teach people that music is like magic, and it can do things that not a lot of other things can do.”

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Tim Burgess collects the special recognition award at the first Nordoff and Robbins Northern Music Awards (James Speakman/PA)

Meanwhile Tim Burgess, lead singer of the rock band The Charlatans, won the headline Northern Music Award 2024 – presented by the New Order duo.

“Firstly, I’d like to thank Nordoff and Robbins for this moment, and two of my music heroes for presenting me with the honour,” Burgess said.

“Secondly, to everyone who’s been part of my musical journey … it’s been a long road, so if you’re just starting out, stick with it.”

The Northern Music Award statue was designed by contemporary British artist Thomas Wolski.

“The Northern Music Awards are all about honouring the massive musical talent that continues to come out of this region,” Nadra Shah, director of engagement and communications at Nordoff and Robbins, said.

“We’ve had an amazing night honouring the enormous success of both established artists and some of the region’s most exciting new emerging talent.

“The awards aim to support and help to grow the eco system of Northern musicians whilst shining a light on the transformative work that Nordoff and Robbins does with music therapy to connect with some of the region’s most isolated communities.

“In 2024 we’re celebrating 20 years of music therapy in Greater Manchester and we’re excited that this show will support our vision to open a brand new music therapy centre for the people of the city – helped by the money raised from these awards.”