King was born to an Irish mother and a Ghanaian father, being the youngest of their nine children who survived. Her father died when she was 13. Aged 16 she gave birth to her son causing her to drop out of school.
The first MOBO Awards took place in 1996 at London's Connaught Rooms, broadcast on Carlton Television. Since its inception in 1996, the it has become one of Europe’s biggest Music Award events.
Other awards include an honorary fellowship of Goldsmiths College, University of London, an honorary Doctorate of Business Administration at London Metropolitan University (2006) as well as a Doctorate from Leeds Metropolitan University (2008).
In 2011, she was named one of London’s Most Influential People by the London Evening Standard , one of Britain’s Most Entrepreneurial Women (Real Business) and one of Britain’s Most Influential Black People in 2010  (Thomson Reuters/JP Morgan Power List). She was recognised by the music industry in 2016, being awarded the 'Media Pioneer' award at the Music Week Women In Music Awards .
In 2017, Kanya King spoke to Evening Standard about building the MOBO Awards brand from being a single mum at the age of 16 . Kanya also spoke to NME about diversity and inclusion in creative industry  as well as Music Week about the 22nd MOBO Awards being the strongest yet .
King appeared alongside four multi-millionaire panel members in the ITV series Fortune - Million Pound Giveaway (2007), where members of the panel decide which "contestants" to award no-string grants, based on the merits of their pitch.
Honorary Fellowship at Goldsmiths University and Doctorates of Business at both the London Metropolitan University and Leeds Metropolitan University. Honoured patron of Music at the City of Westminster College.
'Contribution to Music Award' granted by the Ghana Black Star Network Presented with the Ambassador Award at the 12th annual NatWest everywoman Awards Honorary Doctorate University of the Arts in recognition of commitment and success within the creative industries Honorary Doctorate of Laws University of Exeter Outstanding Achievements in the field of entrepreneurship Lifetime Achievement Award from the (IOEE) Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Honorary Doctor of Music, SOAS University of London
- MOBO awards history
- Lawson, Alex (13 October 2017). "Kanya King, the power broker for urban music riding the rise of grime". Evening Standard. London: Daily Mail and General Trust. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- List of Members of the Order of the British Empire, BBC News.
- "The Power List 2013", Woman's Hour, BBC Radio 4.
- "Teenage apprentice aged 17 ranked with Lord Sugar and Sir Richard Branson as top entrepreneur". Mirror. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
- "British Entrepreneurs Top 100: From Lord Sugar to Victoria Beckham, These Are the Most Influential Entrepreneurs in the UK". Richtopia. Retrieved 16 December 2015.