FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: GLASTONBURY EMERGING TALENT 2023 FINALISTS
It’s that moment you can’t wait for but almost dread. For the 30 Round 1 judges of the annual Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition, it’s the question: have any of your choices made it through? Thousands applied and from the ninety who reached the longlist, eight acts were greeted by good news on Thursday as the finalists for the 2023 competition were unveiled. The competition, supported by PRS for Music and PRS Foundation, is initially judged by 30 UK-based music writers, including yours truly, who each select just 3 acts to progress further. A second, smaller judging panel then pares the ninety down to eight who go on to compete in a special live final. Although this year there are nine, as I shall shortly explain.
2022 ETC Winner - Lewis McLaughlin
Firstly, the eight. Congratulations to Cordelia Gartside, EVA, FFSYTHO?!, Naomi Kimpenu, N’famady Kouyaté, Prima Queen, The Love Buzz and VLURE who were the judges’ choices for the live final. They will be joined by a ninth artiste - Ezra Williams, formerly known as Smoothboi Ezra, who had to miss last year’s live final through illness and so has been given a bye to this year’s invite-only final which will take place in Pilton on Saturday 29 April.
Commiserations to my three choices – march, Yemi Bolatiwa and Dan Sealey – who sadly did not make the final cut. I sincerely hope that the exposure they have all received from being playlisted by Glastonbury Festival has given them each a personal boost and gained them some new fans. To get to the final is amazing but just to make it to the ninety is a huge achievement too. Keep on doing what you’re doing.
You can listen to all the finalists now on Glastonbury’s YouTube Playlist. This features the songs they each entered as their main submission. As you might expect there is an eclecticism to the list as it covers several genres but simply as a subjective preview, here are three of them which would be certain candidates for Fifty3 Fridays.
Ezra Williams “Stuck”
County Wicklow’s Ezra Williams brings real tenderness to a tale of a troubled relationship with a hint of the USA’s Sarah Tomberlin in the delivery. No bad thing.
Cordelia Gartside “Stranger in the Water”
Hastings folk singer-songwriter Cordelia Gartside has penned a poignant song that creeps up on you and grows keener the more you hear it. A trace of Kate Walsh in her voice seals it for me.
Prima Queen “Eclipse”
All female indie alt-rock outfit Prima Queen has that chemistry that comes from its songwriters and frontpersons Louise Macphail and Kristin McFadden also being besties.
In hosting and supporting the competition, Glastonbury Festival and PRS should be applauded for giving unsigned artistes, often unknown outside their immediate fan base, the chance to reach out to a wider audience and put their music front of stage. The eventual winner of this epic contest will earn a slot on one of the main stages at Glastonbury 2022 and be awarded a £5,000 Talent Development prize from PRS. Two runners-up will also each pick up a £2,500 PRS Foundation Talent Development prize.
Next week’s Fifty3 Fridays will be taking a break from the normal output as, all being well, I will be returning from a week in Cornwall. Hopefully I will be able to dust something off from the early writing annals for your delectation, or otherwise. The usual format highlighting new music chiefly from independent acts will return on 14 April. You have been warned!