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FIFTY3FRIDAYS: NO LOSERS HERE

Saturday evening found me in the familiar setting of Pilton Working Men’s Club as eight acts lined up for the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition 2024 supported by PRS for Music and the PRS Foundation. The house was full and expectations high as the 14-strong judging panel, including hosts Michael and Emily Eavis, BBC 6 Music’s Huw Stephens, Glastonbury stage bookers and music business professionals, was introduced. Its collective task was to pick a winner and two runners-up from the eight jousting for a prestigious spot on one of the festival’s main stages, alongside some welcome PRS-sponsored cash prizes.  


As in previous years, it was an night of diverse musical styles as each contender pitched its live credentials. As the evening unfolded, it was clear that it would be no easy task to rank the acts, not just from the high standard of performances but equally the array of styles and the crowd response. Many around me said they couldn’t call it. When, on behalf of Michael and Emily, Huw Stephens declared rapper and singer Jaya Gordon-Moore aka JayaHadADream as the winner, it was though a popular decision in the room. As the outright winner, the Cambridge-born artiste of Jamaican-Irish heritage will play on one of the Festival’s main stages and picks up a £5,000 Talent Development prize from PRS Foundation; timely as she announced she’d recently quit her job to focus on music.



Jaya impressed with her energetic and fervent lyricism, calling out misogyny and male overreaction in “Butthurt Men” while her able band cut through with a healthy dose of funk. The two runners-up places were awarded to singer-songwriter Nadia Kadek and soul singer Caleb Kunle, who each receive a similarly-funded £2,500 Talent Development prize. The good news for the remaining contestants was that there were absolutely no losers tonight as Huw Stephens confirmed that all tonight’s acts will be given slots at this year’s Festival.

Every act did themselves justice tonight and a particularly high benchmark was established by opening act, The Ayoub Sisters. Accompanied empathetically by guitar and percussion, the violin and cello playing siblings delivered two instrumental pieces with technical brilliance allied to a whole lot of love. Their music is a shimmering melange of classical and folk music meeting at the crossroads of Arab and Celtic worlds. Here is a reminder of the piece that got them to the final.



The singer Olivia Nelson was another to greatly impress. Her impeccably soulful, smooth delivery gave her songs a feel of instant classics and, like many tonight, her vocal performance was mirrored by an exceptional backing band. Nice to see her guitarist using the much-neglected tremolo arm to great effect too. I also warmed to KID 12, a prodigious songwriting talent at the age of 18 while London-based Ghanaian singer while singer/rapper Bryte closed the evening with a colourful and confident performance, delivered in no less than five languages if I remember correctly!

Glastonbury ETC Final photography by Rick Mav


Earlier, the sheer joie de vivre demonstrated by Belfast four-piece Problem Patterns was a real treat. Swopping lead vocal duties between the two guitarists, the band really played to the crowd with one of them disappearing into the crowd at the front to get the young kids fully on their feet. The entry song, “Letter of Resignation” got everyone bouncing.



Glastonbury Festival takes place from 26 – 30 June 2024

All photos from The Half Moon by Kevin England - pictured here are Leah Haworth, Farah Audhali, Kristy Wild & Maya Lane


Let’s spin back to the previous Tuesday now when coincidentally I went to see one of the three artistes I chose to progress to the Glastonbury Emerging Talent longlist, Maya Lane, who sadly missed out on a Final 8 spot. She was performing alongside a stellar collection of upcoming female talent at The Half Moon, Putney. The iconic venue with its history of showcasing troubadours was hosting an evening curated by Ferocious Talent.


Opening was a new name to me, Chandni. Accompanied by an electric guitarist, she delivered an assured set of four original songs with a contemporary R&B flavour plus a cover of “Time” (by Swedish songstress Snoh Aalegra). Her smoky tone was a touch stylised as is the mode these days, however. Next up, solo singer-songwriter Leah Haworth, presented an intimate heart-on-sleeve short set with her songs channelling themes of grief and loss, notably “The Space He Left.” By contrast this one, “To The Moon and Back”, celebrated an expression of sapphic love in tender unrequited tones. There was a hint of Kate Walsh about her beautiful vocal tone and lyrical expression.



There was a return to neo soul-tinged vocals when London-based Farah Audhali took the stage in tandem with an acoustic guitarist for just three songs, one of which, “On The Run” has achieved over a million Spotify plays. There were all delivered with an understated confidence and polish.  Having covered all her single releases over the past couple of years, Maya Lane scarcely needs an introduction in these columns. It was nice to be able to sing along to most of the words. Tonight, she gave us four original songs of the highest order plus a stripped-back cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”. Introducing “Just A Girl”, she confessed to never having been on a date and not having a boyfriend. What begins as a reaction to being asked if she was ever going to be get one shifts to a broader perspective on how it feels to be a young independent woman.



Headlining  was Silk Cinema, a partnership between ex-Paradisia keyboard player and vocalist, Kristy Wild and Raph Aletti (instrumentation and production) who was tonight playing guitar and joined by Milt on keyboards and drummer Talbert to make up a sparkling four-piece. Until very recently Silk Cinema was really a studio project and as Kristy put it “We’ve never played it live before so we’re currently just figuring out what works.” I believe this was just the quartet’s second live performance but you would hardly have guessed that from the individual quality and collective assurance.

 

Opening with “Too Many Times” from 2022 album A Place in the Universe, Silk Cinema cruised through a five-song set blending influences from indie-R&B, electro-pop, jazz and neo-soul to craft an exceptionally smooth yet nicely expansive sound; rather like the band name implies. The Half Moon’s remarkably good sound system gave the set a close to perfection score. Not that anyone was keeping one.



To catch more from all the acts featured, you can view them on Jumpin Sounds YouTube channel.

 


Next week you can catch up with some songs I have been waiting for space to share with you and also a short report from last night’s Fifty3 curated show at The Bedford, Balham featuring the super talents of Andrew Maxwell Morris, Hallworth and Paper Anthem.





Comments


FIFTY3 champions

outstanding new music

through Fifty3 Fridays and

occasional features 

 

Music is a great passion of mine. In my teenage years I was an avid record collector and concert goer. Stints as a booking agent, running folk clubs, promoting gigs and even a crack at artiste management followed. While it never became my main occupation, music was always on my personal radar.

 

In the past 15 years I have written for leading US music website  Consequence and breakthrough  site, BestNewBands. I am a judge for Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition and have reviewed the festival for both sites. I am now pleased to curate my very own music site.

 

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than unearthing great, original new music and championing independent musicians. You’ll find many of them on this site alongside the occasional legend of times past and I hope they will bring  you as much joy as they give me.

Tony Hardy

UPCOMING GIGS 

 

Selected dates in the London area:

Thu 23 May: Jon Allen, The Bedford, Balham

Fri 24 May: Grace Cummings, The Lexington, London N1

Thu 30 May: Sweet Billy Pilgrim, Greenleaf  Church, London E17

Fri 7 Jun: Goat Girl, Disco Room - Pryzm, Kingston

Sat 8 Jun: Bat For Lashes, St John's Church, Kingston

banquetrecords.com: See the Events page for all live shows in Kingston

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