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TOP TIPS FROM THE GREAT ESCAPE

The Great Escape takes place across three days and sees over 450 artists play gigs in 40+ venues by the British coast. It’s organised by MAMA and, now in its 12th year, welcomes 20k delegates. Norwegian pop star Sigrid, signed to Island Records last year by A&R exec Annie Christensen, was the act everyone wanted to see (so naturally was the act I didn't get to see). NME praised her “effortless” live style and industry friends were impressed with the young star’s energy and voice. 

Top of my tip list is African-born, Australia-based hip-hop poet/singer Sampa the Great. She released The Great Mixtape in 2015 through Aussie-based label and management company Wondercore Island—with super smart lyrics and rhythm, the Lauryn Hill influence is clear. She played the first night of TGE and, despite a tiny stature, tore up the stage. She deserves to be huge.

Earlier that evening, I stumbled into a pub and found 22-year-old Lydia Kitto and her talented band playing some super-smooth contemporary soul and jazz (think a poppier early Amy Winehouse). She’s released four singles so far, with playlist support from Spotify and some blog and BBC Introducing love—an early one to keep a close eye on. 

The next day, Northern Irish singer and songwriter Callum Stewart played an intimate gig to a packed audience at the Hope & Ruin. His soulful pop tone and impressive range make him perfect for the stage and radio. He’s been writing in Nashville (he did a top cover of Dean Dillon & Linda Hargrove’s “Tennessee Whiskey,” a tune most people know from Chris Stapleton) and is releasing music under local label Hope & Records at the moment. Management is Thomas Camblin at Old Fang.

Later on we spotted a few industry faces amongst an excellent early evening turnout for British grunge pop band Hey Charlie. Managed by Martha Kinn at Machine (who also looks after Years & Years), the female trio are unsigned. They had Spotify’s George Ergatoudis head-banging at the front. 

We also loved the rhymes and rhythms of R&B trio The Age of L.U.N.A. (Believe Recordings) and pop singer/songwriter Aine Cahill from Ireland, who has the makings of a young Adele

 

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