Big Help Showcase at the Fusilier.
It is a couple of months since I last went to a Big Help Music Showcase at the Fusilier in Sydenham and over three since I last reported on one. Having such a gap means that there is always something different to see and those artists who have been seen before demonstrate their development since last time. Such is the case of twelve year old Bianca-Jade Bartlett-Richards. This diminutive girl has come on leaps and bounds in confidence since I last saw her. She now stands behind the microphone as if she owns it. Her movements are assured and delivered with panache. She doesn't shy away from difficult songs and her set included a song from Les Miserables, which is not known for easy songs and took on "Castle On A Cloud" which being in a minor key would challenge any twelve year old. Her list also included songs from Bruno Mars and "When Will My Life Begin?" from the movie, Tangled. That is not the easiest of songs to sing either. She was not phased by the difficulty and gave it a good try. Perhaps a couple of tuning issues occasionally, but she is just beginning and more to the point enjoying herself as well as entertaining her fans.
Charlie B is a young man who has had experience in boy bands and is now establishing himself as a solo artist. One of his favourite artists is Ed Sheeran and two of Ed's songs appeared in Charlie's Set. However, He is now writing his own songs too. I was particularly impressed with "Lila" (there is a video of this performance on my facebook page). Link here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007324811587 He has written two others to my knowledge, "Standing In Your Way" and "Unique". He is learning his trade and later in the night performed an virtually unrehearsed and impromptu duet with Katrin Leoni who had her own spot later in the show. He is personable young man, with a nice guitar technique.
Ffion Rebecca, is growing up into becoming a proper young lady. Her EP which was launched a couple of months ago, entered the i-tunes Blues Chart at No.2 beaten only by the Rolling Stones and ahead of Rag 'n' Boneman's "Human". It is still being featured in I-tunes front page even now. A new CD is in the planning. Ffion is a lovely friendly girl and now looks the part of an established and sophisticated entertainer in her slinky black dress and high heels. When on stage now she has accompaniment provided by Lewis Proctor on guitar. Her set included a number of her own original songs including "Love Away From Home" and a new one "What Can I Say?".
In anticipation of a holiday in Florida with her family, Ffion recorded seven songs of Disney origins, giving her own particular jazzy treatment to them. One of the "Everybody Wants To Be A Cat" caught on so she has now started including it in her sets. Incidentally whilst on the holiday, she was invited to sing four numbers with the band on one of the biggest cruise ships in the world. What a thrill for a sixteen year old. Thus the holidaymakers aboard "Oasis of the Seas" were given a special treat, which they enjoyed as much as Ffion did. The closing song in her set was the very first song she ever wrote, "Blue Eyed Boy" I admit to getting moved as she performed it as I have never heard her sing it better.
Brooke Layla from Milton Keynes is another Big Help Music artist for whom things are moving fast. From her appearance on Michael McIntyre's BBC 1 TV show and another forthcoming TV appearance, (of which more we shall learn in due course), she has been booked to appear at the British F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone in July. Brooke does not get much bigger in stature, but boy!, her voice does. Sultry doesn't seem to be an appropriate term to use to describe a thirteen year old girl's voice, but I am struggling to find a better adjective to use to define the tonal character of Brooke's sound.
It was nice to hear that she doesn't turn her back on the music of a little while ago as she opened her set with "Be My Baby" from the Ronettes. Bill Withers, Adele (of course) and Bruno Mars also featured in her play list. Then she sang "True Colours" (Cyndi Lauper) and "Human" from Rag 'n' Boneman. The sheer depth and quality of this youngster's voice sent a frisson round the pub. Something happened and perhaps unknown even to her we all shared a moment. I heard also that a future project (this week) is a collaboration with Kellimarie, recently of "Got what it takes?" on CBBC. Now THAT should be something special.
Speaking of collaborations, Charlie B came back on stage to join Katrin Leoni for an untried version of the Jason Mraz hit, "I'm Yours." Katrin wanted to buy the memory card out of my camera as I videoed them singing together, but her fears were unfounded. It was not a recording perused over for days, touched up here and there, it was a live performance and all the more charming for all that. I hope to see them duetting again soon. (After wrote that sentence, I looked up the word duetting to see if that was right, I found: Duetting: often used to describe animal communication, where the male and the female of a species, especially birds, communicate by singing. So it was absolutely correct after all).
Katrin's own set started off with Pink's "Who Knew?" After a brief sojourn into Britney Spears territory for "Toxic", she sang a song I suspect is not on most people's radar. The throbbing beat of Pumped up Kick's "Foster The People" was strangely hypnotic, however why don't songwriters occasionally bring in the resolve at the end of a song rather than just stop? "One Of Us" is a song written by Eric Bazilian (of The Hooters) and originally released by Joan Osborne. Apparently it is one of the quickest songs he ever wrote and almost threw it away. It has been in Katrin's repertoire for a little while now and it suits her voice, I hope she continues to sing it. Katrin who now lives in Evesham but originates in Belarus gave us a lively end to both her set and the concert with a spirited version of Vance Joy's "Riptide."
I consider it was well worth the effort of going over to The Fusilier for this showcase.
Big Help Music specialise in bringing on young talented performers, with instruction and encouragement in stage craft, microphone technique and all aspects of social media. This is to help them further their careers in the entertainment industry. With several recent top ten entries, their record is second to none and indeed their claim to be the UK's leading brand for artist development is fully justified.
Videos of some of theses performances can be found on my Facebook page, (see the link above).
Tony Collins:Words and Pics
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