Natalie Williams and manager Fran Hardcastle organized a competition for the support slot at Natalie’s EFG London Jazz Festival gig at Shoreditch Town Hall. There were eighty-two entrants, and one outright winner. Fran Hardcastle writes:
Natalie Williams has a reputation for supporting fresh talent. For 8 years, she has used her monthly night at Ronnie Scott’s, Soul Family Sundays, to showcase artists to her dedicated audience of music lovers. Although approached by several artists offering to perform as the support act at her album launch for new album, Kaleidoscope, at Shoreditch Town Hall on 21st November as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival – Natalie decided to choose a support in a more unusual way….
She announced an open competition on her Facebook page, to win the opportunity to perform the support slot. Additionally, as Natalie is a strong believer that all performers should be paid for their work, she offered a £200 fee to the chosen artist. Over 80 artists applied and the competition was shared widely.
To make the competition open and fair, we enlisted some industry friends to form a judging panel to decide on a shortlist from the entrants. Tom Cawley her writing partner for most of the Where You Are album, Amy Pearce, Associate Director of Serious and Bluey Maunick of Incognito joined Natalie and myself to select the final shortlist.
Once announced, we decided to leave it to audience reaction to choose a winner, selecting the artist with the most comments, likes and shares to win. This in turn was to continue to open up the artists work to a wider audience.
There is a clear winner. With overwhelming support from friends and fans in both the UK and Norway, Sarah Evelyn Fullerton is to be the support act for her album launch. Natalie says:
“The competition has been nuts. I didn’t quite expect it to snowball like this and I was blown away by all the talent. I hadn’t heard of Sarah Evelyn before, but all of the judges took a real shine to her. For good reason… She has a stunning voice and very soulful music; a true artist I’d love to hear more of and I’m excited to be sharing the stage with her. The great bonus of running this competition was being exposed to such a variety of fantastic artists. Keep your eyes peeled and ears to the ground because I’m sure many of them will be guesting at Ronnie Scott’s at a Soul Family Sunday night in the not too distant future.”
Sarah Evelyn’s video had over 150 shares, over 400 likes and over 200 comments. The singer recently released her eponymously titled debut EP and is a former student of Berklee College of Music, says:
“I heard about Natalie Williams’ music and the competition through a friend and thought; “Well, I have nothing to lose by posting a video, and what ever happens, happens.” So I did and then I woke up the other day to the best news I’ve heard in a long time! I couldn’t believe that I was one of the 6 finalists, and the support people have showed me has been overwhelming.”
“To other performers out there, I would highly recommend this process. Engaging with other musicians is one of the most pleasurable aspects of working in the music industry. To see this much talent out there has been a real joy”
Jacob Collier will also be sharing the stage with Natalie as special guest at the launch.