What music means to me

What music means to me

I saw a video on Facebook a few days ago in which various musicians like Jamie Cullum and Emilie Sande described what Music meant to them. I thought I’d have a go.

For those of you that don’t know much about me, I am an 18 year old musician and composer from Billericay, Essex, my instruments are Piano, Vocals and Drums my main instrument is Piano. I have been playing Piano from the age of four and started receiving proper lessons when my parents discovered I had the ability to play  by ear,this means I can replicate a song note for note or identify the exact key of a song by listening to it.

Despite having this ability, I cannot fluently sight read sheet music, this has held me back in some aspects of my career , but I have also managed to work with some great people due to the reputation that my musicianship has received over the years.

Now, what does Music mean to me? To be honest, music is all I’ve ever known. Its the one thing that I can confidently say “I am good at this”, I don’t know what I would be doing without my musical ability, I can’t see myself in any other profession besides being in the music field in some respect.

To me, music is the ultimate art of expression. Music has so much power on the human mind it’s almost scary. I work at various carehomes around Essex, some of them specialising in Dementia-only residents and with some of them, you can see that they are connecting with the music, it’s very interesting and empowering to watch.

I’m not saying that other art forms  are not powerful however. I am saying that in my opinion, music is the most powerful art form  out there. When I’m performing, I do feel a certain sense of freedom that I sometimes struggle to find outside of music. Having my musical ability has certainly made me who I am today and I couldn’t imagine doing anything different, my life wouldn’t be the same without it.

The BRIT Awards 2016: Roundup of last nights events

The BRIT Awards 2016: Roundup of last nights events

Last night was the night of the biggest Music awards ceremony in the UK and the world. The BRIT awards certainly shifted up a gear and lived up to the hype. Hosted by Ant and Dec, the famous faces of the Music world came together to celebrate each others success stories from the past year.

The evening was full of star studded performances from Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Jess Glynne, James Bay, The Weeknd, Rhianna and Adele, tears and laughter as the winners of the glorious BRITS was announced and even more laughter when Ant ended up wearing a dress as part of his “costume change”. It certainly was a night to remember!

 

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It all started off with a performance from the Wonderful Coldplay. Performing their latest release “Hymn For The Weekend” they definitely opened the show with a bang. Thankfully, they didn’t get their table destroyed this time. The other performers certainly had something to live up to after this one.

 

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Their performance was followed by the announcement of the winner for Best British Female. Despite the list of incredible nominees, the winner of this one was going to be obvious, Adele picked up this one which would be her first of four awards for the evening. This speech went a lot better than Adele’s last Brits appearance because she didn’t get cut off,she’s learnt to keep it short and sweet.

 

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Following the first award of the night, there was a performance from Mr. Justin Bieber, he sung two songs, both from his latest album “Purpose”. He even invited fellow musician James Bay to play guitar for his first song. I realised how much James resembles Bieber’s actual guitarist from a distance! I thought the performance overall was average, but having Bay on guitar was certainly a nice touch.

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The next award was then announced following Bieber’s performance. Best Male Solo which was presented by Kylie Manaogue, and it was deservedly won by the talented James Bay. I think he deserved this award the most out of all of the nominees,  although I predicted Calvin Harris, I should’ve changed my decision before posting.

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After a short advertisement break, because I wasn’t lucky enough to be in the audience, there came the award for Best International Group. This one was picked up by Australian band “Tame Impala”, I haven’t really heard much of these guys so I can’t really comment as to wether they deserved the award or not, although I thought U2 were definite winners. Tame Impala seemed to have trouble working out which way to face for the camera which was entertaining to witness I must admit, the whole “which way am I looking?” fiasco seemed to continue throughout the rest of the ceremony.

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After this interesting, and slightly disappointing awards acceptance and speech from Tame Impala, we were treated to another live performance. This time we were entertained by the wonderful Jess Glynne, this young lady was nominated for a few awards last night too! I think this performance was the only performance besides Colplay’s that I actually enjoyed so far, Jess clearly has a bright future in Music.

A great show so far! I definitely enjoyed a lot of the performances in the first half of the evening!

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The next award to be announced was Best British Single. This was Adele’s second award of the night which she won due to her single “Hello” which was off of her latest album “25”. So far, so good with Adele not blundering any of her speeches! But not for long!

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This was followed by another award announcement which was Best British Group. Coldplay deservedly won this one, they’ve certainly come back with a bang after taken a brief hiatus. They have returned with a new, modernised sound, it took me a while to get used to the new Coldplay but after listening I found that I actually enjoyed their new twist, you’ve got to keep up with the latest trends after all! They did antagonise some One Direction fans when lead singer Chris Martin signed each member of Coldplay off as a member of One Direction as they left the stage.

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We then had another appearance from last years Critics Choice winner James Bay, this time he was doing a solo set and he smashed it out of the water as he always does, he certainly showed the audience why he deserved to win Best Male Solo this year. I really respected the fact that every instrument he used was live too! There aren’t many musicians in today’s industry that do that.

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We then had the announcement for Best International Male. This was claimed naturally by Canadian, Justin Bieber. This was his first ever Brit award and I’m sure there are many to come. I must say, he didn’t exactly dress for an awards ceremony which I was shocked by, it was a black tie event, maybe Justin didn’t get that memo.

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Next we had a performance from Rhianna and Drake. I’m going to be totally honest here, the performance was complete and utter garbage! It actually made me angry knowing that there were talented artists scratching and clawing for a record deal and then there was this performance from Rhianna repeating the same words over and over again! I don’t see how this was even allowed to be released or how people were cheering instead of booing during this performance, she really has gone down hill! By far the worst moment on this years Brits!

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Once the performance thankfully finished, we had another award. This time it was British Breakthrough, this one was captured by Catfish And The Bottlemen. This was another band that I hadn’t really heard much from in terms of their music, but after checking them out briefly I can agree that they did deserve that award above the other nominees, James Bay was my favourite to win this one but he ended up winning Best British Male so all is fair.

Adele
Singer Adele cries as she accepts the award for Global Success onstage at the Brit Awards 2016 at the 02 Arena in London, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

The next award was unexpected and I didn’t know about it so didn’t make any prediction for it. The award I’m referring to is The Global Success Award. This award is given to the artist that has had the most of global success within the previous year (2015). Naturally, the award was won by the incredible Adele, this was awarded after her crazy success with her latest album “25”.

The way this award was presented was really cool too! As it was called The Global Success award, it made perfect sense to present it from outer space, right? and that’s exactly what happened! The genius production team over at ITV got ahold of Major Tim Peake via satellite and he was able to present Adele with the award literally from outer space! It made Adele cry and swear! This has got to be the coolest moment of the Brits without a doubt!

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Adele sure is cleaning house with the awards this year and it’s no surprise!

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After Adele’s emotional meltdown and Tim Peakes satellite appearance, things shifted back to the performance side of the Brits with a set from X Factor finalists turned female supergroup “Little Mix”. I actually enjoyed their performance and can commend their level of performance integrity to some extent. This is because despite the fact that they were dancing, they were able to sing without having to mime (that much). The reason I added that bracket in there was because they decided to mime the choruses, there was no need to do this at all, they could’ve just minimised the dance routine.

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We then moved on to the International Female Solo, this one had an unexpected turn out for me with winner being, Bjork. I haven’t really listened to any of her music if I’m honest and I didn’t think she would get that award. I was caught between Meghan Trainor and Ariana Grande to be the winner.  Bjork’s acceptance speech also ended up being via satellite because she couldn’t make the ceremony for whatever reason.

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After Bjork’s acceptance speech, we were treated to a tribute to the late Music legend David Bowie. The tribute consisted of speeches from Annie Lennox and Gary Oldman and an incredible musical tribute from Lorde. Lorde performed a spell-bounding rendition of one of Bowie’s greatest hits “Life On Mars”, she sung with her incredible vocals whilst backed by musicians who had played with Bowie for years who done their stuff behind her.

This entire tribute to Bowie was incredibly emotional and touching to watch, it is clear that the industry is still in mourning for one of their leaders. It’s no surprise either, Bowie’s death left a mark on all musical and non-musical people around the world, including myself, he didn’t influence my music as such, but I knew who he was and had huge respect for him and his work.

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Anyone performing after the tribute certainly had an extremely tough act to follow. Thankfully, no one had to stress over a follow up performance straight away as we had the presentation for Best Artist Video. The award was one by One Direction for their music video of “Drag Me Down”.

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Following One Direction’s acceptance, we had a performance from up and coming artist, The Weeknd. I wasn’t completely blown away with his performance to be fair. Obviously, everyone sounds amazing on a studio record, but I was really hoping for something more than we got when watching his performance, disappointed is an understatement and it’s a shame really, I’ve always liked The Weeknd’s music. It just goes to show that you don’t always get live, what you hear on a record.

British singer and songwriter Adele accepts the award for best British female solo artist at the BRIT Awards at the O2 arena in London
British singer and songwriter Adele accepts the award for Mastercard Album Of The Year at the BRIT Awards at the O2 arena in London, Britain February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

After The Weeknd’s anti-climactic performance, we got to witness the final and biggest award of the night, the award that every artist seated at The Brit’s wants to win! the Mastercard Album Of The Year! I’ll give you three guesses as to who won? Of Course it was Adele with her most successful album yet “25”. This album is honestly incredible, a track by track CD of genius that more than deserves Album Of The Year!

And Finally, the night ended in spectacular and perfect fashion with a flawless performance from the FOUR TIME Brit winner Adele! she performed her latest single from “25”, “When We Were Young”. It was the perfect way to end the perfect show! I really enjoyed watching and writing about this years BRIT awards and I cannot wait until the next ceremony!

 

The BRIT Awards 2016: Who will win what?

The BRIT Awards 2016: Who will win what?

The most notable music award is back for another year, and there are more artists looking to get the prestigious BRIT award. I’ve taken the time to list my predictions about who will win what. Here is what this years award will look like:

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They look pretty cool, a lovely tribute to the late David Bowie. I will be watching intently and making sure to blog as to wether my predictions are correct. I hope that at least some are correct!

Here are the nominations and my predictions for the winners:

British artist video

This award goes to the artist with the best music video, the nominations are:

Adele – Hello

Calvin Harris & Disciples – How Deep Is Your Love

Ed Sheeran – Photograph

Jessie J – Flashlight

Little Mix – Black Magic

Naughty Boy Ft. Beyonce & Arrow Benjamin – Runnin’

One Direction – Drag Me Down

Sam Smith – Writings On The Wall

I predict that the winner will be Adele with Hello. The song itself is amazing, the way it is relatable to so many people is what really strikes me in not only this song but in all of Adele’s music. Not to mention her vocals are still incredible! The video also compliments the track and was very well done by the producers.

 

British Breakthrough Act

This award is given to the act that is thought that have made a significant impact within their own career, the nominations are:

James Bay

Catfish & The Bottlemen

Jess Glynne

Wolf Alice

Years and Years

I predict that the winner of this award will be James Bay. He has certainly made an impact on the UK Music scene this past year and more than deserves this award.

British Male Solo Artist

The clue is in the name for this one, this award is given to the best male solo artist of the past year. The nominations are:

Aphex Twin

Calvin Harris

Jamie XX

Mark Ronson

My prediction is: Calvin Harris

British Female solo artist

This award is the female version of the male solo, the nominations are:

Adele

Amy Winehouse

Florence + The Machine

Jess Glyyne

Laura Marling

I think this one is rather obvious, I predict that the winner will be Adele.

British Group

This award is given to the best British group, the nominations are:

Blur

Coldplay

Years and Years

One Direction

Foals

I predict that the winner will be: Coldplay. With the release of their latest single, they have made quite an impression on me, I’m liking their new found direction.

British Producer Of The Year

This award is given to the best British producer, the nominations are:

Charlie Andrew

Mark Ronson

Mike Crossey

Tom Dalgety

I predict the winner will be Mark Ronson, notable for his collaboration with Bruno Mars with Uptown Funk.

British Single

Adele – Hello

Ed Sheeran & Rudimental = Bloodstream

Elle Goulding – Love Me Like You Do

James Bay – Hold Back The River

Jess Glynne – Hold My Hand

Little Mix – Black Magic

Olly Murs Ft. Demi Lovato – Up

Phillip George – Wish You Were Mine

Years & Years – King

I predict the winner will no doubt be Adele with her return single “Hello”. A stunning track as has already been said.

Mastercard Album Of The Year

The Mastercard album of the year goes to the artist with the best album. The nominations are:

Adele – 25

Coldplay – A Head Full Of Dreams

Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

James Bay – Chaos and The Calm

Jamie XX – In Colour

Again, my winner would definitely be Adele! She’s made a stunning comeback since having her baby and operation, I’m certainly glad to see fresh work from her!

International Male Solo Artist

This award is given to male solo artists from other countries such as America. The nominations are:

Justin Bieber

Drake

Father John Misty

Kendrick Lamar

The Weeknd

My predicted winner is Justin Bieber. With a fresh new album out this year with a more mature sound and attitude, his catching the attention of people who at first, hated him and his music. He has really turned his career around.

International Female Solo Artist

This one was slightly harder to choose, I’ll admit. The nominations are:

Ariana Grande

Bjork

Lana Del Ray

Courtney Barnett

Meghan Trainor

My predicted winner is: Meghan Trainor, she’s certainly written some catchy songs this year so she seems a likely candidate for winner.

International Group

This is the final award on the list, I had to do some research into this one because some of the groups I hadn’t heard of before. The nominations are:

Alabama Shakes

Eagles Of Death Metal

U2

Major Lazer

Tame Impala

My final prediction is that the winners of this award will be U1. These guys have been around forever and certainly deserve to win this one!

Those are your predictions from me for the upcoming BRIT Awards 2016! The will air on ITV 2 on 2th February! Be sure to tune in and root for your favourite artist! Also make sure you come back here on Friday as I will be posting my round up of the awards, giving my opinions on performances and wether I think the awards winners deserved their wins!

 

 

 

 

Kesha Vs Sony: The most sickening legal battle in the industry to date?

Kesha Vs Sony: The most sickening legal battle in the industry to date?

Remember Kesha? The singer famous for the song “Tick Tock”? If you’re like me, you’ve been wondering where she got to for all of these years, why hasn’t she made anymore music for so long?

Here’s the reason, back when she was just eighteen years old, Kesha reported that she had been sexually assaulted by music producer Dr. Luke. After reporting the incident, it went to court for a long time, so long in fact that it got to the point where Kesha didn’t even care if Dr. Luke got put into jail. That is shocking to write, a woman comes forward about something that is demoralising and scary and she doesn’t even get the justice she deserves!

Kesha hasn’t made any music since 2014 purely because she doesn’t want any reason to go near her attacker, and who can blame her? It is a great shame that someone who clearly had a bright future within the music industry had her career and life wrecked by someone who she was meant to be able to trust, it really does sicken me.

Now, Kesha is signed to major record label, Sony. Naturally, a big label is going to support their artists, especially with something this serious, right? WRONG! Because of how long the court battle was taking, this damaged woman decided that she didn’t care about Dr. Luke’s jail time, she just wanted her contract with Sony nullified so that she could continue her career elsewhere. Shockingly, Sony refused and Kesha was in yet another legal battle she clearly wasn’t in very good chances of winning.

To me, having her contract nullified is perfectly reasonable! If I were the head of Sony, I’d probably offer to have her contract annulled, I’d sure as hell be more supportive! Sure, I understand that the label most likely poured lots of money into Kesha’s career, but it’s not like they wouldn’t be able to make it back! They’re one of the only major record labels left! Besides, money isn’t the issue here, that label should be more focused on helping their artist get justice!

I’m writing this from the perspective of a musician rather than a blogger and honestly, as a musician whose trying to break into the industry, I’m petrified and baffled. How can a supposedly major label who are meant to care about their artists, not just abandon Kesha on a moral support level, but take her to court to make sure she doesn’t get out of her contract? All that woman wants, is to make music again, use her talent and do what she loves!

There really aren’t any words that could really describe my anger and disgust in the detail I wish to, and that is unfortunate. However, I will say that everyone in and out of the music world is supporting Kesha and her fans, friends and family are behind her 100 percent. I just hope that she’ll be able to make music again someday. One thing is for sure, if I ever get offered a Sony Contract, I’ll be burning it before their very eyes.

FREE KESHA! ❤

 

Artist Spotlight: Isaac Gracie

Artist Spotlight: Isaac Gracie

Isaac Gracie is a 21 year old singer/songwriter from Norfolk, UK. I first heard of him when browsing the unsigned music blog Drunkenwerewolf.com and he immediately caught my attention with his song “Last words”. This is the song that launched Gracie’s musical career, grabbing the attention of various industry publications of high stature, and rightly so!

I’ll admit that when first listening to “Last Words”, it took me a while to get into the music and lyrics but after being patient and allowing myself to fully indulge in this acoustic masterpiece, I could completely understand why Isaac’s reputation was gradually soaring through the roof! You wouldn’t believe this, but this piece of musical bliss was actually made on Garageband in his bedroom! This just shows that you don’t need crazily expensive high end musical technology if you’ve got raw talent like Gracie has!

Isaac is going to be starting his first ever UK tour from the 18th February with the first date being in Manchester and progressing throughout the UK. This young man certainly deserves the recognition he is getting of late and I really hope to hear his soothing tones on mainstream radio very soon! I’ll also be expecting an album release sooner than later and of course, I’ll review it, along with any future releases!

You can take a listen to “Last Words” for yourself here:

Isaac’s social media links (follow for more updates and music)

 

How to increase your stage presence

How to increase your stage presence

First of all, what is stage presence? Stage presence is having the ability to command the attention of an audience through the way you act on stage. Having good stage presence is one of the most important things to master (besides your musical instrument) if you wish to have consistently great and memorable performances.

As a keys player, for me, being able to having good stage presence can be a challenge since I’m stuck behind my keyboards and unable to move around the stage. However, there are other techniques I have adopted to increase my stage presence, and these are the techniques I am going to share with you today.

1. Interact with the audience!

The audience are there to watch you perform and enjoy themselves, sure they will enjoy your music but it has been proven that an audience enjoys a performance if they can relate to the performer on a more personal level. You have to have charisma if this technique is to work to it’s full potential, introduce yourself after your first one or two songs and explain what you’re about, the audience will appreciate the feeling that they’ve met you before!

Once you’ve done this, try ask the audience to do something! Get them to sing along to a song or even simpler, get them to clap their hands. They’ll enjoy your show a lot more if they feel like they’re allowed to get involved and it will also make you more memorable.

2. Make it obvious that you are enjoying yourself!

This one sounds like a given for most but you’d be shocked at how many acts I’ve seen that just stand there and sing into the microphone. These sorts of people bore me beyond comprehension! I understand that some performers struggle with confidence which is why they are so rigid when performing but eventually that should fade with practise, the more gigs you do, the more confident you’ll become!

Try moving around a bit during your performances, take the microphone out of the stand and walk about the stage, this doesn’t seem like much to some but it is 100 times better than just standing there! Obviously, as a keys player I can’t more about the stage so instead, I nod my head or “headbang” as some people call it! I also communicate verbally with the odd “woo” or something of that kind, it’s difficult to explain using words but it does add to my performances and helps the audience enjoy my sets, these ideas apply to drummers as well seeing as they also can’t move away from their kit.

3. Go into the crowd!

Trust me, audiences feed off of this technique! If you’re able to do so and it’s safe, go into the crowd and interact with them that way, shake their hands, sing to them. It really works a treat because they feel even more drawn into the show which will of course make them have even more of a blast, which is objective for the night, to make sure your audience have a good time!

A bit of a warning for this one, make sure that it is 100 percent safe to do this during your set, in other words, only do this if you are using a WIRELESS microphone! It’s all well and good thinking that a wired one would be long enough to sustain the crowd walking , but you really don’t want to take that risk of getting snagged by the wire and causing accidents! I would also pre-warn/double check with the venue that it is okay to do this, just in case theres some form of health and safety guidelines that you’re not aware of.

4. One final tip

If you’re struggling to find inspiration with regards to stage presence, take a look at the live performances of well known musicians! One artist in particular whose stage presence I admire is Jazz musician Jamie Cullum, he does all sorts of crazy stuff throughout his performances, he’s favourite thing to do is to jump off of piano’s, look him up! seriously I think some of you would appreciate his performances and music!

 

Feature image credit: http://www.rockinggodshouse.com

My favourite acts from YPS 2016

My favourite acts from YPS 2016

Last night I attended and performed at Young Performers Showcase 2016. The annual event run by Jamie Bartlett of Miximus Entertainment is a showcase and celebration of young talent from around Essex. I have performed at this event twice now and the standard of talent has become crazier every single year! I’m going to take this opportunity to list and talk about my favourite acts from last night, in no particular order.

Macauley Elvin

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Macauley Elvin is an 18 year old singer/songwriter based in Essex. He has recently been working with London based company Charthouse Music writing original material in preparation for the release of his E.P.  He debuted one of his most recent singles “Make This Happen” and what a great song it is! Catchy, upbeat and memorable! I have to say, his stage presence and vocal ability have improved ten fold since he started working with Charthouse and he has really come out of his shell. He certainly blew me away last night, this man has got a bright future ahead of him!

Macauley’s social media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Macauley-Music 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MacauleyMusic

Grace Farmer

Grace Farmer is a 14 year old singer. She informed the audience last night that she had only been singing for around a year and a half. This was my first time seeing Grace perform and I was really taken aback by her vocal ability considering how long she had been singing for. She nailed a cover of Adele’s “Hello” to start with and then finished up with a brilliant take on “Trouble” by Jennifer Hudson. I hope to see Grace at various other events around Essex soon, she’ll be up there with the best if she sticks at it!

Grace’s social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GraceAnneSinging

Beaux Beatz

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Beux Beats are a young vocal group from Essex, they’ve also only been together for a short time but you wouldn’t’ve been able to tell! The harmonies were so tight and on the money you’d think that they’d been together practically since birth! They’re stage presence and confidence was like none I’d seen from a group of youngsters, they interacted with the crowd and even had a dance routine to go along with their performances, they basically have the full package and are going to rise through the ranks very quickly and I predict that they are going to take the music industry by storm!

Beaux Beatz online:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Beaux-Beatz

Liberty Grant

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Liberty Grant is a 13 year singer who is really taking the Essex music scene by storm of late! Having released her debut E.P. Louder and also being verified on Facebook recently, things are really starting to shape up nicely for this young talent! It’s no surprise either considering how well she performed last night, smashing both of her songs out of the water and leaving me and the rest of the audience fixated on her until her very last note. My favourite of her two songs had to be her cover of one of the most challenging songs out there to date Sia’s hit “Chandelier”, she sung it in the original key and hit every note with upmost precision! Big things on the way for this young star!

Liberty’s social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LibertyGrantOfficial/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/libertygrantuk 

That’s a wrap! The following people in the above post were my top acts at last nights Young Performers Showcase!

*** DISCLAIMER ***

This article is purely based on my personal opinion and does not reflect the abilities of any of the other acts not mentioned in this post! EVERY SINGLE ACT was outstanding, these were just my personal favourites, no offence or ill will intended.