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Black Girl on the Front Row!

Tag: ARTIST

“A FAIR TO REMEMBER!”

I’ll say this

…for now, only once (with advance apologies for repetition to the affirmative, in future posts!), but, with regard to fairs of the Fine Art ilk, 2014 has, to my mind, been the strongest year, yet.

From ‘Works On Paper’ at the awe-inspiring Science Museum, ‘The Other Art Fair’, (or TOAF), with its ever-edgy takeovers, at The Old Truman Brewery and Ambika P3, through to ‘The Independent Artist Fair’, (or TIAF, not to be confused with TOAF!), only the pitch-of-a-stone from Brick Lane and encouragingly organic and lo-fi, the common denominator has been the ability to maintain creative integrity for all artists involved, whilst simultaneously harnessing the entrepreneurial energy, worthy of a well-loved and respected developing ‘cottage industry’ template.

Take, for example, the aforementioned, ‘TOAF’.

It stays cerebrally locked since, in one fell swoop, its Director, Ryan Stanier, has successfully orchestrated a move to combine the best of the Creative Arts and simultaneously do away with the stereotypes of a world, exclusively inhabited by those of a certain socioeconomic background. Having attended a healthy amount of Private Viewings, it is clear to see that, as per the inclusive nature of the creative energy, itself, all walks are, not only welcomed and encouraged, but, in fact, vital to the lifeblood of this event-model. Founded in a desire to expose the wide range and eclecticism of Art at its highest level and reflected by the practitioners selected, the experience is paramount… Thus, the propostion of meeting and greeting with inspirational emerging and established talent, seeing their work within buildings which mirror the dynamism of the artistic energy they will house and adding culinary and musical fayre to maximise ‘the vibe’ (and rival any top London nightspot), becomes immensely exciting and enticing!

Let me make it clear, that the zeal-for-zeitgeist is not to the detriment of an authentic desire to simply share and engage on a holistic level. Kinetic to kinaesthetic, Stanier employs the diversity of Arts and crafts them into an authentic dialogue between maker and potential buyer, whilst managing to dissipate any pressure to consume, through the lively rendering of the backdrop of London culture. It is intense as it is genius! As if to compound the vision for ‘all-access-Art’, TOAF was a brand-partner at the recent ‘Off The Rails’ menswear event. Held, once again, at The Old Truman Brewery, it served to blow the doors off the image of an ‘apparel man-cave’, rather, embodying a treasure-trove of classic and contemporary collections for the modern man…Naturally, this was an absolutely perfect fit, vis-a-vis promoting the cross-fertilisation of complementary accoutrements for such lifestyles. Attending the four-day event was a distinct pleasure, made all-the-more amazing, by the speed of site-turnaround, given that the venue had played host to TOAF, less than a fortnight prior!

It is this marriage of a sensibility to multi-platform creative expression and a supreme logistical skillset, underpinned by sharp media-savvy and the pure passion of their manifestion, which has resulted in the rise of bringing art to the masses. If the round-the-block queue at TOAF’s last event was anything to go by, the popularity is only set to increase…meaning greater exposure to even greater artistic talent…and that is fine by me!!

©AFROW2014-2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Other Art Fair

The Independent Artist Fair

Works On Paper Fair

Off The Rails

The Old Truman Brewery

‘KISS MNEK!’*

…No, I’m not suggesting that you run up and plant one on him, but after you hear the sophisticated sounds of the amazing music-maker to whom I am about to introduce you, I think you might just want to give him a huge hug, in gratitude!

So, who’s all the fuss about?!

Well, his name is Uzoechi Osisioma Emenike… ‘MNEK’, for short, and not only is this prolific maestro putting the South London area of Catford on the music map (as well as his Twitter profile), but he’s also stamping a serious indentation upon the recording industry!

So, why all the fuss, then?!

It’s all because this teen is making some bold creative statements!

From high-rise, ‘hi-top fade’ hairdo (reminiscent of ‘Kid’, from seminal New York 90’s hip-hop duo, ‘Kid ‘n’ Play’), to the powerfully resurgent, afrocentric raiment and the energetically ‘graff-ic’ Keith Haring-èsque video, MNEK brings a uniquely, on-trend polish, to echoes of a treasured audiovisual era.

However, don’t get too lulled into nostalgia, because comparisons with such monosyllabic-monikered, superstar singer/songwriter/producer/remixers as Pharrell and (by all at Afrow-H.Q) our very own, Omar (living soul legend and MBE, with whom, MNEK bears a striking tonal resemblance), are bang up-to-date! These parallels are, part dedication, to learning his craft, (the seeds of which were sown at a young age), and part, distinctive ability to consolidate this honed knowledge and create poised tracks, firstly for, and then with other artists, amongst them ‘Little Mix’, ‘Duke Dumont’ and ‘Rudimental’ and now, on his own elegant, yet emotionally-charged, debut single ‘I Wrote A Song About You’.

It’s more than a song though…

It is, in fact, A C21st lament, layered in a musical mille-feuille of sublime topline and dulcet harmonies, against a backdrop of subtle chord progressions and percussive interplay, which seep into your soul-conscious, as only a classic hit can.

With MNEK’s burgeoning giftings coming to the fore, anticipation is palpable for a follow-up from this hotly-tipped U.K talent and, with a sell-out perfomance imminent at East London’s ‘Oslo’, (fast becoming the go-to venue for artist/label launches), expect pitch-perfect reviews, to-the-autotune-of ‘rising global star’, to follow!

~

MNEK:-

‘WROTE A SONG ABOUT YOU’ (via YouTube/ Vevo) ~ PRE-ORDER ON iTUNES! (GENERAL RELEASE 31/08/2014)

SOUNDCLOUD ~ FACEBOOK ~TWITTER ~ YOUTUBE

OSLO

OMAR: ‘The Man’ (via YouTube)

PHARRELL

~

GLOSSARY

*’Kiss m’neck’ = A colloquial term, used in Afro-Caribbean parlance, to emote surprise.

©AFROW2014-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

MUSIC PREVIEW: ‘HANGIN’ WITH MR COOPER!’

The “Kensington Roof Gardens” are akin to an urban Eden.

I had the distinct fortune of visiting the rooftop hideaway, many moons ago, to partake of the most scintillating spoken word… assimilating every ardently-annunciated utterance, as the flora and fauna absorbed the excitedly-expelled carbon dioxide. I recall the burning sun receding into a see-through veil of dusk, yielding, only, to a blanket of deep, blue-velvet night. I yet decipher shadowy fronds, as face-paints, dancing upon the animated musculature of smiles… At such altitude, with no visible separation from the sky, it seemed as though the celestial had reclaimed the earthen territory…

…in readiness to, one day, welcome a soul-sentinel, by the name of John Paul Cooper.

He is human, yet he houses a falsetto, that is unquestionably real…Mortal, yet in possession of a glissando which glitters through a vocal range, not disimilar to the aurora borealis. His, is an authenticity of melodic articulation which, when harmonised with a pure palette of heartfelt emotion, sees something of the divine settle upon a crowd. From polished renditions of such classics as “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You”*, by the legendary Angie Stone, with whom he has just completed a celebrated UK tour, to the melifluous fervour of “The Only Reason”**, J.P. Cooper is a troubadour-of-truth from beyond the harbour of the clouds.

Fitting, then, that this Friday 16th May, The Roof Gardens should be the home to cradle this wonderfully humble and uniquely- purposed talent… Oh to be a fly, on the leaf of a wall, near the stage, to witness this down-to-earth superstar, from the stars…

‘T’would be a beatific blessing, indeed!

*”I Wish I Didn’t Miss You”: http://youtu.be/mOtgEf_ggLg (via YouTube) ~ **”The Only Reason”: http://youtu.be/GadLKCzw670 (via YouTube :Kevin Thomas)

 www.roofgardensclub.com ~ www.facebook.com/jpcoopermusic ~https://twitter.com/JPCooperMusic ~ www.jpcooper.bandcamp.com

(Join every platform, ‘like’ every profile…because you’ll love J.P. Cooper forever!xx)

©AFROW2014-2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

***

TWITTER-TESTIMONIAL FROM @JPCooperMusic!

‘Possibly the nicest thing anybody has ever said about me… Thankyou.. Beautifully written… xx’

SPOTLIGHT ON: ‘THE 24 HOUR PLAYS CELEBRITY GALA’… A SENTIMENTAL RETROSPECTIVE!

Dearest Afrow-Family, as I compose this, my newest post, somewhere, there is ensuing, a hive-of-activity, a buzz-of-excitement, a thrill-of-the-theatrical-chase! The location for the epicentre of this explosion-of-anticipation, is one of the cornerstone venues of the UK, if not global, Theatrical Arts arena, namely, our beloved Old Vic!

Yes, this weekend, will see well-known faces of stage and screen, join artistic forces and flex creative muscles with a tantalisingly team of writers and directors, themselves amongst the industry’s finest emerging and established talent, to produce ‘The 24-Hour Plays’, one of the most exhilerating, multi-discplinary rollercoaster-rides upon the Cultural/Creative Arts mustsee list!

Past years have seen a plethora of stars, old-guard and new, showcasing the best of edge-of-your-seat collaborations, somewhat metamorphosing into a combined vanguard, for the elemental nature of stagecraft. Such names as Josh Hartnett, he of the melifluously Robeson-esque tones, Sally Phillips, she of the razor-sharp witticims and Mackenzie Crook, he, the rascal of genuis comedy-timing, have deigned to take the bull that is the ’24 Hour Plays’ event, by the horns and subdue it over an evening of live performances, so palpably immediate, as to be ignited by raw flint!

This year’s participants, who will include the indefatigable, Clive Rowe, the understatedly sublime Tom Ellis, the creative powerhouse, who is Catherine Tate and a rising-star, with quite the most captivating screen-presence, Douglas Booth. The list of celebrities does not tail off and, consistent with the unpredictability of the process, will surely serve-up some of the most delightfully unusual casting combinations that the audience in-attendance might ever have the pleasure to see!

To compound the hub-bub, akin to that of a Hollywood premiere of a hotly-tipped, award-winning movie, is the fact that this year also marks the 10th Anniversary of the fundraising gala. No pressure then!

So what if, as an actor, you have to sit in a room with a prop, share it with other new faces, except that they’re not new faces, because you already know who they are, having racked-up, between them, a C.V the likes of which you couldn’t dream-up?! So what if, as a writer, you are to take that prop and reversecram a vignette, which will, hopefully, interlock seamlessly with all of the other five scenes?! What of the fact that you have to pull an all-nighter, in order to release said work-of-written-art?! Or even that there’ll barely be enough time for writer’s block?! Who cares, that it is all to be nursed-and-rehearsed, then presented infront of a kindly-donating audience of savvy theatre-going witnesses?! Oh and why should it be in-the-slightest bit bothersome that the Social Media-Readers can ride, side-saddle, with every second of progress?!

Forming, storming, norming and performing in a 24 Hour group-dynamic, for one night only?!

NO. PRESSURE. AT. ALL!!!!!

Well, having attended, myself, I know that it was pressure-filled, but that, evidently, this was the kind of pressure which caused the artists to yield control, dig deeper than ever before and share the journey towards the birth of theatre-like-no-other! I had the privelege of seeing the entire arc-of-vision, from backstage tours which allowed we band-of-happy-guests to see the performers working through scripts on their own, as well as being face-to-face with the very boards upon which so many greats had trodden, and which would soon become the home of skilfully-crafted creativity, with an intensely off-the-cuff edge!

The very year I attended, I remember walking with other guests, extremely gingerly, past an actor, himself, sat staring into the distance, as if in his own incredible world of moment-to-moment brainfreeze, interspersed with absolute recognition of his lines! It was, right then, that the realisation dawned upon me of being an honoured party to the condensed version of this ‘artist’s way’… and although, prior to the day, I had been enthusiastic about what was to burst its way into my psyche, it rapidly stepped onto my mental-plane and took subsequent flight!

My chosen outfit of a floor-length, champagne-coloured, spaghetti-strapped, ballerina dress, with draped bodice and an acreage of tulle skirt, had also flown all the way from New York City, and was accompanied by a matching pair of crystal-embellished high-heels, an iridescent, sheer pashmina, matching oyster-shell satin purse, with gold chain, a selection of pearl jewellery and a shower of Coco Chanel! My hair was gently encouraged into a delicate chignon, with a few wisps and tendrils, teased for texture… My chosen transport? A good old London Cab!

The show, itself, was…well…out-of-this-world! Filled with emotional highs, lows and turning points…and that was just the introductionEvery excited synonym, possible, sat upon the lips of the adrenaline-fuelled audience. We all knew what the rules of the ‘game’ were, but the improvisational quality of the experience meant that all of the rules had been jettisoned out of the fourth-wall window.. We all knew that too! No longer were we ‘audience members’, but, fellow participants.. Co-creative-cathodes, emitting empathetic energy! Thus, when one actress forgot her lines, looked out at us, declared, ‘Oh, I can’t do this’ and proceeded to retrieve the script and read, verbatim, through the scene, she received rapturous applause, not, as one might think, because she had been defeated, in any way, shape or form…but because she had made an absolute triumph of the moment, and enjoyed the freedom of being able to do so! In this context, it all made utter sense and gave rise to a certain bonding, such as I haven’t experienced in quite the same way since. The post-show party was an entirely relaxed, yet, highly elegant affair, with artists and guests mingling and dancing away until way into the wee, small post-24-hours hours!! I have no doubt that 10th anniversary celebration of this uniquely glitzy gala will be even more impressive, especially being held at the luxurious 5* Rosewood Hotel!

 Whilst embraced by glamour, The 24 Hour Plays model, is an ingenius medium, through which we are blessed to see expressed, what I believe to be at the foundation of all great experiences… At the root, is the courage to fly-by-the-seat-of-one’s-pants (be they of the exquisite YSL cigarette-silhouette, or a nonchalantly loose-legged, denim-flared DKNY variety), and to have faith that, not only is there potential for all of those experiences to come together for the good, but also, that these combined episodes, en-route, will contribute to an amazing ‘mosaic-of-moments’, which we, with true feeling, can all call ‘real life’.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to support The Old Vic by snapping up one of the few remaining tickets, getting your best bib ‘n’ tucker on and going… Black Cab, optional, of course!

©AFROW2013-2019  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

http://www.oldvictheatre.com/the-24-hour-plays-celebrity-gala/

www.rosewoodhotels.com

‘STYLE HAPPENS SOONER, ON ‘LATER’!’

We have a lot to thank Mr Jools Holland for! Not only does he bring us the most eclectic of live, global musical offerings, from established and emerging artists, alike, but with them, come a plethora of stand-out, sartorial selections, from the style-spectrum! For instance, you’re as likely to see and hear the hauntingly melodic, ‘Amadou and Mariam’, bedecked in bold, traditional Malian dress, playing in the-round, as you are the infectiously-anthemic synth-pop of ‘M.T’, in their eponymous multi-coloured, tie-dye-tees!

Case-in-point has to be a recent episode, featuring, Goldfrapp, James Blake, Franz Ferdinand and Kanye West!

 Backlit in a pure-gold aura and engulfed, full-length, in a column of black chiffon-drapery, the ever-ethereal, Alison Goldfrapp, held the audience, spell-bound with her melifluously reed-like, vocal perfomance of ‘Annabel’. The timeless gown, simultaneously, captured her effortless, idiosyncratic grace, whilst also paying homage to SS14 runways, with its pintuck-peephole bodice.

The unnervingly-talented James Blake delivered an equally-classy rendition of the stunning ‘Retrograde’. With hair, windswept, in defiance of the stillness generated by his unfolding-wall-of sound, he was an example of understated style, surrendering to sonic substance. In a ‘1-800 Dinosaur’ T-shirt-and-jeans ensemble, Blake also seamlessly combined product-placement of his new record label and a pinpoint performance, with ease and flair.

In stark juxtaposition, was the riff and quiff-friendly, Franz Ferdinand. Already well-known for their unique fashion statements including the sharpest of Savile Row-silhouettes, the band showed that they had lost none of their couture-creativity, teaming the gusto of, lyrically, ‘right words’ with the ‘right action’ of donning fashion-forward Hawaiian-prints with rock-a-billy attitude! Very D-Squared-2!

Kanye West’s performance of ‘Bound To’, with the outstanding ‘Uncle’ Charlie (Gap Band) Wilson, more-than-referenced the fact that he had graduated, magna-cum-laude, from the School-of-FROW! The ‘College Drop-Out’ star stamped his artistic authority on the programme, with all of the swagger for which we have come to love him. Punctuating the pitch-black studio with dramatic spotlighting, which served to accente his choice of a laid-back, layering trend, a play-on-neutrals of black ribbed-tee and low-slung, loose-fit, trousers, was complemented by a three-quarter length, khaki parka and desert boots in a pop-of-camel-colour. The entire look was topped-off by the trademark, heavy-gold, diamond-set, belcher-link chain, de rigueur for ushering in SS14’s metallic forecast! Uncle Charlie was certainly in-the-house, with his own, distinguished, take on double-denim, accessorizing with shades, as blacked-out as the windows on a one-off, customised Bugatti! It was, undoubtedly, a fitting backdrop to the soaring, silky-smooth, vocal-runs and devastating musical prowess of such a living-legend of U.S Funk/R&B!

So, the next time you tune into ‘Later… with Jools Holland’, keep an eye out for a new class of ‘artist-interpretations’… I think you’ll find that, on closer inspection, they are, in fact, rather more original!

©AFROW2013-2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED