Black Girl on the Front Row!



London was perfect.

Reflected rain had pebble-dashed neon-lit pavements, making them sparkle, like carpets of granite, which had captured falling stars.

I chased them to King’s Cross… To ‘Scala’, to be exact and was met by a canopy of umbrellas, huddled together, like close-knit family.

Perhaps I had taken the brief, somewhat, too seriously…foregoing a brolly of my own, for a knit of another kind…Namely, a beanie…Not so much close, but tight and protective, all the same! After all, the ticket said ‘Island Life’…and who was I to go against the vibe?! On reaching the capacious Scala foyer, sweet-talked by warmth and a very welcoming spot in the Frow, I was glad to have taken the risk!

Tonight was going to be about journeys in music and spoken word… The first in a series of hybrid creative experiences, presented by the UK branch of Island Records, showcasing, live and direct, their uber-exciting array of newly-signed talent. By its conclusion, the evening had delivered way above and beyond that!

Seconds were out, spotlights were up and all-girl trio, ‘Juce’ strutted on, decked-out in band-emblazoned boxing robes, ready to give a knock-out performance! Coverings were soon discarded, to reveal Cherish, Georgia and Chalin, rocking slick suits, edgy cut-outs and boho-chic, with mega-platform heels…and, accompanied by their fantastic rhythm guitarist and drummer, a set of eclectic, hook-heavy hits followed!

From-the-get, the combination of bold bass, nimble Nordwave keys and lashings of lyrical toplines rang true of ‘nouveau soultronica’, spritzed with 80’s ‘Southern Freez’ inflections and Nocera’s ‘Summertime’ style. As with each track, the sound simply grew in groove… and, due to the genius rule of 24-hour recording and mastering, employed by Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey, complementary production ensured ultimate audience appreciation of raw perfection, in no-nonsense, distraction-free floor-fillers. Case-in-point, the super-sassy ‘Animal Attraction’, reminiscent of the mesmeric power of Cheryl Lynn’s ‘Got To Be Real’ and internet smash, ‘Call You Out’, both, of which, exemplified the Juce signature of sophisticated sounds that won’t quit, crowned by performances which pin-you-to-the-beat and don’t let go! The entire set was a 101 in ‘getting-the-party-started’, so expect to see and hear more of this electrifying trio, on the coolest fashion frows, in the funkiest videos and on the hottest playlists…and if you don’t, then demand that they set the Juce loose!

With the crowd galvanised, ‘George The Poet’ released zeitgeist spoken word, filled with highs, lows and epiphanies which had pennies and jaws dropping, in awe of his lexical dexterity. Seamlessly bridging-the-gap between driving Maybach-beat progressions and socio-political/economic backdrops, the revered lyricist presented a slice of Island Life, brimming with humour, hood-rats, phone calls, Fatherhood…enveloping listeners within a masterclass of metaphors, similes, puns and punchlines and developing narratives into site-specific theatre. This bard was in his play with words and charged with purpose, in full cognition of the influence with which he had been gifted and determined to put it to the positive use for which he was the vessel. The urgency to pay such energy forward was truly touching and with such intention underpinning his spectacular recitations, even moreso, as strobes lit up faces, through lightbulb moments. Not only were hearts touched, but minds were renewed…and, whilst it is proverbially said to take a thousand voices to tell a story, in collaboration with a collective of superb musicians, George The Poet’s solo spoken vocal left an indellible impression upon all in attendance, which will echo for generations to come.

Songs from the overflow-of-the-heart were in absolute evidence during JP Cooper’s stirring performance. From the plaintive poignance of ‘Oh Brother’ and ‘What Went Wrong’, he and his supporting artistes glazed the air with a flawless falsetto and rhapsodic harmonies. The confession of nervousness made the sonic purity of JP’s vocal all the more incredible! He needn’t have worried. If anything, the admission simply served to endear him to the already-adoring audience, that much more…and they were soon to be further justified in their admiration!

With his favourite guitar cradled in his arms, there was no other dynamic, than to mind-blowingly sing! That which ensued was a litany of beautifully-crafted music, both old and new, expressed through stunningly moving melodies and gentle glissando, doused in delicious, live cello, peppered with delicate percussion and contrasted with turns of sheer sonic power, which definitely kept the quiet out! To that end, the full band arrangement of ‘Oh The Water’ was a standout rendition, with a wonderfully supple bassline that danced from stave-to-stage… The collection was, quite literally, breathtaking… and with Stateside dates imminent, there’s no doubt that JP Cooper’s ‘EP’ will become EP-IC, and his reputation for soul-sharing of the most profound nature will, most assuredly, blossom.

The night was an unforgettable tribute to the rich heritage at Island Records for, both, sagacious talent-spotting and signing, whilst safeguarding a future legacy of genuinely, artist-led creativity. Sade might have crooned about the ‘Diamond Life’ but after the impeccable offerings at ‘Scala’ on Monday night, I’m all about living the ‘Island Life’!


Soul-deep Afrow-Appreciation to:-

Juce, George The Poet and JP Cooper…for sharing your innate artistry, with the utmost exuberance and passion…

Island Records UK, for presenting an utterly outstanding #IslandLife showcase and continuing to develop and support such uniquely creative UK talent.

All at Scala for hosting the event and making us all feel at home, rather than at a venue.

My fellow guests in the audience… It was a privelege to have experienced this awesome event with you all!



‘You know it when you see it’, is a phrase which is often bandied-about, with such frequency, as to become cliché. However, let it be known, that in referring to ethical womenswear-brand ‘Kitty Ferreira UK’, no other phrase will fit-the-bill!

Living-the-dream of designing the range is Founder/ Creative M.D., Valerie Goode, and if ever a moniker described both a person and a mission, it is hers! As I type, the question ‘What qualifies this statement, Afrow?’, is undoubtedly winging its way through to my side of the Blogosphere… Well, my having spent a day-in-the-life with Miss Goode should serve as due qualification!

You see, last week, yours truly was given free-reign of ‘ The Ideal Home Show Christmas’ event, at Earl’s Court! Yes, another wonderful PR Company (in this case, that of ‘Incentive Media’), gifted me a press-pass for the entire 5-day duration and, for an ‘I.H.S Xmas’ newbie, it was AMAZING!!!

Imagine a Noughties-Narnia (except a lot warmer!), lit by an indoor aurora-borealis, a floor filled with stands, as far as the eye could see, scents saturating the atmosphere with the most divine Yuletide fayre and mood-music, apt for retail-merriment! The scene reverted this visitor into a jaw-dropped juvenile, in anticipation of being a tinsel-halo-wearing angel in the Nativity play and sharing memory-making, festive family-fun!

Now, Afrow-Family, follow me to Wednesday 14th, which I have come to address as ‘Kitty Ferreira Day’, in part, because her designs were runway-bound to the Ideal Home Show Christmas Catwalk for an exclusive showcase of exceptional UK design-talent and also because that evening, her collection was to be displayed at a Pop-Up Fashion Exhibiton, curated by online UK-fashion boutique, ‘London Ethnic’ and held at the exclusive private members club, ‘Apartment 58’.

Without further ado, I must explain the riches of Miss Goode’s ‘Kitty Ferreira’ designer label! Heartwarmingly named after her late Grandmother, whom she described to me in one of our many email communiqués, as being ‘fierce like a lion, soft like a cat’, the line comes with this familial brand-boldness, yet delicacy of a bespoke design-aesthetic, which is woven into the warp and weft of every bolt of fabric!

Engrained in the ‘Kitty Ferreira’ ethos, is the stalwart passion to produce high-end pieces, manufactured solely in the U.K, the carbon footprint of which is closely-monitored, due to her personally sourcing top-quality, upcycled materials. Otherwise destined for landfill, these same fabrics, are eco-dyed, in a variety of natural stains, with her latest derived from pomegranates and onion skins, as can be seen in her stunning SS14 garments. As with such tried-and-tested dyeing methods, the beauty of the resultant pieces stems from the drying process, which facilitates unique variations-on-a-theme. Thus, each will be a bespoke creation, perfectly reflective of she who chooses to buy and wear her own idiosyncratic example of craftsmanship.

Following in the tradition of all-things with a bespoke, there is an air of exclusivity to Goode’s goods, bucking-the-trend for batch-process uniformity, whilst helping to save the bucks, with purse-friendly prices! Not only does this serve to satisfy the ‘one-off template’ within us all,  but it is ever-more marvellous to see, at close-quarters, the fruition of harmonic parallels between the ideal of ethical manufacturing and the production of such timeless separates. Furthermore, the fast-turnaround of her ‘luxe-for-less’, limited-edition collections, offered in a rainbow of size-silhouettes, ranging from 6 to 26, only adds to their desirability, whilst perpetuating the element of having acquired something extra special, for one’s wardrobe. It is this desirability which has already seen celebrity-endorsement by such names as ITV Newscaster, Charlene White, and earmarks the trans-seasonal/ transferable glamour of a ‘Kitty Ferreira’ garment as a go-to option, as suited to a high-stakes work environment, as to the atmopshere of a restful afternoon tea or a playful party-vibe!

Pattern-cutting, provided by her highly-skilled assistant, Katie, is a dream-of-precision, underpinning the sublime tailoring which is present in the exquisite apparel. For example, a rich mustard-hued pant, with the most sumptuous pleating detail, is an utter triunph and a joy to see, styled with her sheer, silk ‘Saffron Shirt’ with the signature ‘notch’ pocket. In fact, it was this look, which all-but stole the Ideal Home Catwalk Show, and was one of many which had guests at the London Ethnic fashion showcase, flocking to meet-and-greet her! Having witnessed a selection of the collection in-motion, it is easy to see why so many sought to celebrate the fruits of her creative labour! There is no mistaking Miss Goode’s couturière-eye-for-detail, which is absorbed throughout the design, as expressed through a fine floral motif, here, or a high-necked front, balanced by a revealing backless ‘moment’, for the ultimate in effortless, elevated drama. The overall effect pronounces the ‘Kitty Ferreira Woman’ as one of distinct elegance, presence and allure, with a stylisitic self-awareness and an ability to fearlessly experiment with it.

As Valerie herself says, ”…fashion can tell a story not only based on style or an era, but based on values”*. Thus, the most wonderful element for me, is the fact that one can be safe-in-the-knowledge that a purchase from the line is not just another acquisition, which might, all-too-soon, be forgotten! No, a ‘Kitty Ferreira-wearer will always know that she has made an eco-friendly retail choice, not only in support of the best-of-British manufacturing, but also in contribution to the development and success of one of the best-of-British design-talents.

In Afrow’s words… ‘That’s not simply a Goode thing, but a great thing!’


*  ~ ~ ~

Many thanks to Valerie for inviting me to such a special day and to Incentive Media for inviting me to such a special event!