Friday 26 July 2013

Event Review: #MCXTALENT2013 Pt 2 July 20th!

July the 20th marked the much anticipated MusicConnex’s second showcase of the year. It was refreshing and had an intimate feel to it. As the doors opened people came in pairs, singles and even groups all dressed elegantly. Ladies were in glamorous colourful outfits and the men were looking just as good. An hour before the start of the show you could feel the breeze through the balcony, people bustling and buzzing anticipating the start of the show with Mr Undercover setting the ideal mood with his old school RnB and Soul play list. As the sun set, the candles lit around the bar and the flash lights on the stage completed the mellow setting.

The host Monique Pennie CEO of Purple Reign Public Relations graced the stage stylishly and introduced the line up of the night significantly stressing the south London soul spirit. Some might disagree but as a south Londoner I concur and if you are in doubt I hope the fact that three out of the four ladies on the bill; Reese Robinson, Shan Smile and Shea Soul are all south London based artists will fairly convince you otherwise.

First up was Shan with an acoustic set. Ironically she opened with her track “Smile” which displayed her incredible vocal ranges; a slight low tone yet she also hits high notes. Shan loves the idea of smiling and people being driven expressed in one of her songs “Bite the Bullet”. Lowering the peg on the neck of her guitar she added a Bluesy sound to the track very much reminiscent of India Irie who is one of her idols and she also did a cover of her song “The Truth” exactly like Ms Irie. Personally I think she has a unique sound so I would have loved to hear her do more with the cover and show off her own talent given her undeniable confidence. Her last song “He loves me” was my favourite from her, co-written by her father and his friend who I must say is also a talented musician. Towards the end of the track she did a bit of reggae strumming showing herself as more than a Soul artist!

Next up was Reese accompanied by a full band; keys, drums and bass. Reese has an energetic presence and performs with her whole body it’s like a story; from her facial expressions, hand movements and swaying of her voluptuous hips you are engrossed from the get go. She has that ‘Old but New’ sound so you almost feel like you have heard the songs before. My favourite tracks were “Moods”, and “I Got This” which was her closing track. Lyrically “Moods” made me laugh as it was very honest, there are those days when you are down and cannot be bothered or pretend to be happy. Lastly as a Hip Hop music lover first I enjoyed “I Got This” as she rapped and we were the first audience to hear the song and her rapping which I must say she is pretty good given the fact that she is new at it. She is a true artist who is always pushing their own boundaries and creativity so I cannot wait to hear more of her stuff.

Shea has Soul, fitting to her name. She sings from her heart and writes about things that are dear to her. Her first song “It Should Be You” was a perfect opening track which was a dedication to the same person as her famous track “Where Did you go” which she also performed. I particularly enjoyed the chemistry of her band and the keys player as he occasionally provided some horns to the mix. Brightly dressed bubbling and so free Shea brightened up the night and the crowd could relate to her girlie resonates heightened by her two love tracks “Making Lemonade” and “So High”. Overall I like her Jazzy voice, it’s very different yet interesting in its own way that one cannot help but tap or nod their head as she sings and I spotted Charlene the host for the 1st of June showcase doing just that and showing her support. May her success continue and I look forward to hearing more people buzz about her.

The lady of the night all the way from Texas, Tatiana ‘LadyMay’ Mayfield sealed the show adding a ‘cool’ essence with her blue and silver dress code. The drummer and the drums themselves had their own tone of blue. Of course this was all a coincidence but it summed up the night exclusively. With her trademark flower on the side of her hair she brought in that classic look and you could imagine yourself seated at a Jazz Bar or restaurant like a 1920’s movie. She performed a number of tracks on her album “A Portrait of Ladymay” and I mostly enjoyed “Real” with its solid bass line and constant snare drums complimenting each other. It was also the song that brought her to London after its play on Solar Radio by DJ June Furlong which is not surprising given the station’s musical depth. 

Before she hit the stage she confessed to looking forward to performing her song “Overflow”. She didn’t mention why but during her set she dedicated it to the crowd and London for embracing and making her feel at home. It was as she said; “From my heart to yours”. In the spirit of dedication she closed with a shout out to JM and performed her own version of Jill Scot’s “A Long Walk” for him. My highlight during her performance was her smooth saxophone player. Seeing him fiddle his fingers and creating beautiful tones was very sensual. As for the drummer and the keys player they had their own animated delivery and they made faces throughout. For some this was distracting especially as a Jazz set but for others I am sure they appreciated their sense of amusement. LadyMay is an amazing Jazz singer and hopefully she continues to get the publicity she deserves.

‘Harmonious’ describes the night so well. With JM on the decks in between the performances playing amazing tracks including Charlene’s “Good Day” it was a wonderful concoction. The Soul Connoisseur was at his best spinning as if to himself and occasionally taking a sip or two of his drink while providing the perfect ambiance. I believe it is unfair to compare the two showcases as each night exuded its own atmosphere. The first was “electric” and the July one had a “cool” magnetism but they were both equally successful in their own right. This sets a challenge for the MusicConnex team for their next two upcoming shows in September and I have no doubt that they will raise the bar even higher!

Article by: Gaynor Tutani

Wednesday 24 July 2013

MusicConnex Loves: Lianne La Havas

We are big fans of Lianne La Havas at MusicConnex. So between the team we did not hesitate to catch her at her Somerset House, London gig date and the performance at Lovebox Festival, London this past week.

She was sublime on both occasions. The first time we saw La Havas was on Later with Jools Holland and we were blown away. She was singing 'Age' and it immediately stood out as vocally intelligent as well as creative and emotional. All wrapped up in the charasmstic personality and old school soulful vocal stylings of the stunning Lianne La Havas.

We adore her :) 

Here are some clips...

We hope you enjoyed that! 

Article By: Claire Cripps

New Music: Donell Jones 'Beautiful'

Donell Jones is back! 

He released his latest album 'Forever' earlier this month. 

The latest single is called 'Beautiful' and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It's a stunning R'n'B track with that classic Donell vocal melody line. He really does know how to bottle up love and sprinkle it all over a track. This is simply a fantastic song!

We will be purchasing the album ASAP! 

This week Donell was also announced as part of the line up for 'The Show - Part 2' at Wembley Arena, London on November 16th, 2013. Click here for tickets. A stellar line up not to be missed. Tickets go on sale Friday 26th July 2013. 

Article By: Claire Cripps


Thursday 18 July 2013

Interview: MCX Showcase Part 2 ft Tatiana 'LadyMay' Mayfield

The Texan born Tatiana ‘LadyMay’ Mayfield is certainly a breath of fresh air. With her jazz foundations, soul influences and stunning vocal tone she is definitely a talented young lady. Lady May (as she is named) has been singing and playing jazz music from a young age. She has performed in front of the iconic Al Jarreau, Diane Reeves, Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Kirk Elling in 2010 when she was chosen as one of twelve to compete in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition in Washington D.C. LadyMay has also opened for many well known acts such as Kirk Whalum, Randy Brecker and Dave Valentin. With two albums under her belt; ‘From All Directions’ (2009) and ‘A Portrait of LadyMay’ (2012) she is well on her way to establishing an amazing career.  We recently had a chance to talk to the young songstress before she travels to the UK and get to know more about her.

CC:  What is your first memory of singing?
LM: You know you have the wind up toys/music boxes? I used to sing to mine all the time when I was a little girl. There was a toy in particular that would sing the theme to the movie ‘Babes in Toyland’ and I used to make up a little songs to it all the time. I would sing when I was outside playing and just entertain myself when I was alone and no one else was around. My mom took notice of all of that and was like ‘we might have a singer here’ a lot of times I wouldn’t even realise I was doing it, it would just come out.

CC:  Who are your biggest influences music wise?
LM:  Lets start with my Jazz people; Nancy Wilson, Natalie Cole, Ella Fitgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Diana Washington. On the soul side, I would say Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, all of those people. Jill Scott, I absolutely adore her. I really like Amel Larrieux also. Eric Benet, I love him! I really like Maxwell. I have a big list of people. I love so many people. There have been a lot of artists who have influenced me. Vivian Green is another one. She is excellent.

CC:  How do you go about the songwriting process?
LM: My process is probably a little weird or a little different from others. Even though I am a vocalist I function like more of an instrumentalist. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with how I studied or what it is. I started out singing but I also played trombone all through middle school, I actually started playing piano and trombone at about the same time at about 11 years old. Since then that’s really effected how I write. Generally I will come up with a musical idea. I’ll start with the melody, something simple, and funnily enough a lot of times things come to me in the car. My trip to my job is about 50 minutes so I sing my ideas into my phone, take it home, and add the chord changes to it. So then I’ve got my melody and my chord changes, then after that I’ll just keep that on the brain, get my notebook with all my lyrics in it and start coming up with lyrical ideas based on how the music makes me feel. Is it a dark sad vibe? Or is it bright and happy? Is it in-between? And then I will try and decide what I want it to be about.

Really lyrics are the hardest thing for me to write. I don’t consider myself to be the best lyrical writer. Its such a process for me and with the last album it was the first time that I had put out something which I had written. My own original material. I was so used to doing other peoples material and Jazz standards and I thought ‘you know what, I want to do my own thing and show people that I can compose and write also’. It really depends on what is happening in my life at the time, so for me with that album, there was a lot going on at the time in my life and that album was a reflection of that. It was a very personal experience, which is why I named it ‘Portrait of LadyMay’ because it really was a portrait of me at that time. I tried to capture myself and write on personal experience. What I am trying to challenge myself to do right now is to write on things that aren’t necessarily personal to me but maybe I have friends who are going through something and I try and write about that.

CC:  How did you go about finding your own sound?

LM: I would say that that came quite naturally to me. I’ve always been quite self aware I would say. In how I sound I have always tried to create my own thing. I mean I have a million influences and music was always around me all the time so it was a constant influence but I have tried my best to not sound like someone else. I don’t really think I could, as I am not the best impersonator anyway (laughs) so it did come naturally. I will combine elements from different people I like listening to so you may be able to tell who I’ve been listening to lately but it’s not like a direct thing.

CC:  Describe one of your favourite performances so far?
LM: I would have to say one of my best performances, which I felt really good about - I sing at this club called the ‘Scat Jazz Lounge’ in Fort Worth Texas and it’s a great Jazz club. In the past year my rapport has grown in the area and every time I go there now it sells out, which is such an honour for me! I had a birthday show, I like to do a birthday celebration, I had a show there for my birthday in 2012 and everybody came. Like everyone and their mom showed up! It felt so good that night. The energy was great. Everyone sounded great on the bandstand. I mean I’m very moved by the musicians which are playing with me, we all vibe off of each other and if we don’t have that then its really hard for me to perform the way I want to. I really cherish that musical relationship I have with the guys on stage with me. That night I swear it was magical. The energy in the room was amazing. Everyone that was there really wanted to be there. My family were there, my friends, my teachers were there. I have great relationships with all of my music teachers, my band directors from high school, my voice teacher, my piano teacher, I had amazing teachers growing up, I was very blessed to have that and they were all there. It was so nice.

CC:  With this being the first time you will be performing in the UK, what are you looking forward to the most? 
LM: I have always heard that the warmness of the culture and the people there in London with regard to music is great. I am also really looking forward to meeting people. Looking forward to singing in front of a different crowd, people who have never seen me before. They may have heard of me or may not have. I am really looking forward to more than anything, being seen and heard and welcomed by people that are not from Texas. Its such a different vibe, coming to London. They say that coming to London people really make you feel good and feel welcomed and really listen to you. It depends on where you are, but you don’t necessarily get that here in the States. You may be at a club here and everyone is talking really loud. I mean I’m sure it can get like that anywhere, but my understanding is that audiences in the UK are really appreciative and receptive of artistic music. That’s a big thing for me, sometimes its hard here to find audiences that are receptive of jazz and soul music.

CC:  When it comes to creating your music and writing, how much of a role do the fundamentals of Jazz music play within the process? 

LM: A huge big part of that process! Educationally I don’t feel like I would be able to write the way I do had I not had my jazz education. It’s just a different way to think about and approach composition and writing. It plays a big role in me figuring out how I want the direction of the chords to go, how I want the melody to be. Do I want the melody to be complicated or to be simple? I tend to steer towards simple as its more relatable rather than making it way to complicated so that people are like ‘wait what?’. And honestly my mind doesn’t function in a way that’s that complicated, some people would probably argue with that (laughs) but I really try to write in a fairly simple way with just enough complexity so that it will intrigue the audience. 

CC:  Musically what’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
LM: Don’t be too complicated, be simple. Sometimes simplicity is best. Or pick which parts you want to be complicated. Do you want the music to be complicated or do you want the message to be complicated? Which one is more important for the song?

CC:  What advice would you give to aspiring singer/ songwriters? 
LM: Not to be too cliche here but just be yourself. Be yourself musically.  I have been told so many times in my life ‘oh you sing jazz? No one is gonna dig that! Nobody cares, nobody is gonna like that. You should probably just do something else like pop music or whatever’. I really felt like, if God gives you a gift of something then you make it work for you. I have always felt this is me and I can only be me. If you can stay true to yourself I really believe things will work out for you. The biggest thing I will say is get the education!  There is the big divide in the community between singers and musicians, because a lot of times singers will lack the knowledge that an instrumentalist will have but its so important to seek that knowledge and get it yourself. That education will make your song writing better, you can communicate with musicians better and be able to let them know exactly what you want musically. When you don’t have that knowledge its really hard to communicate with people about how best to treat your music.

CC:  What was the last track you listened to?
LM: Eric Benet ‘Summer Love’ from the album ‘Lost in Time’. His daughter is singing on the track too and it’s a lovely track. I had a weird music week; I’ve been listened to some old school Janet from 1993. Jamming to some Janet.

CC:  What’s your preference: Download, CD, tape or Vinyl? 
LM: I love vinyl’s. There is just something about that whole old school vibe. But I honestly still like CD. I love the booklets. I like to be able to read. People don’t really do liner notes as much as they used to but I love to read all of the liner notes, productions notes, who played on it, who was in the background and the thank you’s. I’m the weird person who reads it all. It’s definitely a lost art form because people aren’t buying CD’s anymore. That’s the only thing I hate about digital music. For example on my album I really wanted to put all the stuff that was on my booklet for the CD, as I had like a 12 page booklet this time, I went all out. I got a guy to do my liner notes. He was a former writer for ‘Down Beat’ and ‘Jazz Times Magazine’ in the States. However I didn’t put lyrics in there because of the space it would take up. I really wanted to make sure that all of that was there in the PDF on the download but I wasn’t able to do it. It’s really difficult for independent artists to include all of that because unless you are with a major, its not supported. I really wanted everyone to see the booklet as I have such beautiful album art work in there. There is a portrait in there which was done by a local painter and its of me and its absolutely beautiful, looks so like me and I have that actually printed on the CD itself. I felt it was so appropriate for the album as it was called ‘Portrait of LadyMay’. I miss that for sure having the album and the liner notes.

CC:  Describe your perfect day? 
LM: My perfect day would be a day where I didn’t have to do anything. I could wake up whenever. Get dressed, listen to some music, have a nice breakfast or something, take my dog for a walk. Talk to friends and family, call my sister and people that I love speaking to. Yeah the perfect day is a day where I have nothing to do (laughs). At this point in my life, honestly I would love to have a day where I could just do whatever. If I wanted to go and hang out at the mall without having to buy something for a gig or I'd like to go meet friends for coffee. I would love to see friends; I don’t have that much opportunity to see friends anymore because life is so busy for everyone. Being able to just completely relax, watch some old movies. I love old black and white movies. Me and my mom will do that together and watch Alfred Hitchcock, which comes on this one station every night at about eleven pm. That would definitely be the perfect end to my perfect day.

It was a pleasure to get the opportunity to speak with LadyMay, she is a wonderfully warm and friendly person with an happy spirit which comes across in conversation even when said conversation is 4000 miles apart over Skype. A true talent who is destined for greatness. We are excited to welcome her to London town and see her perform on the MusicConnex stage this Saturday. 

See you there!

Article By: Claire Cripps

Wednesday 17 July 2013

#MCX Alumni - Monique Thomas

We first met Monique Thomas in 2011 when she appeared as a part of the very first MusicConnex showcase at Under The Bridge. Right from the start we fell in love with her voice, as well as her obvious songwriting talent. The Birmingham native released debut album ‘Unbroken’ in 2011, produced by hit maker Tony Bean (Kelly Rowland) and Monique had a tremendous response to the project. We recently sat down with her to see what she had been up to since we last saw her and what she’s working on now.

CC: Hi Monique, What have you been up to?

MT: I’ve been doing a lot of singing and doing various shows. I’ve been songwriting and also writing quite a lot of dance music. I even had a top ten in Australia! Universal Australia licensed the song ‘Colourful’ and that was released in Australia and Europe. Remixes were done of that track and one of those placed in the Top Ten charts in Australia which was really cool.

CC: What can we expect to hear from you over the next year? 

MT: I’ve also been working on a new project lately. I was able to go full time as a musician in the last few months and we have just started a tour on the 22nd June. This tour is called ‘Full Circle’ and its pre album. I feel like it’s a great chance to introduce myself to people, with this new sound and really get the ball rolling ahead of a new project, which is an album scheduled for release in the spring of next year.

It’s going to be a Contemporary RnB/ Soul album. It’s a real mixed bag in some respects. It’s very different from the previous sound, a very current feel. Writing is so important for me so you’re always going to have great lyrical content. It’s a lot edgier, a lot fresher, and more urban I would say.

CC: As you mentioned, you are already on the ‘Full Circle’ Tour at the moment, what are you most excited for people to hear during this tour? 

MT: Just to introduce myself to people and make people aware of who Monique Thomas is. Being able to connect with people on the live stage is so different. I have a full band with me, which always makes for lots of fun. It’s an opportunity for people to hear and experience the new material but also to understand where I was really coming from with the old material as well. The older sound is not defining me right now and I think it’s really nice for people to be able to see my journey. I’ve been singing for a long time and for a lot of people, they may think I’ve come out of nowhere. I am really looking forward to the London date. 

CC: How can people find out more?

MT: I will be appearing on the London leg of the ‘Full Circle’ tour this coming Thursday (18th July) at Vibe Bar so I would love to see everyone come and get involved with that.

You can also find me: Web/ Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram/ Soundcloud

For press and enquiries, please get in contact -

Special thanks to Monique for taking the time out of her busy schedule to catch up with us ahead of her London tour date this Thursday. Its sure to be an amazing show!

Article By: Claire Cripps

Wednesday 10 July 2013

#MCXAlumni - Chidi

MusicConnex Alumni has been set up to highlight the achievements of artists who has come through our doors and performed at one of our previous showcases.

One such artist and alumnae is Chidi who performed at our 2012 Summer Showcase at Adam Street Private Members’ Club.

Since then, Chidi has launched her album ‘Exhale' which features the hot track 'Wrong Again' and continues to work with various producers on tracks for collaboration projects, compilation albums and a few duet tracks.

She also informs us that she's been working with The One Show Team up and down the country as a Vocal Coach which she is really enjoying; and if that wasn't enough she's also busy on the festival circuit and 
recently performed on the Hip Shakers Stage  at the Isle of Wight Festival on 15th June and left the crowd begging for more!

Check out her official website for all the details of her  forthcoming performances.

Chidi tells us there's a new EP on the horizon due for release later this year. (You heard it here first!)

Well done Chidi. Keep up all the great work.
We’re proud to have you as a #MCXAlumni member.

 Article by: MCX Team


Monday 8 July 2013

Interview: MCX Showcase Part 2 ft Shan Smile

Recently we sat down with the young talent that is Shan Smile. With only a matter of weeks to go until the MusicConnex July showcase where Shan will be taking the stage, she was understandably excited.

Shan Smile is a singer/songwriter from South London. Having attended the famous Brit School, Shan is now studying Music at Middlesex University.

CC: Can you tell us about one of your first memories of singing?

SS: When I was at my Secondary School at a talent competition. I sang 'I love your Smile' by Shanice, which is who I was named after. My sister was also in the competition and it was such a great experience and from that is where my love of music started to grow.

CC: What made you decide you would like to take your training to another level and attend a music school?

SS: I suppose it was going to Chestnut Grove Secondary School and from taking part in competitions and pretty much anything to do with music - I was involved with so much musically, even playing the trumpet in the orchestra, from there I felt like I had reached a limit musically at Chestnut Grove so someone suggested I apply to The Brit School and that's how that started.

CC: What influence has your training at The Brit School had on you as an artist?

SS: A big influence! It's encouraged me to do things for yourself. Taught me about how to work with people and working as a team. It's also made me enjoy it so much more.

CC: Who are your biggest influences music wise?

SS: I have so many. I am influenced by a lot of things and people and artists. I can't really put a finger on it because I have such a big play list. There are so many artists on there. I would say at different times, different people influence me. My dad has definitely introduced me to so many artists; Sam Cooke, Michael Jackson and those types of artists.

CC: How do you go about the songwriting process?

SS: I always sit down and just play my guitar and so much can come from that. Or if i see something happening, or someone going through something, or if I am going through something, I will sit down with my guitar, write and let it flow.

CC: How did you go about finding your own sound?
SS: When I started at the Brit School, I started guitar lessons and it took me about 4 years to learn to play properly and be able to accompany myself. So from that, gigging, writing with people etc, that's where my sound developed. In fact it's still developing.

CC: Describe one of your favourite performances so far?
SS: My launch was on the 22nd of May that was an amazing experience.

CC: How do you get ready for a performance?

SS: I pray and I try to stay happy. I try not to be nervous. I analyse my surroundings to work out how to perform in that space. I rehearse and then just try to enjoy it. You have to enjoy it. That's the most important thing.

CC: If you could collaborate with any other artist dead or alive, who would if be and why?

SS: I would say Michael Jackson or Sam Cooke. Sam Cooke's voice is so touching, I find his voice amazing. The soulfulness of it is just amazing. Michael Jackson? I would have loved to be able to go into the studio and write a song with him.

CC: Musically what’s the best piece of advice you have been given?

SS: No one else can invest in your dream more than you can.

CC: What advice would you give to an aspiring singer/ songwriters?

SS: Practise, practise, practise!

CC: What do you see in your future?

SS: I see more projects being released. Me collaborating with more people. Songwriting and touring I hope.

CC: What was the last track you listened to?

SS: The gospel song 'I Trust You Lord' by Donnie McClurkin or it could've been Chaka Khan!

CC: Describe your perfect day?

SS: In the sun, in the park, with my loved ones, with my guitar, jamming and having a laugh. Oh and food of course!

It was a pleasure to be able to get to know more about this budding talent and we are very excited to see Shan Smile perform at the next showcase! Tickets are available now on the website, we look forward to seeing you there!

Article By: Claire Cripps