It’s no secret that UK soul is having a moment right now.
A clutch of artists who pilfer from Stateside R&B, vintage soul, gospel, and aspects of UK club culture – think deep house and UK garage – have emerged, each with their own individual take on what ‘soul music’ constitutes in 2022.
Returning to full strength after its pandemic-enforced break, The Great Escape has moved to platform some of these artists, with a flurry of performances across the gargantuan Brighton event bringing together some of these bright lights.
Clash will be there, and we’re eager to explore cross-currents in future-facing soul music. Amid a line up bursting with talent, make sure to check out these five names.
Across Alewya’s slim but emphatic catalogue you can locate an astonishing thirst for the unknown. Splicing together UK club elements – the clinical, ice-cold touch of techno, together with aspects of UKG’s legacy – she borrows from R&B templates, while also dipping into elements of West African culture. Last year’s ‘Panther In Mode’ with a riveting project, one packed with ideas and bursting with potential, coming into focus with startling intensity.
Singles such as ‘Play’ and ‘Spirit X’ scorched her path, with Alewya telling Clash at the time: “As artists, we deserve to have our freedom to explore, and do whatever the fuck we want.”
Recently playing a remarkable immersive event at London’s ICA, Alewya represents one of The Great Escape’s truly unmissable artists.
Catch Alewya at TGE Beach Stage on Friday (May 13th) at 1.20pm.
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One of the first signings to emerging UK powerhouse imprint 0207 Def Jam, Debbie struck gold with her debut single. ‘Is This Real Love?’ emerged a few months back, and the sheer confidence and control of her vocal stood out from the pack – working with remarkable assurance, Debbie seemed able to balance an affection for her influences with a desire to speak her truth.
Since then, her velocity has been incredible. One of the most-tipped artists from the UK’s newgen soul communities, the Stormzy co-signed newcomer played an ecstatic London show that revealed a run of emphatic songwriting.
Someone who is only going to blossom, it’s time to check out this 22 year old riser in an intimate venue – while you still can.
Catch Debbie at Patterns (Downstairs) on Friday (May 13th) at 7pm; Pagannini Ballroom (The Old Ship) on Saturday (May 14th) at 7.45pm.
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Manchester’s Pip Millett is doing things her own way. An artist marked by a staunch sense of independence, this sense of control impacts on every aspect of her art. Nothing is released until it meets her exacting standards, meaning that singles such as her debut ‘Make Me Cry’ are nothing short of exceptional.
Melting together R&B, soul, and jazz aspects, she’s unafraid of tackling broader social issues in her art, such as the powerful ‘Running’ which utilises a Ghetts feature to discuss the feelings of growing up Black in a white world.
With a viral COLORS performance giving extra wind to her wings, Pip Millett travels down to Brighton with the quiet confidence of someone itching to make her mark.
Catch Pip Millett at the Amazon New Music Stage on Friday (May 13th) at 8.15pm.
There’s just something about Tora-i. The London songwriter envelopes her songwriting in a rich sense of atmosphere, something that seems to brood with a quiet but emphatic sense of intensity. Singles such as the uplifting ‘PBFF’ and the opaque future soul of ‘Serial’ have broadcast a fresh vision, one rooted in a unique sense of self.
Continually working on fresh ideas, this soulful innovator is up-ending definitions while also sketching out forward paths. An artist who thrives on fresh challenges, Tora-i seems primed to make 2022 her own.
Catch Tora-i at TGE Beach Stage on Friday (May 13th) at 3.20pm.
Tamera grew up in the suburbs, a Gravesend kid who could practically see London from her bedroom window. The metropolis felt perpetually out of reach, however, and this forced her to dig inwards, to embody the light she wanted to see around her. Spending her adolescence soaking up vintage cuts from Whitney Houston and Missy Elliot, Tamera’s own music is marked by a desire to hit those heights.
Singles such as ‘Good Love’ – which features the remarkable Tay Iwar – stake out her ambition, with Tamera speaking her truth in an unvarnished manner. Raw and up-front, she’s impossible to ignore.
Catch Tamera at Komedia (basement) on Friday (May 13th) at 9.15pm.
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The Great Escape takes place between May 12th - 14th.
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