I'm still pinching myself to check that I'm not dreaming. I spent Saturday in London with some of the most amazing people in the music industry at the inaugural Girls I Rate #GETHEARD A&R Weekender. Lily Allen, Beyoncé's songwriter Carla, radio presenters and senior A&R executives.
I've only just had time to post about it, having dashed back to do a charity gig and then having had classes and coursework for the past three days.
The joint venture between GIR, PRS for Music and Island Records gave me and 99 other women aged 16-30 the opportunity to showcase our original music to industry professionals and was aimed at empowering more females in the male-dominated world of music.
GIR was founded by Carla Marie Williams, Grammy-nominated songwriter who has written chart hits for Beyoncé, Girls Aloud, Craig David, Naughty Boy, Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue & Alesha Dixon.
“My mission is to engage with as many young females as possible, to break down stereotypes and assumptions in the creative industry and help give young women opportunities by pushing for more equality and diversity within the creative industry!
"I want to empower young females to believe anything is possible. This is why events such as #GETHEARD are so imperative”.
Just meeting Carla would have made my trip to London worthwhile, but she'd invited a few friends along to mentor and network with us. So I met all these guys as well. Their work covers pop, urban pop, alternative, grime, rap and hip hop... so right up my street.
Alec Boateng (aka Twin B) – A&R Director, Atlantic Records UK; Radio 1Xtra Breakfast Show host.
Lily Allen - multi-million selling singer-songwriter, actress, tv presenter and Mercury nominee.
Adele White – A&R Manager, Relentless Records (Sony Music), CEO of Ego Music Management.
Deshane Cornwall (aka Frisco) - rapper in Skepta's BBK grime collective; CEO of The Den club.
Tanya Lacey - recording artist, songwriter & composer with Sony; competitor on ‘The Voice’ 2017.
Laura Brosnan (aka. Hyperfrank) – journalist on RWD Magazine, i-D, MTV, Time Out, Artrocker, etc.
Jade Richardson – A&R Manager, Virgin EMI. In 2004, established the now famous ILUVLIVE event.
Manny Norté – DJ, Capital XTRA presenter & producer, 2004 winner of MOBO for Best UK Club DJ.
Annie Christensen – Senior A&R Manager, Island Records, manages Mumford & Sons and others.
Nadia Khan – Artist Manager, CTRL Management, represents Lethal Bizzle and others.
The list of artists these ten managers have worked with is truly mind-blowing. It includes Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Dizzee Rascal, Drake, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé, Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, Jess Glynne, Jessie J, Kanye West, Lethal Bizzle, Loick Essien, Maxsta, Mick Jagger, Model Aeroplanes, Mumford & Sons, Rihanna, Skepta, Tinchy Stryder, Tinie Tempah, Wiley and will.i.am.
There was something quite special about sitting in a room with other young women musicians. Some were Londoners from the capital's urban grime and hip-hop community - some like myself had travelled from further afield. I met a very talented musician by the name of Makala Cheung from Bristol. Within five minutes we'd exchanged emails and we're planning to organise a gig exchange!
It was a great networking event and the mixer afterwards was a nice chilled end to the day, with live performances from London artists KOJO Funds and Ms.Banks. By the end of the event it came home to me that I hadn't slept for 36 hours due to travelling on overnight coaches.
But dreams are worth losing sleep over.