12 artists join our music industry career development programme

We’re super proud to be supporting 12 more exceptionally talented emerging artists through our latest Career Development Programme.  At a tougher than ever time for musicians, the vital 2-year programme aims to help create a more level playing field, as building and sustaining a career in music can be impenetrable for many artists.  The 2020-22 cohort is our largest yet, with half of the mentees from diverse backgrounds and three quarters women. 

They are:

  • Singer, songwriter and Steam Down tour manager Naima Adams
  • Bassist, composer and Royal College of Music scholarship graduate Joe Downard
  • Singer-songwriter and Women In Jazz co-founder Nina Fine
  • Composer, pianist and educator David Austin Grey
  • Bass player and Trinity Laban student Amy Gadiaga
  • Songwriter and producer Sans Soucis  
  • Saxophonist and composer Emma Johnson
  • Jazz guitarist and composer Daniel Kemshell 
  • Artist manager and co-founder of Women In Jazz Lou Paley 
  • Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Plumm
  • Double bassist, producer and lead trainer for Musicians without Borders, Emma Smith 
  • Artistic director of Black Voices all-female acapella gospel group Shereece Storrod  

The programme, for artists with a jazz background, is made up of monthly coaching, mentoring and strategy sessions; access to industry professionals to help artists realise their strategic goals; and opportunities to develop skills as music educators. Plus – hopefully soon! – live performances to showcase their work. 

The programme is kindly supported by our partners Spitfire Audio and led by our Chair of Trustees Fred Bolza and our founder and CEO Jennie Cashman Wilson,* providing connections and advice to help open doors to the music industry and enable artists to realise their creative and career potential. 

Jennie says: 

“We’re so excited to be working with a vibrant community of young musicians who are bursting with talent and dedication.  Every artist is different and faces unique challenges, but some skills are useful to all: managing your own career; increasing your confidence; accessing higher-profile opportunities to share your work and build your audience base; and increasing your professional network and achieving industry recognition for your work. 

In return, the artists positively impact the future of aspiring musicians, through paid opportunities as educators on our Future Sound music education programme.  This emulates the lessons we learned from Abram, who was as much dedicated to his career as a professional musician as he was to passing on his knowledge to the next generation.”

Naima Adams says:

“I’m really excited to be a part of the programme because I believe it’ll finally provide me with the structure I need to maximise my potential as an artist. I hope to develop a clear strategy on how to market and brand myself, as well as work out a release timeline.

Daniel Kemshall adds:

“It’s an honour to be selected as one of the artists for the programme. Though I did not know Abram, I can see that he has left behind a strong legacy of inspiring young musicians to move forward with their future aspirations. The initial coaching sessions with Jennie and Fred have helped me visualise what my ideal career as a musician would be – something I initially found challenging to specify beyond a desire to play good music.”

The 2020-22 cohort join a strong alumni of previous artists that the Foundation has supported including: Reuben James, Kansas Smittys, Sheila Maurice-Grey (Kokoroko, Nerija), Cassie Kinoshi (SEED Ensemble, Nerija, Kokoroko), Spencer Martin (Church of Sound and Lunch Money) and Tyrone Isaac-Stuart.

To help us enable artists to build sustainable and lasting careers, please DONATE to the Abram Wilson Foundation.  

If you’re an artist please email [email protected] to be added to our mailing list for all the latest news and opportunities.

* Fred was Sony Music Vice President of Strategy for 10 years and is now a consultant at Ivors Academy and the founder of New Soil, which has recently signed Theon Cross, Ill Considered and Church of Sound.  Jennie has extensive experience in live events, performance and arts education production at nationally and internationally recognised venues.  She was also her late husband Abram’s manager and booking agent and is a qualified coach with Relational Dynamics 1st.