We aim to emulate the lessons we learned from Abram, an artist who was as much dedicated to his career as a professional musician as he was to passing on his knowledge to the next generation, inspiring his students to have the confidence to thrive and succeed. Since 2012 we have laid the foundations for a sharing economy where we build an ever-increasing cohort of artists and educators who remain engaged with AWF throughout their careers, paying it forward by acting as role models, mentors and educators.
Our Programme supports talented up and coming musicians in the early to mid-stages of their careers through:
• Monthly support in the form of coaching, mentoring and strategy sessions for 2 years
• Access to industry professionals to realise strategic goals
• Live performances to showcase work
• Opportunities to develop educational practice through involvement in our Music
2018 - 2019 we:
• Produced 12 showcases at h Club, White City House and Church of Sound for over 50 jazz musicians.
• 4 musicians working in jazz received over 100 hours of coaching, strategy sessions and introductory networking meetings
Between 2012 - 2019 we:
• Worked with over 90 performing artists
• Provided strategic support to over 20 performing artists
• Delivered +50 gigs
• Reached +9,000 audience members
• Reached +1,000,000 via press and radio per year in 2013, 2016 and 2017
• 1 Mercury Prize Nomination
• 1 Ivor Novello Award
• 1 Guardian Album of the Year
• 2 Worldwide FM Awards
• 4 Jazz FM Awards
• 3 Steve Reid Innovation Awards
OUR CAREER DEVELOPMENT ARTISTS 2018-2020
Tyrone Isaac-Stuart is a dancer and alto-saxophonist. He graduated from Middlesex University and The University of New Orleans (study abroad) with a BA in Jazz going on to co-found the jazz inspired band, Parshmaune. At the same time, he began his professional dance journey as a member of hip-hop dance company, Boy Blue Entertainment (Associate Artists of the Barbican). Over the last three years, Tyrone has toured and worked with many great artists including: Soweto Kinch, Bricolage Dance, TimeWon’tWait, and Sean Graham. More recently, he has developed his knowledge of sound engineering and audio production and is now seeking to create his own body of work with plans to release a concept album next year. He has created three theatrical pieces: ‘Umbrella Man’ which was performed at The Place in 2017 as part of its annual dance festival ‘Resolution’; ‘Bread of Heaven’; and ‘An Earnest Life’. His mission is to produce enlightening work through exploring the intersections of music and dance.
Tyrone was taught and mentored by Abram Wilson himself and has a passion to give back in the same way. He joined the Abram Wilson Foundation’s Education Committee in 2014 helping to develop our Arts Education Programme, and has been working as one of our Workshop Leaders since 2015. This opportunity will help him take his professional music and dance performance career to the next level, with identified areas of development including: increased ownership over musical creation and collaboration and the authority to select specific sounds/instruments/artists for collaborations; creating original compositions for his existent theatrical pieces that he could also release as music projects, developing more flexibility and cohesiveness in his creative projects; and developing a more holistic approach to his many creative talents.
Tyrone performing on alto-sax at The Jazz Market 2014: https://youtu.be/lE7HrYnaTnY
Tyrone performing as a dancer as part of the Brownswood documentary We Out Here: A LDN Story: https://youtu.be/NwCCfWiYk2s?t=2m47s
Sheila Maurice-Grey is a London-based trumpeter and visual artist who trained at Goldsmiths and Trinity Laban respectively. She is bandleader for KOKOROKO, an exciting award-winning young Afrobeat seven-piece, a core member of upcoming Nérija, who were nominated for Jazz FM Breakthrough Act of the Year in 2016, and has performed with Kano’s live band on the Jool’s Holland Show and The Mercury Prize. Most recently she has featured on Little Simz’s newly released album, ‘Stillness In Wonderland’. She is a workshop leader for Kinetika Bloco and the Abram Wilson Foundation’s Arts Education Programme. Sheila is a runner-up recipient of the 2018 Help Musicians Peter Whittingham Jazz Award.
“I want to be involved in (AWF’s Arts Education Programme) because I had similar experiences when I was younger, with Kinetika Bloco, Tomorrow’s Warriors and Abram Wilson helping to nurture my talent and creativity. I love giving back and the idea that I can inspire the next generation to become music creators, as I was inspired growing up.”
Sheila joined the Abram Wilson Foundation (AWF) as a Workshop Leader in 2016. Even though Sheila had experience delivering workshops for other organisations, she scored herself in a self-assessment as having gained more confidence in her teaching after delivering workshops for our Arts Education Programme particularly in terms of adapting her ideas to fit the group and in teaching less experienced students.
AWF went on to provide Sheila with her first professional opportunity in 2017 when we invited her band, KOKOROKO to perform as part of our fifth anniversary event at Bush Hall alongside multi-award winning, Nitin Sawhney (now our patron). In addition to this, we asked her to design the main image for the flyer and poster that would advertise it. Six months later, KOKOROKO supported Ezra Collective at the London Jazz Festival to a packed audience at Islington Assembly Rooms. This gig went on to win a 2018 Jazz FM Award for Best Live Experience. In 2018, KOKOROKO signed with Brownswood and will be releasing their first EP in March 2019 and were recently awarded a 2019 Worldwide FM Award for Track of the Year.
We are excited to be able to offer Sheila intensive two year strategic support through our Career Development programme to support her in achieving her goals of: taking on a new project to develop her own label; establishing her new quintet project, Ms Maurice; bringing her art and music together; developing funding applications for this; recording and making available an EP and album with KOKOROKO and with Nérija, respectively; award nominations; touring internationally; focusing on establishing herself and taking centre stage in projects created and devised by her i.e. Ms Maurice; and developing KOKOROKO’s identity as a band, especially visually.
Links to Sheila performing: http://sheila-maurice-grey.co.uk/?page_id=384
@smauricegrey I sheila-maurice-grey.co.uk
Cassie Kinoshi is a London-based composer, arranger and alto saxophonist known for her work with jazz septet Nérija, Afrobeat band KOKOROKO and her own large ensemble SEED. Cassie has also written for short film (Anne Verheij, ICA Best Experimental Short Film Award 2017 Nominee and London Short Film Festival 2018) and professional classical ensembles such as the Benyounes Quartet and members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Her most recent ventures include a Sound and Music funded series of events with her ensemble SEED (Driftglass) and working as the sole composer for The Old Vic Theatre's professional development programme 2016-17. Notable artists Cassie has worked alongside include Dele Sosimi, Zoe Rahman, Nathaniel Facey, Yazz Ahmed and Laura Jurd. In 2012, Cassie was shortlisted for the BBC Young Composer of the Year award, nominated for Jazz FM Breakthrough Act of the Year 2016, as part of the ensemble Nérija and awarded the Jazz Newcomer Parliamentary Jazz Award 2017. In 2018 Cassie was announced as one of the awardees of the London Symphony Orchestra Panufnik Scheme.
Cassie released her debut album with SEED Ensemble at Kings Place in Feburary 2019, produced by Jason Yarde on label jazz re:freshed. She is currently Mercury Musical Developments’ and Musical Theatre Network’s most recent Cameron Mackintosh Resident Composer Scheme recipient at Dundee Rep Theatre and is the composer for the National Theatre’s production of Top Girls which will open in March 2019.
Cassie has been an AWF Workshop Leader since 2017. She will develop her professional practice through this opportunity with a focus on: developing as a jazz musician and composer through improving her own brand, gaining more commissions, forging industry connections, writing an opera based on unheard stories inspired by her own cultural heritage, and many other milestones; as a bandleader for SEED, securing a manager for the band, focusing on the aesthetic vision of the band, securing a residency for the band, and releasing a second album. Her aim is to effectively balance her time between KOKOROKO, SEED, Nérija and composition.
@cassiekinoshi || www.cassiekinoshi.com
Dream Keeper by Cassie Kinoshi: https://soundcloud.com/cassie-kinoshi/the-dream-keeper
Spencer Martin is a musician and also the co-founder of Church of Sound, a monthly music night focused around contemporary jazz in a repurposed church in Hackney.
The award-winning Church of Sound, was founded by Spencer Martin and Lexus Blondin and is an AWF Associate Artist. Church of Sound’s gigs have been running since May 2016 receiving critical acclaim, including the 2017 Jazz FM Awards for Best Live Experience of the Year, as well as sell-out shows, responding to the needs of its community to make excellent music accessible.
Spencer’s musical education began in church as a young boy, when he sang and learned the organ. He went on to play saxophone, guitar and bass, and while attending SOAS, experimented with a range of new instruments and explored saxophone styles beyond the European and American traditions. He continues all of these instruments with a regular Sunday morning slot as resident organist of Haggerston’s All Saints; playing in an experimental five-piece live band; and composing/producing his own music on a growing collection of second-hand electronics; as well as curating and organising Church of Sound concerts.
“Church of Sound is a live music project like no other. The team hosts some of the finest contemporary jazz musicians to create unforgettable, unique musical experiences...It also acts as a bridge between artists and their community, which feels important at a time of rapid, often faceless gentrification…The energy in the room, underpinned by a shared appreciation of live music that is refreshingly devoid of pretence, gives each gig an intimate and spontaneous feel, which in turn creates a powerful sense of community and solidarity.” – Louis Collenette, The Independent.
As part of our Career Development Programme, Spencer plans to focus more on writing, composing, and performing music, as well as building the brand and reputation of Church of Sound to a national and international level through touring to partnering churches and expanding into more established venues such as Southbank Centre. This will also include growing Church of Sound as a musical community hub where musicians can grow, communicate, create, and share ideas.
Separate to this programme, Church of Sound have also collaborated with the Abram Wilson Foundation as part of our Arts Education Programme. In Autumn 2018 we received Arts Council and PRS Foundation funding to support Sheila Maurice-Grey’s KOKOROKO to work with 14 aspiring young musicians from challenging backgrounds attending Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney. The band members delivered a series of after-school music workshops, culminating in a free collaborative performance in the wider community at Church of Sound with KOKOROKO. KOKOROKO later performed newly commissioned work at Church of Sound in January 2019, attracting a sold out audience to their vibrant jazz and afrobeat sounds.
"Working with Jennie and Abram Wilson Foundation is a dream come true for Church of Sound. The project will strengthen our ties with the local community and I hope provide an important creative opportunity for local young people. I can't wait to see what they and KOKOROKO produce!" – Spencer Martin
@church_of_sound || http://www.churchofsound.co.uk
Kansas Smitty’s Case Study
‘We love working with the Abram Wilson Foundation because Jennie is really good at identifying passion in people early on and then turning that into something tangible. She’s been brilliant at helping us to stay on top of what we’re doing and keep growing.’ – KYG mentee and band leader, Giacomo Smith
The Abram Wilson Foundation started mentoring Kansas Smitty’s founder and band leader, Giacomo Smith, in 2014. We helped him secure two-year support from the City Music Foundation, which in turn resulted in the release of the superb Kansas Smitty’s House Band’s debut album in October 2015.
Today Kansas Smitty’s consists of the Kansas Smitty’s House Band and an ever-increasing community of young jazz musicians. They have recorded and released a second album, sold out Shoreditch Town Hall at the London Jazz Festival 2016, received praise from the critics, including the Evening Standard, the Sunday Times, and the Telegraph, and even opened their own jazz bar in East London!
In 2016, Kansas Smitty’s ‘graduated’ to become Artistic Partners of the Abram Wilson Foundation and their founder, Giacomo, is now one of our Arts Education workshop leaders.
Reuben James Case Study
‘Abram is one of the reasons I’m doing what I’m doing today and I hope that by being a patron of the Abram Wilson Foundation I can help carry on his legacy and inspire others to live out their greatness.’ – Reuben James, critically-acclaimed jazz musician and Abram Wilson Foundation patron.
Reuben was just 17 when he was asked to join Abram’s band, offering him a chance to raise his profile as a jazz musician and develop his skills as a pianist. A year later, Reuben was identified by The Times as ‘fast becoming Britain’s best young jazz pianist’ and later went on to win the British Jazz ‘Rising Star’ award.
In 2013 Reuben was given an opportunity to play with an up and coming singer called Sam Smith. He is now back from a world tour and numerous award ceremonies performing on Smith’s multi-award winning album, In The Lonely Hour.
He continues to play jazz, recording with Soweto Kinch and touring with Jason Marsalis, whilst also working on his own soulful electro-funk project, KINGDM, and acting as music director for new pop star, Calum Scott.
Abram valued the power of teaching. He stood out as an educator because he could teach anybody regardless of age, ability or experience. He taught creatively and passionately often inviting much younger musicians like Reuben to join his bands, providing a unique opportunity for them to learn from him through rehearsals and gigs.
Abram gave Reuben a chance to discover his greatness and we want the Abram Wilson Foundation to do the same for the other Reubens that are out there.
In 2016 Reuben became the first patron of the Abram Wilson Foundation.