Nitin Sawhney CBE is a world-class producer, songwriter, DJ, multi-instrumentalist, orchestral composer and cultural pioneer across the worlds of music, film, video games, dance and theatre.
He has been our patron since 2018, sharing his passion for inspiring young people to find their voice and championing talented artists on the UK music scene. Nitin is active and vocal about promoting equality of education and experience. He is also Chair of Trustees for PRS Foundation.
Nitin has over 20 studio albums to his name plus has scored more than 60 films and numerous TV series – including the BBC’s epic Human Planet series. As a touring musician he has performed extensively as an artist at some of the world’s most prestigious venues from the Royal Albert Hall to Sydney Opera House. He has collaborated and worked with Paul McCartney, Sting, Herbie Hancock, Jools Holland, Ellie Goulding, Anoushka Shankar and Nelson Mandela. He was awarded the Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017 and in 2019 he received a CBE for his services to music, accepting it in memory of his dad and as an acknowledgement of his parents’ struggle as immigrants.
Jools Holland OBE, DL, is an English pianist, bandleader, singer, composer and broadcaster. An original member of Squeeze, in 1987 he formed with Gilson Lavis The Jools Holland Big Band. This has gradually grown into his 18 piece Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, with which he regularly records and tours. He has released 24 studio albums to date and has collaborated with some of the biggest international stars. He is the host of the BBC TWO music TV show Later… with Jools Holland, which is celebrating its 30th year.
Jools Holland said:
“I’m delighted to become a patron of the Abram Wilson charity. I’m proud to lend my support to its vital work in providing visibility, access and opportunity for young musicians and emerging artists in the UK music industry.”
Reuben first met Abram when he was just 17, at a workshop Abram was leading at Birmingham Conservatoire. Abram was impressed by Reuben’s skill and soon afterwards asked him to join his quartet for a new record and UK tour. Already a regular on the Birmingham jazz scene, playing at Jam House and with Ruby Turner, joining Abram’s band gave Reuben a chance to hone his skills as a live musician.
Reuben says: “We went on tour around the jazz circuit, and it was amazing for me to learn and gain experience from one of the best around and someone who had always been a great inspiration to me. During that time Abram became more than just a bandleader, he was my best friend, my big brother, and my mentor. He taught me about swing, blues, the history of the music, fearlessness, respect, passion, hard work, dedication, patience, how to be an inspiring teacher, the importance of passing on your skills to others. Abram is one of the reasons I’m doing what I’m doing today, and it was a privilege to have been a part of the message that he represented through his work.”
Not long after Abram passed away, Reuben was given an opportunity to join a new band, for an up-and-coming singer called Sam Smith. Fast forward a few years and Reuben became best known for his ongoing collaborations with Smith, co-writing songs for his multi-million selling album ‘The Thrill of It All’, touring the world and winning numerous awards. He has also written for and performed with stars including Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancok, Elton John and John Legend. He signed with Warner/Chappell in 2018 and has grown his solo career. His debut EP Adore and new EP Slow Down landed to critical acclaim in 2019 and 2020 and he released ‘Tunnel Vision’ featuring Frida Touray, Daley with Tom Misch in 2021.
Jas Kayser has been picked up as an artist by Paiste Cymbals and Yamaha Drums and is winning an international following thanks to her eclectic adventures in sound which have taken her to Panama, Boston and the heart of the exciting London scene, where she is now based.
When Lenny Kravitz invites you to perform a drum duet you say yes. Since her 2018 cameo in the rock legend’s ‘Low’ video, drummer, composer and band leader Jas Kayser hasn’t looked back. Jas has won Jazz FM Breakthrough Act 2021 and Parliamentary Jazz New Comer 2021 as well as being nominated for the MOBO Awards Best Jazz Artist 2022.
An alumni of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, Jas has found herself playing alongside her mentors Terri Lyne Carrington, Danilo Perez and Ralph Peterson plus London artists such as Shabaka Hutchings, Alfa Mist and Nubya Garcia. She is steadily carving out her own niche, with a little help from an ever-expanding collective of musical ‘chums’.
Jas says: “I love working with the Abram Wilson charity because I resonate so much with their ethos and of course it always feels amazing to be supported as an upcoming artist and educator. They invited my band and I to lead their Future Sound programme for a term at the Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney, and it was such a special couple of months. It was so rewarding to bond with the students and see them develop as musicians. It was a great opportunity for us to practice leading workshops and to share our personal sounds and insight into working in the music industry.”
South London born Ashley Henry is one of a new generation of musicians, raised with a wide range and depth of influences. His album debut “Beautiful Vinyl Hunter” (Sony Music) saw him nominated for BBC 6 Music’s Album of the Year, only the second jazz album ever to do so. The album won Jazz Japan’s Album of the Year and Henry is France’s Jazz Magazine New Jazz Artist of the Year.
Henry Graduated from Royal Academy of Music in 2016, going on to perform with Jason Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Jean Toussaint, with the latter featuring on Henry’s record, Easter EP. At the age of 25, Henry was commissioned as resident Musical Director for both Jazz Café and Ronnie Scott’s in London, and won the Jazz FM Live Experience Award. In 2018/19, he toured with Christine and the Queens, and supported Loyle Carner’s 2019 featured tour. His live performances have gained outstanding reviews, including a sold-out standing-room only show as part of the 2019 EFG London Jazz Festival, and the much talked about BBC Music introducing live show in New York as part of Winter Jazzfest 2020, curated by Gilles Peterson.
Ashley says: “I’m excited to be joining the Abram Wilson family and embarking on this new journey – sharing knowledge and mentorship has been such a huge part of my growth as a musician and artist, so I’m very much looking forward to working with the next generation.”
Sans Soucis (she/they) makes music that invigorates the soul. Born out of a desire to reconnect with the uninhibited joyfulness and authenticity of childhood that all of us lose as we grow older, their music is a radical act of reclamation. Free from the constraints of genre and with a wide gamut of sonic touchstones – from the effervescent electronics of Little Dragon, Solange Knowles’s alt-R&B, the emotional edge of Joni Mitchell and the robust pop melodies of Rihanna – Sans Soucis’s world is one overflowing with vibrant musical textures pertinent lyrics and refreshing dose of hopefulness.
Sans Soucis says: “I am so excited to be able to give back to the Abram Wilson charity, which is my first family in London. I hope to support the vibrant community of aspiring musicians who might need the same help I needed when I moved to London seven years ago. We don’t always know where we are going, until we stop and take time to observe, soundboard, and ask for the help we need in order to get closer to our authentic voice. I’d love to give back all the support the charity gave me throughout these past years and be able to help other aspiring musicians with some of the experience I was lucky enough to have in this industry.”
Collette is our Chair of Trustees. She runs award-winning brand and strategy consultancy, Brand By Me, helping organisations build brands that tackle inequity and drive social justice. She has worked with, on and for a breadth of amazing brands for over 20 years – from household names to amazing charities.
Fuelled by her lived experience as a Black woman, and passion for social justice, Collette is a changemaker who sees it as her responsibility to be a role model, champion others and speak out against the stereotypes.
She says: “I’m delighted to be taking on the role of Chair of Trustees for this brilliant charity, making sure that we can continue to inspire, connect and open doors to the music industry for young people from minoritised communities in the UK. To bring forth, champion and uncover talent in young people is so important, especially when music is underfunded, under-appreciated and inaccessible to all but a privileged few. I love how the organisation is part of a growing movement dismantling structural inequity within the music industry in a practical, creative and exuberant way. We get to see young people develop their spark of creativity, build their careers as well as a front row seat to the most exciting new music from emerging talent. What’s not to love? I feel honoured!”
Sharan is an educator, facilitator and change-maker, passionate about social justice, education and empowering young people and marginalised groups. She has over 15 years experience in designing, delivering and scaling education programmes globally.
Sharan spent 12 years growing MyBnk where she led the education team, spearheading their work with marginalised youth and becoming an experienced project manager and learning experience designer.
Now self-employed, she’s stepped into the field of social justice and anti-racism, working independently plus with organisations like The Good Lad Initiative, Rethink Mental Illness and Diversity Role Models as an education, anti-oppression and wellbeing facilitator and consultant. She also volunteers with #POCImpact and co-founded The People Protest.
Sharan is a RSA and Clore Leadership Fellow and her education programmes have won social impact awards with the Guardian Public Service and Centre for Social Justice Poverty Prevention.
She says: “It’s a real honour to be an Abram Wilson trustee, as their work to empower young people in the arts is transformational. Whether composing a music piece from scratch for the first time, performing on new or bigger platforms, or getting an introduction that leads to a record deal, I know our youth and mentees get something extra special that they can’t access anywhere else. Being part of that journey is hugely rewarding – plus I get to work with an awesome team and be the first to hear the best tunes and upcoming artists!”
Fred is a strategist working at the intersection of culture, technology and people. His core skill is acting as the connective tissue between adjacent worlds to define and answer key strategic questions.
He has over 20 years experience in strategy, having worked, initially as a management consultant, then as strategy director at PRS for Music, and finally as VP Strategy at Sony Music UK where he played a key role in developing and delivering insight and analytics approaches into the business.
Since he left Sony in 2018, he has launched his own music company New Soil focusing on emerging UK jazz talent. He continues to provide advisory services across music, digital and technology to a range of clients. He is also on the advisory board of One Question and a scale partner at Multiple.
Fred says: “Being a trustee of Abram Wilson is one of the most important things in my life. Not only does it provide valuable opportunities to young people through its programmes, it also creates a chance to help those in their careers develop and grow. On a personal level, working with the charity has allowed me not just to learn from others but gain a greater sense of purpose and the inspiration to start my own business.”
James has worked across the television and film industry for the past 15 years, making a variety of programmes for UK and international broadcasters. Much of his editorial work has focused on youth related issues, with a focus on giving platforms and opportunities through media to teenagers and young adults to engage them in social and political causes. This work led to him being a trustee and subsequent Chair of Trustees for Lives Not Knives, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable and disengaged young people across London. He has a broad range of other charity experience, from making films with Prince Harry for the Royal Foundation, to setting up temporary hot meal food banks to help people through the COVID lockdowns, to running an annual Christmas live music fundraiser.
He says: “I was drawn to the Abram Wilson charity for the incredibly positive and creative role they play in young peoples lives across the UK, and I’m very excited and honoured to join them as a trustee.”
Nana is the founder of Castlegate International and an accomplished Chartered Psychologist, specialising in leadership coaching, design and facilitation of leadership development programmes, team coaching, senior team effectiveness, and talent development. She is passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. She has particular interest in women in leadership, minorities in leadership and evolutionary leadership.
Nana has worked globally as a consultant with a diverse range of industries and across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors with clients such as: Google, PayPal, NHS, Citi, Unilever, Aviva, Vodafone, Nestlé, Kinross Gold, Diageo, and BP. Clients consistently tell her that she brings refreshing clarity and a powerful combination of perceptiveness, insightful challenge, results-focus, supportiveness, energy and fun to her work. Before founding Castlegate International in 2011 she worked with Standard Chartered Bank.
She says: “Knowing the impact Abram had on the talented people around him, I have from the outset been a huge supporter of the important work the charity is doing with young people and the great opportunities it offers through mentorship programmes. I am so proud and honoured to be a trustee, also as it aligns with my personal and professional purpose of helping to realise the potential of people from all walks of life.”
Jennie spent 11 years building Abram Wilson from scratch before stepping down as CEO in August 2023. As well as founding the Abram Wilson charity, Jennie is also a coach, mentor, writer and speaker; passionate about social mobility within music and helping others to find their voice. Jennie was listed in WISE100 recognising inspiring and influential women in social enterprise (2017) and won a WACL Future Leader Award (2018). Jennie’s first children’s book Becoming Brave was published in August 2023. Jennie’s creativity lies in telling stories that inspire people to make positive changes for themselves and others.
Oliver is the former artistic director of East London’s arts centre Rich Mix and ex-CEO of Gulbenkian Arts Centre in Canterbury. Now a freelance consultant working with a portfolio of arts organisations, Oliver worked closely alongside Jennie as Executive Director since January 2023, and from September has taken take on the role of interim CEO of Abram Wilson until the recruitment process for new leadership is finalised.
Trusts & Foundations Manager
I joined the Abram Wilson team in March 2023 to support the organisation’s fundraising activities and help build lasting relationships with supporters. I’ve been working in fundraising for the arts and charity sectors for over ten years, mostly in trusts and foundations. As an independent consultant, I enjoy working with organisations and artists where values and passions align, which is why I’m excited to be part of the Abram Wilson team. Music, young people and supporting artists are my top tier happy places!
My creativity lies in words – it’s a joy to write about the impact and importance of a project, while also linking it to the wider systemic issues artists and organisations are addressing in their work.
I joined the Abram Wilson team near the beginning of 2022, after officially starting up my own business in virtual administration full-time. With the freedom to choose, I now choose only to work with businesses, charities, and entrepreneurs that I believe in, and that align with my values. This is why Abram Wilson has been an excellent charity to work with. I have 6 years’ experience in administration and a lifetime in music.
My creativity lies in communication, events, and organisation.
Learning and Community Producer
I have been producing projects for Abram Wilson since 2022. Prior to this, I was a Drama and Performing Arts teacher. My teaching career took me all over the world including Spain, Vietnam, Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands As well as working for Abram Wilson, I am also a freelance Drama teacher and I manage marketing campaigns for a creative company. I love working within the arts sector and I especially enjoy seeing young people develop confidence and creativity as they embark on new projects.
Outside of work, I enjoy performing, going to the gym, being in nature and spending time with my friends and family (including my two, very clingy, Caymanian cats!)
My creativity lies in communicating with others to allow them to feel supported as they collaboratively develop effective performance pieces.
Communications and Marketing Manager
I joined the team in 2021 having previously followed Abram’s career and then also supporting the charity as a Trailblazer. It is incredible to see how the charity has grown and evolved into what it is today, and I am so passionate about its work and values.
I come from a background of music and events production, and enjoy freelancing in the music industry and creative space.
Aside from music, I am a fan of literature, writing, yoga and art. My creativity lies in knowing how to use language to convey ideas and insight.
Music Education Advisor
I have been working as a consultant with Abram Wilson since 2017. I get to collaborate with talented and inspiring artists to help them develop their skills in an educational setting. It’s a really varied role and I love working with them to develop their ideas.
Outside of Abram Wilson, I work as a composer, advisor and freelancer with a number of other organisations. Recent projects include co-developing a degree programme for Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, writing the music for a number of TV advertising campaigns and also composing a musical for over 1000 primary school children to perform at the Royal Albert Hall. My creativity lies in collaboration – I love working with other people.
Photo credit: Felipe Pagani