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Top 20 for 2020: East Midlands Emerging Artists

Updated: May 3, 2020

Acoustickle introduces Nottingham to many local artists...

The East Midlands is rippling with RnB, jazz, soul and hip hop talent. Who released music in 2019, and who’s going far this decade? In NO particular order, here is Acoustickle’s Top 20 for 2020


She's a walking Hip Hopera, with RnB-soul runs melting into classical vocal excellence and relatable lyrics. Morgan is a stand out performance and studio artist who joined us on the first Acoustickle tour, and kicked off our 10th Birthday season with a sublime performance at Peggy's Skylight alongside Jaz Karis. LINK

MAJOR RUSE A trio of diverse jazz and hip hop heads from Leicester and Nottingham, their energetic performances switch between progressive and traditional jazz elements, throwing textures together in their own memorable style. Major Ruse performed across the country, at festivals, released single Berlin, and opened many doors for themselves last year. LINK


One of the undebatable GOATs of Nottingham, Jah has continued to evolve, releasing music and poetry consistently to his growing fanbase. We have a good feeling about Jah Digga’s career right now, especially after he launched Poets Off The Endz and then a BBC documentary about his life under the same name came out in 2019. LINK

SAFFRON GRAY Gospel girl Saffron bubbled up on the local scene last year, with live appearances at Replenish Open Mic gaining her well deserved attention before she dropped debut project Levitation, produced by AndréTheProducer. Saffron is cultivating her own lane as a Nottingham born artist, linking with some of the city’s finest RnB based talent. LINK ANDRÉTHEPRODUCER An underground good boy with bad boy style, demand for André is steadily growing, as his own take on hip hop, RnB, trap, grime, Afrobeat and urban flavours, doubled with his skills as a drummer gives him a producer edge that could take him to the top this year. He’s also vocals many of his own tracks. LINK MAE MONYPENNY Hailing from Derby, studying in Nottingham, and winning the national Youth Music Award, Mae had a super exciting end to 2019 as part of the Circle of Light project which catapulted her into the spotlight. We predict Mae Monypenny, her loop station and microphone will be international by the end of 2020. LINK CHAWE

A Swaziland export living in Nottingham, Chawe releases Afrobeat hip hop and urban music but he’s also an incredible keys player, dripping RnB, soul and gospel. Already in demand as a session player for those in the know, it’s only a matter of time til he’s a world music artist in the truest sense. LINK

XHOSA COLE BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018, Birmingham’s Xhosa Cole works a lot with our friends in Leicester, hence making it on our East Midlands list. He’s a saxophonist, flautist, composer, and bit of a rebel, rocking his roots proudly as he makes a mark in the jazz world. LINK

SANE Leicester based poet Sane is bursting with metaphors and similes, spinning the ordinary into the abstract, and putting sense into the perplexing human condition. He’s flows like a rapper and is certainly a wordsmith with many talents, but we think his spoken word is what he’s going to be known for. Watch this space. LINK MELONYX

The official musical link up of Georgia Copeland and Nadia LaToya. Their harmonious collaboration is the sexy, soulful, hip hop and RnB duet Nottingham has longed for. The pair joined Acoustickle on our first tour, went to We Out Here Festival and performed various shows across the country, ending 2019 with Terri Walker in their corner. LINK NICOLETTE SHAÉ

Derby’s young mover and shaker, Nicolette has launched her own open mic sessions to showcase Black music sounds, but is herself a formidable new talent with great penmanship, stage presence and of course, awesome vocals. She’s also performing Acoustickle’s first 2020 event, and we’re sure you’ll love her RnB based talent. Shout out to Replenish Open Mic for the introduction! LINK KAMAR

Sneinton ambassador, rapper and singer, Kamar has a charismatic stage presence, a touch of cheekiness and lots of charm. He talks about the ups and downs as a young inner-city man, run-ins with the police, chasing women and being a father. A consistent artist with a huge back catalogue, it’s time you knew about K-Dizz. LINK TILLY GREENTREE

Beautiful vocals and acoustic songwriting are a breath of fresh air, hawking back to the rise of soulful guitar playing women like Eva Cassidy, India Arie and Lianne Lahavas. She’s got a lovely energy that we spotlit on our first Acoustickle of 2020. LINK KARIZMA He’s not a brand new name to those who know, but something switched for Karizma in 2019 and he’s a whole new artist now. He went to Italy with Berklee College of Music to learn piano, debuted brand new material on Acoustickle’s Hockley Hustle stage, and then again at OnPoint’s Children of Zeus event in Metronome to wide acclaim. Karizma went from grime rapper to soulful singer and keys player, so stay tuned for his next moves. LINK

JACK WOLFF Multi-instrumental producer, beat maker and keys player with jazz, hip hop, funk, soul, lo-fi, and much more to say for himself. Jack’s already toured with emerging LA artists and has a beefy music catalogue he often distributes for free! He is currently producing Karizma on a jazz-grime crossover project which impressed swathes of music heads when it debuted last year. LINK

COFFEE CLUB BOYZ An extension of the Mimm empire, the CCB (led by TONYSPARK) are your sprinkle of soul, straight Black with sugar. They’ve got that little something you need in the morning, and have a groovy laid back RnB, jazz, hip hop feel with added UK urban. LINK FRANKY BONES An exceptional pianist, songwriter and session artist, Franky is working with Nottingham top girl Harleighblu, but it really blossoming with his own projects that show-off songwriting skills that could one-day reach the Grammys. His gift for music catches attention from the first few notes he plays. LINK LIA WHITE

An acoustic guitar in hand, Lia is too young to write songs so good. She has an ethereal quality to her voice, and a natural pop-soul-RnB sound which is no doubt the result of being a 2000’s child. Lia was on The Voice in 2017, but her best is yet to come as she blazes her own trail in the music industry. LINK SHVVN A spicy RnB diva in the making, her music is electronic in nature, with added Asian influence and a vocal straight from the 90’s despite her youth. SHVVN released multiple bass heavy singles produced by Superbeats, and has caught the attention of BBC Asian Network and BBC Introducing, so we expect even more from her this year. LINK HONORARY MENTION:

JAYAHADADREAM Studying at Nottingham University, but hailing from Cambridge, Jaya is the extraordinary talent that needs to be known. She’s a producer, rapper, singer, poet and much more, with powerful prose that cuts through political landscapes and delves into her mental health, internal struggle and a love of making music. LINK

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