Priya Ragu, Dan Croll, Anaiis, Obii and Great Calling show the UK’s Talent at Pop-up Shows across Manhattan

In an effort to expose up-and-coming UK artists to American audiences, GREAT Campaign partnered with SoFar Sounds for the week of March 21, 2022 to put on numerous performances across New York City featuring some of the biggest names on the rise.

In an interesting way to gain access to the show, one had to pick up a ringing telephone within a classic English-looking telephone booth (many of which were spread across Manhattan). The phone would relay a message detailing the shows for the week and their locations.

Priya Ragu Dan Croll
Priya Ragu at Great Jones Distillery Co.

The purpose for this campaign was due to the UK still considered underrated, in terms of being a cultural musical hotspot. Massive current artists, like Harry Styles, Dua Lipa, and Ed Sheeran all hail from the UK, showing its constant relevance in the global music scene. There are many artists in the UK that are starting to rise and are nearly about to break into the mainstream American industry.

become incredibly popular in the past year, with the prestigious BBC Sound of Music giving her a nomination in 2021 and Vogue India listing her as one of the 6 artists that are going to blow up in 2021. On the other hand, Dan Croll (hailing from Liverpool) graduated from the Paul McCartney-founded Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and has been on the scene since 2011. Both of them put on an intimate show for an adoring crowd, wowing them with Dan Croll’s indie-pop crooning and Priya Ragu’s energetic pop performance.

Priya Ragu Dan Croll
Dan Croll at Great Jones Distilling Co.

Many of performances occurred that week, ranging from Penelope Isles to Rose Betts. All of which showcased these rising stars and their immense talents.

Riya Ragu at Great Jones Distilling Co.

Some of the UK’s most talented singers Anaiis and Obii showed their skills in a Red Hook ice cream factory on Friday, March 25. As you walk in the door behind the ice cream shop counter, you go into a room with views of the factory through the window. The room was full of music enthusiasts and people there for a good time. The artists held a captivating show and kept the audience involved throughout the duration of it. This showcase exemplified the powerful voices that come from the UK and gave an idea of the future of UK artists and their abilities.

Great Calling – The National Arts Club – March 29 (review and photos by Michael Dinger)

The last of four shows performed at iconic spaces in Manhattan and Brooklyn over the past week, the Great Campaign’s final act took place at The National Arts Club at Gramercy Park this past Tuesday night. A collaboration with SoFar Sounds, these intimate gatherings have showcased homegrown artists from Great Britain that are all on the verge of stardom. The featured musicians of tonight’s festivities included Rose Betts (singer/songwriter), Geo Jordan (multi-instrumentalist/producer/writer) and Hamzaa (R&B singer/songwriter). If witnessing the talent of these young musicians was not enough, guests were also immersed in the expressive, wondrous paintings of the contemporary Cuban artist Carlos Quintana, which hung from the walls throughout the performance space. His exhibition, PHySIKA, is on view until April 8th.

Rose Betts, originally from London, was the evening’s first performer. After being introduced by Adam (the night’s emcee) as having “a voice that melts like butter,” Betts sat down before a Steinway for the first of five songs, while accompanied by Emmanuel Ventura-Cruess on an upright bass. Featuring songs from her newly released debut album, White Orchids (RAB Records), Betts introduced “Foolish” as “one of the few songs [she’s] written about love.” The songstress concluded her opening set with “Think Of You” and “Recovery,” a tune that Betts exclaimed to the audience was “the first song where [she] allowed [herself] to be vulnerable.”

After a brief intermission, Geo Jordan was the second British artist of the night to entertain the intimate crowd of approximately 100 souls in attendance. While on guitar, Jordan opened the set with “Let Go,” taken from the 5-song EP Technicolour (August 2021). This EP was self-produced by Jordan, a Trans artist who uses his music to explore topics such as identity and acceptance. Moving over to the piano for “The Colour Of You” (the title track from his 2017 EP), Jordan revealed, “I never know quite what to do with applause, thank you.” With a guitar back in his hands, Jordan went on to perform what can best be described as progressive soul pop tracks such as “Forever,” taken from the EP titled The Colour Of You (2017) and “Irreplaceable,” from the album Remember Me Pt. 1 [MD1] (2019).

The final act of the night was Hamzaa, a soul artist from Hackney (East London) who has been writing her own songs before she was even a teenager. Accompanied by Jeffandy AllTogether (guitar) and Chad Selph (keys), the first of her 6-song set was “Unlucky,” taken from Phases EP (2019). After bringing back Emmanuel Ventura-Crues for a guest appearance on bass, the highlight of the night was still to come. Hamzaa’s blissful closing number titled “Sunday Morning,” also from Phases EP, captured the cheerful mood of the event, with the audience singing the chorus in unison – “You make me feel like it’s a Sunday morning” . . . even on a Tuesday night.

You can learn more about GREAT Campaign and SoFar Sounds here.

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