Saturday 12th August
The Cosmopolitan Carnival
This year’s festival organised by Cosmopolitan Arts took place today, over a variety of stages and performance areas in the centre of Leicester.
The main stage was located in Jubilee Square, with smaller stages at Humberstone Gate and at the Clock Tower. In the High Street there was a ‘dance zone.’ There was also an exhibition of local art by members of the Knighton Lane Artists Group at the Highcross Art Gallery. The programme started at 2 p.m. and ran through to about 8 p.m. The whole festival was free.
The Carnival formed part of the Leicester’s annual City Festival which runs from 12th to 28th August and offered street entertainment, sports, culture, music, art, heritage and more. Find out about the City Festival from the link below.
The main stage was compèred by Kevin Ncube and Andrea Bennett of BBC Radio Leicester.
Opening the main stage programme was Sarah Bird Band. A group of local musicians and singers, they played a mix of funk and R&B. Sarah Bird is an artist who has been appearing on Leicester’s stages for many years; she also featured in the first podcast from Yellow Bean Studios about four years ago.
One of the youngest performers was Lil-T (Teon T Foster) who gave a performarkable performance on the Humberstone Gate stage.
Singer and song-writer Jesse Wright gave a fantastic performance on the Humberstone Gate stage. She is a well-known Leicester artist who often performs at festivals.
Another Leicester artist who has been performing in the city for many years is the incomparable Calvin Jeffrey. His performance was full of colour and msuical delights.
The Mixtones was formed 2014 by lead vocals and rhythm guitarist Peter Hinds joined later by lead vocalist his younger brother Adrian specialising in old authentic ska/reggae who hopes to bring it all back to its proper glory. The band appeared at the Western Park festival last year. The band’s set of ska, reggae and two-tone songs kept the crowd dancing in the sunshine and echoed the diversity of our city’s cultures and ethnic influences. We saw them at the Enderby festival in 2015.
Tony Webster Band
The Tony Webster Band is a seven-piece latin rock band that plays with style and energy. The band has entertained throughout the East Midlands for the past seven years and have developed a dedicated following, with its great percussion and bass back line, led by the lead guitar of Tony Webster and the wonderful, captivating vocals of Astra Sirbon.
Dance was a feature of the Cosmopolitan festival with several dance groups putting on exiciting routines around the city centre.
All the way from New Zealand, and in Leicester again on one of its many world tours, the band entertained the crowd with its cocktail of African roots sounds, and compelling rhythms. With seven full-length albums, four EPs, a handful of hits, countless collaborations and numerous world tours, it’s been a near 20-year labour of love for the man behind the music, Andrew Spraggon. And although it’s punctuated with twists and turns in the form of constant change and innovation, one thing has remained the same – Spraggon’s steadfast commitment to making great albums that seamlessly blend a myriad of genres, from hip-hop and jazz, to neo-soul, latin and funk. Now, the Auckland-based music-maker is poised to unveil the next steps in the Sola Rosa journey. It begins with the stonking beat-heavy track So Fly featuring British singer Kevin Mark Trail, who rose to prominence in the early 2000s working with The Streets.
A diverse event of this kind would not be complete without a group of drummers bring to life the rhythms of the African Djembe and other percussion instruments.
Artist Mr Shay was on stage with his guitarist.
Mr Shay is a beatboxer, rapper, poet, producer and artist.
Two singers from Leicester with their band made a strong impression on us when we saw them at the Simon Says festival and heard their fantastic voices and fabulous tunes. They were good; very good. Nia Soul will be supporting Soul II Soul at the O2 in Leicester on 16th September. I saw them at SSF and said ‘Someone asked me if, during this festival, I had discovered any new talent. Well this was it. Two remarkable singers. Beautifully harmonised voices. Superb singing. They had attracted one of the largest crowds I had seen all weekend in the Band Stand area. ‘ [Music in Leicester magazine 2017.] As the programme notes said ‘Not one definitive style but a distinctive sound that encompasses Soul, RnB, Neo Soul, Acid Jazz, Hip Hop and Funk. All blending together to create the refreshing sound of Nia Soul.’
The winners of the Talent Competition was announced: the artist who was given first place by the Judges was Lydia Unsudimi; she won a recording session with HQ, the studio run by Yassin. Her music was inspired by Tina Turner, she told the audience.
One of Leicester’s foremost singers and songwriters, Mahalia gave a captivating performance of her songs on the main stage. I knew about the phenomenal Mahalia from some of her previous appearances. At 14 years of age she is an astonishingly talented singer. Her delightful, colourful vocal tones carried her first song into the audience, lulling them with its sweet, darkly sensitive tones. Mahalia is an artist I have known for some time. I saw her at Summer Sundae festival:
She then went on to deliver some more upbeat, vibrant songs using her remarkable voice to decorate her singing with sensational arabesques. The third song was laced with sultry, scintillating acoustic imagery, backed by her musicians with a latin and swing feel, it brought considerable appreciation from the audience. Coming from a musical family, Mahalia’s music is highly likeable and her set today was absolutely enchanting. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2012]
Mahalia has recently been signed to Atlantic Records.
Now 19 and based in Leicester, Mahalia is ready to fully unleash what she’s been brewing into the world. In the time since she first picked up that guitar, she’s dropped a scattering of releases – from 2012’s indie-flecked acoustic dream “Head Space” to 2015’s gorgeously understated 4-track EP “Never Change” – which was premiered on i-D – and last year’s genre-flipping mixtape “Diary of Me”, picking up praise from the likes of The Independent and MTV. In 2015, her unique voice caught the attention of Rudimental, who asked her to feature on their easy-going summer anthem We the Generation, pushing her name to a wider audience in the process. But for Mahalia, it feels as if she’s just getting started.
It is always good to see the great Carol Leeming; one of this city’s most prestigious artists and celebrities.
The main stage was completed by an ensemble of musicians who gathered together for the all-stars finale.
Dancing in the streets
On the High Street there were two performances by the Leicester Theatre Group. A large crowd gathered to see the amazing talent of these young artists as they performed a song from Les Miserables. The singing from the lead vocalists was breath-taking, the dance routines beautifully synchronised and the whole set an amazing example of what the youth of Leicester has to offer. The LTG will be performing the school edition of the Victor Hugo classic at the Little Theatre from 19th September to 23rd September 2017.
If today’s sets are anything to go by, and I am sure they are, this will be an exciting and highly rewarding experience. Described as ‘stunning’ their performance certainly was that.
The Cosmopolitan Carnival was organised by Amanda Leandro.