Liverpool’s first ever soul festival comes to town this weekend and will be headlined by British singing legend Gabrielle.
The platinum-selling soul singer best, known for hits such as ‘Dreams’ and ‘Rise’, kicks off the festival on Friday night.
Liverpool SoulFest founder Saeed Olayiwola said: “We are so delighted to have Gabrielle play. To have an artist of her calibre play our first ever festival really puts us on the map in a very big way.”
The festival is promoted by Soul Inspired, which also runs the annual Soul Reach charity events and monthly Soul4Soul concerts at Parr Street’s Studio 2.
The SoulFest weekend is also running events that involve food, fashion and dance. The Epstein Theatre will host the Evolution of Soul on Saturday night, which sees four local dance studios take to the stage: Dance Dynamix, Rare Dance Studios, Akademix Dance and Cody Urban Dance.
The event will begin with performances that pay homage to the 1950’s moving right up into modern times with current dance crazes in a bid to portray the history of urban dance and its importance to soul music.
Kelly Parker, the show’s creative co-ordinator and COO of Soul Inspired CIC, said: “Music and dance is a partnership that goes hand in hand. Nowhere has this been more evident than within soul culture… and it is also important for us to showcase the talents of young people across Merseyside.”
Saturday night is headlined by 2015 Mercury Prize nominee Eska. The critically acclaimed British-Zimbabwean will be playing at Constellations on Kitchen Street.
Ayanna Witter-Johnson, the first non-American to win the world famous Amateur Night at the Apollo in New York, closes the festival on Sunday night.
The 2012 MOBO nominee, who plays both the cello and the piano, stressed the need for positive, black, female role models like Nina Simone.
She told JMU Journalism: “Not many black women can overawe an audience like she did. She expressed the truth in a socially turbulent time and was brave. She touched so many people.
“These artists are able to express themselves authentically and they show the wider spectrum of female beauty, skill and ability. This is important because whoever you are, wherever you’re from, you can follow them, but in your own mould.”
Liverpool city councillor Wendy Simon said: “It is a fantastic addition to the city’s cultural offer. It’s shaping up to be an exciting and unique event, promoting Liverpool as the soulful city it has always been.”