Musicians awarded 2021 Drake YolanDa award

Two promising musicians have been awarded £3,000 each to help support and advance their careers, writes Davina Hyde.

Ife Ogunjobi and Maz O’Connor were among the 10 winners of the 2021 Drake YolanDa award, which aims to provide assistance to help emerging artists overcome the obstacles presented to them by Covid.

Trumpeter and composer, Mr Ogunjobi, is a rising star in the London jazz scene.

His musical concept removes the barriers between the different genres of music and portrays an authentic London sound.

Ife’s live and studio collaborations have been critically acclaimed.

He has toured worldwide on stages such as Glastonbury’s West Holts Stage with Ezra Collective or Joe Armon Jones, and been featured on Moses Boyd’s Mercury Music Prize shortlisted Album Dark Matter.

He said: “It was amazing to receive the award, and nice to know that the team who presents the awards believe in what you are trying to create, and believe in the music you make, believe in your vision, and are willing to support and fund that.”

Lewisham-based singer-songwriter, Maz O’Connor, has found the pandemic difficult because she wasn’t able to play in-person events for more than a year.

Lewisham-based singer-songwriter, Maz O’Connor

For the first 50 days of the lockdown Ms O’Connor arranged, sang and posted a three-part harmony song every morning.

The arrangements were acappella versions of a huge range of songs, from Fleet Foxes to Whitney Houston via the traditional Irish song The Parting Glass.

She said: “It was a good way to keep myself musically active, as well as stay in touch with my followers. People responded to it really well.”

Ms O’Connor writes contemporary folk story-songs, and in the summer of 2020 recorded an album which takes the listener on a journey around London at night.

The Drake YolanDa Award is going to pay for the marketing and promotion of the album.

She said: “I feel very humbled and am very grateful to receive the award.”

Award-winning saxophonist and broadcaster YolanDaBrown teamed up with entrepreneur James JP Drake to launch the 2021 Drake YolanDa award, first launched in 2019, and returning after the Covid break.

The award is for musicians who have faced an unprecedented level of challenges at the beginning of their careers.

The winners of this year’s award were selected from 600 entries.

A total sum of £35,000 was awarded to the 10 emerging artists working across music genres ranging from hip-hop to funk, folk, country, jazz and indie, with 10 runners up also receiving £500 each.

The Drake YolanDa Award was created to provide a platform for young artists to showcase their talent and help their development, helping them record new music, marketing and branding, purchasing new equipment and touring.

The award ceremony took place at Roundhouse Studio Theatre on November 6.

Pictured: Trumpeter and composer, Mr Ife Ogunjobi



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