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Free festival promises stars in your eyes

ON THE BILL: Ruby Turner

RETURNING TO east London’s Central Park for 2017 is the much-loved free outdoor music event, Under the Stars.

This year is set to be yet another fabulous programme of musical entertainment over four nights. The event, which is made possible by the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, is an unique opportunity for the whole community to come together in one of Newham’s most beautiful parks and enjoy a truly world- class music festival.

Sir Robin Wales, said: “Newham is one of the few council’s in the country to offer free events like Under the Stars, so our residents can come together, get to know their neighbours and not worry about money.”

Once again the eclectic programme reflects the borough’s diversity, with the line-up featuring reggae grooves, smooth soul, classical music and much more.

Launched in 2000, Under the Stars has become an important date in the diary for local residents and features some of the most exciting names in music. This year is no different, with performances coming from soul legends The Three Degrees, reggae veteran Horace Andy and Massive Attack founder member Grant Marshall – also known as Daddy G – for whom a special DJ slot has been created this year.

“This year’s event has many highlights,” says Sue Meiners, head of events at Newham Council. “Fresh from this year’s Glastonbury Festival, soul diva Ruby Turner should go down a storm when she performs classic hits including It’s Gonna Be Alright, I’d Rather Go Blind and If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me).

“Ruby really is the real deal! Additionally, soul/disco sensations The Edwin Starr Band, featuring Angelo Starr, will be on the bill with tracks like War, Stop The War Now and Agent Double-O-Soul. To put the icing on the cake, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will perform with soloists mezzo-soprano Melanie Marshall and bass- baritone Rodney Earl Clarke before the show is closed with a fantastic firework finale!”

Getting the right acts and ensuring that Newham residents will enjoy them has been key to the success of Under the Stars. Newham’s events team has built on the success of previous events, as well as keeping an
ear to the street to listen to what residents want.

Social media continues to be a helpful tool in enabling organisers to get a steer from residents as to what they would love to hear. This year, residents contacted the events team via Facebook to request that south London reggae star Tippa Irie was included on the bill, and the team has granted their wishes, adding him to this year’s line-up along with The Lockdown Band.

This year’s event features some truly legendary performers such as vo- calist Pato Banton, who will headline the opening night with his five piece band.

Famed for his success with UB40, he is certainly among reggae’s elite. As a current Cali- fornia resident, Under the Stars will be the only London date on his forthcoming UK tour, so expect positive vibrations and a set of upbeat hits.

The legendary girl group The Three Degrees will provide an injection of glamour on Satur- day, August 20 when they feature at the top of the bill. Well-known to be one of Prince Charles’ favourite acts, get ready for gorgeous gowns, disco dance moves and big numbers including When Will I See You Again, Dirty Ol’ Man and Take Good Care Of Yourself.

But with such an impressive talent roster, is it hard to secure these artists? “Over the years, Under the Stars has built up a great reputation within the industry as well as with our residents,” Meiners explains.

“Newham crowds give a warm welcome and we have enjoyed fantastic attendance numbers at previous events, which artists really appreciate, so this has made attracting big names a lot easier.”

As well as being a welcoming crowd, previous audiences have also been prepared to party at the outdoor event in all types of weather. “Last year we had thousands of people dancing to Junior Marvin’s Wailers in the rain and in 2012 we had a downpour during Soul II Soul’s set,” Meiners recalls.

With four free nights of fun and fantastic music, Under the Stars is set to provide something for everyone. Meiners adds: “People should come to Under the Stars to catch up with old friends and make new ones, have a boogie, enjoy a night out with their families, sample some great food from our selection of caterers and, above all, soak up some unbelievably good live music.”

Under the Stars takes place at Central Park, East Ham, London E6 from August 17-20. For more information, visit newham.gov.uk/uts

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