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Not quite a total success

STRIKE A POSE: Lisa Maffia (3rd from left), Jasmine and friends backstage at Wembley Arena

ALL ROADS led to Wembley Arena where a host of ‘90s stars took to the stage for an R&B extravaganza.

Acts on the bill included Mint Condition, Kut Klose, Total, En Vogue and Blackstreet 2.

On arrival backstage in the Bassbuds VIP lounge, So Solid’s first lady Lisa Maffia was present. I also bumped into Tinchy Stryder who told me he has new music coming out very soon and that he has evolved with the times. I think we all know he’s a master chameleon, having gone from grime star to pop star, so I’m sure his new music will be well worth a listen.

The main arena was buzzing courtesy of Rampage sound system who had the crowd on their feet between each act’s performance. They delivered jungle, slow jams, dancehall and a hip-hop set, much to the audience’s delight. The crowd also did the Candy dance en masse, and it’s always a breathtaking vision to see thousands of people moving in unison.

One of my favourite bands, Tony Toni Toné brought the show to a great midway climax – before girl group Total made it crash. I say girl group but it wasn’t actually the full line up, as only two of the three members turned up and much of their set was mimed, which was a big disappointment.


MISSING LINK: Only two of the three members of girl group Total performed

En Vogue then came and smashed the show with what was, in my opinion, the best performance of the night. Their outfits, vocals and set were fantastic and their choreography was strong and slick. They brought the house down!
Meanwhile, the Blackstreet story is a complicated one, explained recently by the band’s co-founder Teddy Riley in his exclusive interview with Life & Style.

To recap: founding members Riley and Chauncey ‘Black’ Hannibal fell out after Chauncey took Teddy to court to gain full rights over the group’s name. Chauncey won and so when he performs with his new line up, the band is called Blackstreet. And when Teddy performs with his new line up, they are called BS2 (Blackstreet 2).

I reckon both of them need to sort it out because I’ve seen both line ups perform in the past few months, and whilst Chauncey’s was stronger vocally, without Teddy, it just misses something. Please guys, bury the hatchet. Life’s too short!

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IMPROVING LIVES THROUGH MUSIC

Hundreds of youth engagement schemes exist across the UK to attempt to help youth gain employment and life skills. A huge proportion of these use the power of music to work.

I have been asked to attend, oversee, sit on boards and advise on many of these, and I always leave feeling frustrated at their lack of longevity and real progression to actually change lives.

The launch of The Big Music Project funded by the Big Lottery Fund seems different. The launch held at the O2 Arena in London saw over 150 youths from all across the UK arrive to be sworn in as hub ambassadors. These 150 are tasked with mentoring 10 of their peers in their city hubs across the UK in music related activities, talent shows and more.

Lottery funded cash to the tune of £4 million has gone into this and aims to not just make young people more confident and gain employment skills, but also encourage them into a music career that isn’t the music star or producer. It highlights the hundreds of other jobs that exist in music from rigger, roadie, fire tech, jingle writer and so on.

This area will also cover training on marketing, social networking, recording, production, PR, promotion, legal affairs and other elements that will help talented acts rise to the next level.

The afternoon included Q&A panels, performances by ridiculously talented classical and pop youngsters about to hit their own fame, and an exclusive backstage tour of the BRIT Awards set just two days ahead of the renowned awards show.

Speakers included artists Plan B (pictured), MNEK and Chase & Status, as well as music executives and young people in the music industry, who were happy to share their journeys and experiences.

There was much excitement and screaming when Plan B stepped onstage to tell them about his Each One Teach One (EOTO) trust, which is a charity founded to improve the lives of young people by providing access to new skills.

“If you don't have a clear talent, it just seems impossible to make something of yourself in the society that we live in,” he said. “There just doesn't appear to be enough places you can go, offering advice and support.

“We [EOTO] have decided to support the The Big Music Project because it will attempt to do just that, by not only providing information, but creating and highlighting genuine opportunities for all young people interested in music and beyond.”

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SKY IS THE LIMIT

I recently popped over to Sky News to join the wonderful anchor Kay Burley live on air to talk about that evening’s Brit Awards. I do love being a social commentary pundit but I love Sky News even more for being the only broadcaster that calls me for an opinion, not just when it’s an ‘ethnic’ issue or a negative discussion about ‘urban music’. Big up Sky!

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ALL CHANGE AT OFCOM

I recently attended an interesting event held at the House of Commons. It was a dinner hosted by the Royal Television Society (RTS) All Party Parliamentary Group, in honour of Dame Colette Bowe – the outgoing chair of Ofcom who was stepping down after five years in the role.

Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. In other words, they are the body you contact if you’re not happy with something you see on UK media channels.

Viewers and listeners often complain to Ofcom about programmes they’ve seen or heard on TV and radio, so it's a huge responsibility for the organisation.

I arrived 30 minutes early to get through the rigorous security check at the main gate, which is akin to airport security. By the time I’d had my photo taken, removed and replaced my shoes, belt, jacket and coat and made my way through the grand hall, I was just in time to join the reception drinks. There, I spotted my fellow RTS Futures committee members, including Channel 4 head David Abraham and Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE.

Dinner was a lot of fun with discussions both serious and frivolous about current TV and big screen content accompanied.
We all listened intently as Dame Colette revealed that technology has totally changed news content and the things viewers are now more likely to accept on their TV screens.

It was a fascinating opportunity to hear first hand about the trials and challenges facing our broadcast regulators on a daily basis. Good luck to the next chair at Ofcom – you have a huge task ahead!

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