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A very private affair

SPEAKING THE TRUTH: George The poet, Jas and Wretch 32

THIS week I had the pleasure of attending the Royal Television Society Futures Preview of 2013 where TV host Richard Bacon presented an evening at Channel 4 titled What will television look like in 2013?

The RTS is an organisation which gathers young TV makers, movers and shakers to come together regularly and network in the TV industry. On the night we discussed matters such as; who will be the break out stars and what will the unmissable shows be.

The panellists lifted the lid on tomorrow’s hottest trends in TV programming, revealed the talent who'll be all over our screens and the pages of Heat magazine, and predicted how some of the nations’ favourite shows will change and develop in a valiant attempt to stay popular.

On the panel was Dan Cook, director of research & insight at ITV and Vicky Frost, editor of The Guardian television and radio.

Then it was fellow Capricorn Kojo's birthday party on Saturday at Anaya, followed by a show at the Hackney Empire on Sunday- a whole weekend of Kojo!

Finally I had the honour of witnessing something refreshingly new, unique and positive in the UK music industry. I get invited to showcases that are promoting new acts all the time. Much of the time it’s a struggle to even reply to every invitation because they are so similar in looks and sounds.

This is why anything that’s sent with a personalised invitation is a winner. I wasn’t the only one that thought so, as on my arrival at the Royal Albert Hall’s very private Elgar room, every table was full of playlist heads, A&R teams, print press journalists, bloggers, radio heads and more. The buzz was quiet but strong.

It helped that the invitation came from rapper Wretch 32 and his manager Zeon and read: “Join us for George The Poet's headline show at the Royal Albert Hall. George sold out the event in less than 24 hours and with that we anticipate this being an amazing night.”

They weren’t lying. It was certainly a landmark moment. The grand venue is special, it can’t just house any old random newcomer. You need to be as dynamic as your surroundings. Everyone was on time, seated, drinks on table and there was a great vibe of anticipation in the room.

1Xtra deejay Vis introduced the night and brought on the opening act Jacob Banks who started with a cover of the classic Marvin Gaye song Let's get it on. Even though it’s hard to judge talent when they perform cover songs - he owned it in his own very relaxed style.

Jacob won the Adidas competition to work with Plan B back in 2011 as part of their All In campaign and I could see from the sports brands table that they were very proud and delighted to see Jacob on stage and appreciating that he is in the great hands of manager Zeon Richards under the Renowned Collective.

In the audience and up on their feet was singer Gabrielle, music producer Naughty Boy, former Radio1Xtra head Ray Paul, Girls Aloud member Nicola Roberts, Tinie Tempah, and George The Poet’s parents, friends and family.

After a very brief break for a drink, Vis introduced North London’s finest Wretch32. Wretch bounded onto the stage wearing a sharp black suit and welcomed us as he explained why George had his total support. Later George and Wretch’s manager Zeon told me that he literally had to hunt George down after seeing him perform.

Apparently he asked him to call him numerous times but never heard back from George. Zeon finally got through to George via George’s girlfriend. Perhaps its because George is in his final year of his politics degree at Cambridge and therefore otherwise distracted!

When George finally took to the stage he was immediately engaging. His set began in total silence, and then eventually a lone violin, a piano, a guitar and then his opening act Jacob helped him sing hooks and finally a small choir of singers scattered throughout the audience.

George built his narrative up into a crescendo where the audience were literally hanging off his every word and then brought us to a climax with a clever line: “A man either kills or destroys- don’t be Scarface-he kills his boys" to which the crowed cheered."

Make no mistake; this was no ordinary spoken word poetry show – not at all. Onstage behind George were six huge video set lights and a bank of video shoot strip lights. They looked dramatic. Like a hip hop video visual. It was clever juxtaposing simple word with modern day visuals.

A true theatrical spoken word experience that kept us engaged - it felt like a new artistic modern genre. I could see it as a regular theatre tour across the country, but also as a one hour TV special on Channel 4 or MTV.

My friend, who I brought along as a plus one, hadn’t originally wanted to come as spoken word wasn’t really her ‘thing’, was visibly moved and impressed and couldn’t stop gushing about how inspired she was. George will have this effect on you all. I guarantee it.


SPEAKING THE TRUTH: George The poet, Jas and Wretch 32

Jasmine Dotiwala is a TV producer, director and broadcast journalist. Email her atjasmine@hiphop.com Follow her on Twitter: @jasminedotiwala

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