At the Music Halls Project (MHP) we pride ourselves primarily on two things; the quality of artists, and the quality of sound. St Mary’s has a stunning acoustic, which, along with the progressive and visionary attitude of Vicar Vanessa Conant, was the original motivation for starting the project. St Mary’s also has a capacity of over 400, which motivated us to book artists of a very high calibre, for whom we aim to fill the space.
Whilst a completely full house has not been achieved for every concert, the artistic vision for the MHP is to develop a strong reputation and dedicated following; setting the acclaimed and high profile alongside the less well known yet no less musically impressive. Indeed, our focus has from the outset been on music of world class quality, across the genres of jazz, world and folk.
We still have some way to go to developing a reputation as a live events space akin to the Union Chapel, (to whom we are regularly compared) but with every show the good word of our work seems to propagate further, and we have been delighted to see a steady rise in attendance over the past ten months. This is one clear indicator that we are on the right track.
Another sign is the recently announced nominees for the Songlines 2018 Music Awards. At the Music Halls project we have for many years been huge fans of the work of Songlines magazine, revered in the industry as the last word in world music, so you can imagine our delight to see that no less than five of the nominated artists had either played at St Mary’s Music Hall since we opened in May last year, or are coming up later in the year.
The nominated artists are:
- Maya Youseff, who played a hauntingly beautiful set in March.
- Seckou Keita, who played the first St Mary’s show last June. He is nominated with Omar Sosa and is also on the cover of this month’s Songlines in his collaboration with Katrin Finch).
- Shekoy’okh, who played last summer and had people dancing around the church in great jubilation.
- Mokoomba, a fantastic Zimbabwean group who are coming to perform for us in October
- Msfiri Zawose, the artist from Tanzania who played last August, and who is up for best album. We were especially delighted to hear that Msfiri’s record has been tipped to win best album, as it was produced by our very own MHP co-founder Sam Jones!
Some results are released in the May issue, with the remainder set to be announced at the Songlines awards in October at the Electric Brixton. We have our fingers crossed for all the MHP acts and for Sam, expect to hear us shouting about it if they win!