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Black music talent ‘carving out the sound of modern Scotland’

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Black musical artists are aiming to “carve out the sound of modern Scotland” with support from a trailblazing initiative to transform the country’s music landscape.

Glasgow-based musician Gill Eliver and her manager and promoter Mark Tremaine from Edinburgh are among 40 people to join the POWER UP programme.

Eliver forms part of the four-piece, Glasgow-based rock band Uninvited, which came together during lockdown in 2020.

After starting out as an acoustic singer and songwriter, Eliver knew her main goal was to play in a rock band.

She was determined to create change and said: “I never saw people like me playing the music I grew up listening to.”

Since forming, the band has performed across the globe, winning the BBC Radio 1 live lounge competition in 2022 and headlining the BBC Music Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds, and touring with bands such as Crawlers and Nova Twins.

Mark Tremaine is founder and director of TBS. Entertainment, a music-management and production company based between Glasgow and London.

Spanning a two-decade career, he out as a songwriter and producer in the 90s at Chrysalis which led him to Germany and New York where he toured and opened for Jay Z, Beverley Knight and collaborated with Raphael Saadiq and Monie Love.

Amongst other achievements, in 2020 Tremaine co-founded The African Caribbean Society of Scotland.

As well as a music creator he is known for his trailblazing activism and now has set his sights on the Scottish music scene tackling the various barriers faced by Black Artist’s in diverse musical genre.

This approach to dismantling obstacles has led to The Pisconian’s debut EP, Jazz in the Burgh which looks to broaden to diversity in the Scottish Jazz scene.  

Initially founded in 2021, the POWER UP programme is led by PRS Foundation and backed by industry professionals including Creative Scotland.

It aims to accelerate the breakdown of barriers and create a fairer, more equitable music industry.

The programme is specifically designed to fit the needs of the participants, assisting in the development of their careers and practice.

Support includes grants of up to £15,000 alongside masterclasses, mentoring, coaching, mental health and wellbeing support.

Creative Scotland’s head of music, Alan Morrison said: “Partnering with PRS Foundation on the POWER UP programme is helping to open doors for Black music creators and industry professionals in Scotland, leading to better representation and visibility.

“The Scottish sector is already richer due to Uninvited and Mark Tremaine’s achievements, and POWER UP will place their work – and Scottish music in all of its diversity – in a brighter spotlight.”

Senior POWER UP manager, Yaw Owusu said “We are really excited to welcome the year three cohort to the POWER UP family.

“All of whom are doing such stellar work in their various disciplines and sectors. We are looking forward to adding value to that work and their careers via the POWER UP programme and connecting them with the rest of the ever-expanding POWER UP network.”

Tremaine and Eliver join Bemz (DJ Mag Award), Becky Sikasa and Mobolaji Agor, Sami Omarm and TAALIAH supported in the first two years of the programme

Sami Omarm, CEO, producer and artist manager from Scotland’s music platform, Up2Stndrd, was supported in year one along with TAALIAH, an award-winning Black Trans DJ and producer working at the frontier of pop and electronic music revitalising both genres.

Since taking part in POWER UP TAALIAH received the AIM Award in 2022 for Best Independent EP/Mixtape.

Their 2021 album release Angelica continues to gain critical acclaim and they have been nominated for Breakthrough Artist/DJ at the DJ Mag Awards. 

Bemz, Becky Sikasa and Mobolaji Agoro were among the recipients supported in year two.

Having recently performed at Scotland’s biggest festival, TRNSMT, Glasgow-based rapper Bemz has gone onto achieve great things since taking part winning BBC Radio Scotland’s Act of the Year last year and DJ MAG Breakthrough MC of the Year in 2022. He has recently signed to Live agency, Marshall.

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