Over the summer I attended various gigs documenting my experience of music through my work as a visual journalist. One gig I attended really stood out for its variety of musical talent. ‘Songs in the Sky’ is an event held by the music startup and fair trade online platform for musicians, Songwall. It was obvious when I arrived in the penthouse suite of Birmingham’s Rotunda building that ‘Songs in the Sky’ would be a unique experience. With stunning views over-looking the fabulous city of Birmingham from the wonderful ‘Staying Cool’ self-serviced apartments, we were blown away by the panoramic views of the city that on a clear summers evening went on for miles. It was certainly a different ‘birds eye’ view of Birmingham.
The small select group of people at the gig seemed to whisper into their wine glasses, aware of the fact they were attending an intimate and unique musical gathering. The evening opened with Songwall’s founder, Brendan Poynton, performing one of his songs as a prelude to the start of the night.
The first scheduled artist was called The Shaded Squares led by Louis Bennet from Stourbridge. Accompanying him was his new band member Dave Kemp on guitar. I was really impressed how every song they delivered was well crafted and also carried a catchy tune. Louis Bennett, the singer is a fine songwriter and has a voice that is so comforting. As I looked around the room I could see the rest of the crowd were in awe of this artist and how good the songs were. The guitarist added a nice dimension to the landscape of the songs as he played a lot of ‘Slide’ guitar.
The Shaded Squares have released a song called ‘Happy Again’ along with a colourful and fun video which can be found on Youtube. I would like to see The Shaded Squares perform live with a full band to see how it would make the songs grow. I think this band could go very far.
Born and bred in Birmingham, Stella is a rising talent with a unique style. With her blend of pop, hip-hop and jazz, Stella has created her own hybrid genre and brings a fresh sound into the contemporary pop scene. Stella has released her music across multiple platforms including a music video for one of her most popular songs, ‘Paint Me a Picture’. I liked this song so much I did just that, I painted a picture!.
From the first song, I was deeply attracted to Stella’s deep yet slightly hoarse vocal sound. She exudes a personna of being cool, cute and millenial and this oozes through in her sound. She is the sort of singer that has you hooked in whether she is singing acapela or with a band. As a woman, the lyrics of her songs resonated deeply. ‘Paint Me a Picture’, told of experiences that we can all relate to, those memories we hold that are bitter sweet, it reminded me of my own life, I find this style of song and lyrics so very charming and invocative. Stella’s performance needs to be seen live and is totally different to listening to her tracks online. At just 19 years old, Stella is one of those artists who has you still thinking about her music all night and into the next day.
Bluebyrd rounded off the evening with their up-beat indie-folk taking it up a notch in tempo and pace. Their song ‘Run Away to Nowhere’ was particularly poignant for me, with thought provoking lyrics, their style and flow took me away into my imagination where I escaped from the city to somewhere simple with green fields and open space. I couldn’t help but sway to the rhythm of the music quietly indulging in the song. Bluebyrd invoke so much energy, emotion and keep their audience hooked – they are showmen who are well worth a seeing.
Comprising of Chris Rowley on guitar and vocals and Gareth Pask on keyboards, Bluebyrd are well known singer songwriters on the West Midlands circuit and have been gigging extensively for the last 2 and a half years. Since launching their debut album ‘Uneven Ground’ in 2018 the band have received air time featuringlive on the BBC and on numerous local radio stations.
All of the artists left me with a full heart and I am already poised ready to book my ticket for the next ‘Songs in the Sky’ in November, who knows what it will bring!
Article written by Mengxia Liu. IG – @liu.mengxia
Edited by Becky Hulme and Brendan Poynton
Filming & Video Edit: Oana Catalina. IG – @oanaslens
Filming: Abhishek Pandeya. IG – @individualvisuals
Sound: Weronika Gdula
Supported by BIMM Birmingham | Rotor Videos | Purity Brewery
Join the Facebook event page for the final ‘Songs In The Sky’ of 2019 on Thursday 28th November.
Limited Tickets available via the event page link (on Eventbrite)