Artist & Manager Awards 2021
It was Monday evening and a message popped up on my phone. It had been a long day and I nearly didn’t look. I smiled. It’s a lovely feeling when a good friend you’ve not heard from in quite some time gets in touch. Especially after these different times.
“Are you doing anything on Thursday?” He asked.
After further conversation, the plans were in place. Thursday afternoon arrived and my driver was waiting for me on my doorstep. It was freezing, but we are in November after all. The leaves dancing in the wind and Winter sunshine like coy carp in the trees. Red, yellow, orange and gold. As the daylight faded I watched from the window as London lit up before me. A sight I used to see so regularly. Now I feel like a tourist in my own country. The sky scrapers, Wembley stadium, the Hoover building, so much to take in and see. All the while my camera bag close by my side, ready and waiting, always. My driver brought me to the door and I said my goodbyes. The Bloomsbury Big Top sparkling ahead. A simple lay out, but a really pretty one. The event was getting ready for kick off, so I got my camera out and started to get myself ready. I received a message, they had arrived.
This is an English Gentleman who has had such an extreme amount of fame in his life from a gifted talent that is through the purest of all things. Music. Tracks that go through our lives and will stand for generations to come. Infinite sound. His music creates a vibe that is addictive. A feeling that everyone will experience at some point in their life when graced with the presence of his sound. From Barber’s Adagio rocking out on the dance floor ever since its creation, or the iconic and ground breaking “Ray of Light” album he did with Madonna. “Pure Shores”, All Saints, that became the theme tune to the movie “The Beach”. There is so much he has achieved. William Orbit arrived dressed head to toe in Christian Dior. A stunning slick black suit with a white diamond studded broach in the shape of an exploding star. The futuristic design was so mesmerising to behold it was like the portal to Narnia that we’d all been looking for. It was beautiful. We were about to head into the venue when William noticed a man sitting on the wall to the side of the entrance. He was playing an accordion and there was a little bit of small change on the ground. A white stick resting against the wall by his side.
As William politely approached him, the man continued to play his jolly tunes. William spoke so he knew he was there, and as he did so he held the mans hand and gave him some money. The man smiled and was so grateful. They spoke a little and the man continued to play while William sat by his side. I watched this beautiful sight and thought how lovely it was that this man had been acknowledged, for he was giving us this joyous tune for our evenings arrival. It was a sharing of respect from one artist to another. As I looked up at the sky, I could see the stars twinkling up above us.
“It’s going to be a good night”. I thought to myself.
William thanked the man warmly and said his goodbyes as it was time for the party to begin. The happy sound of the accordion faded as we walked away.
Fire dancers welcomed the guests as we walked along the red carpet and came to a champagne reception. The guests poured in and soon the room was alive and full of radiance. I’ve photographed many events in my life, but I have to say there was something different about this one. It’s certainly been a long time since we have been able to do any events, so with that in mind, it was very apparent that each person who came to this was just full of gratitude. A uniting force that felt so respected. To be here now, to be with friends and meet new ones, to share music, and to congratulate, to recognise each individual who is striving to create something special for this world. There was camaraderie about the evening, it was ‘real’.
The tables glistened as they were heavily laden with beautiful magnum bottles of pink champagne and other things. As I walked around the room with my camera, I could hear people say, “It’s so lovely to be here!” The event was canceled last year due to the pandemic, so there was a real essence of grace on this night. Our table consisted of William Orbit, Katie Melua, Karl Neilson, Léonore Carron – Desrosiers, Julia Spain, Maeve (Maeve Music), Lee Alexander (Warner Music), Beatrice Andrew, Beth Wijayarathna and Allan McGrath (Anjunadeep). We were later joined by Arora Georgia who designed the red dress that Maeve was wearing and also her own oufit. Each of our name places on the table were written on a little printed card featuring one of William Orbit’s paintings. A lovely bit of detail that we all got to keep.
The Artist & Managers Awards 2021 were hosted by Roman Kemp who led us all through the night. I glanced at the many names on the table plans and came across “Rocket Entertainment”. I read the name of a guest in attendance that I hold dear to my heart as I’d say do millions of people around the world.
The Artist and Manager award of the night went to Sir Elton John and David Furnish. The room was filled with the sound of Rocket Man, Sacrifice, Your Song and clips of footage from times gone by. Not so long ago really, yet time waits for no one, and we simply do get older. Two weeks ago Elton John had a hip replacement, but he was adamant not to miss the awards ceremony. Rina Sawayama who had just won 2021’s breakthrough artist, presented the prestigious award to Elton John and David Furnish. I felt a slight sting in my eyes as I watched. This incredible man who I’ve listened to all my life, and there he was, just there, a wise Grandfather to us all. He spoke with clarity, substance and from the heart. Each person clinging to every word he said. His gratitude to David Furnish for being a wonderful Father, Husband, Manager and arguments aside, for being a ‘rock’ in his life. I don’t think I can really define exactly how it felt to be in that room, but it was a feeling I shall never forget. When in the company of hard working, solid grafting artistic greatness, your listen, you learn. He made us all laugh too. David Furnish also gave a speech thanking the people, the world and his loving husband, Elton John.
“My mind is still 18, but my legs are 74!” Elton John said as he smiled.
He wore red trousers, pink tinted glasses and held a walking stick. He looked stylish as ever. What a delight he is.
Other awards throughout the night were received by a variety of artists, writers and managers. Women who have strived for what they believe in and hold their own. The Black Music Coalition was a powerful award. The impact of friends being family and how important it is to look after each other every day was something that seemed to resonate throughout the night. The out pouring tributes in general to partners, husbands, wives who stand strong was apparent and a real pleasure to see. What a strength it is in life to have people by your side who you can trust, who you can climb mountains with to achieve your dreams, and go further than you ever thought possible.
Other awards on the night went to:
Little Simz won artist of the year, sponsored by Amazon Music.
Manager of The Year (Sponsored by YouTube Music) ~ Amy Morgan
Breakthrough Manager : Kayleigh Thorpe (Little Runaway Management)
Writer / Producer / Manager: Karmer Artists
Entrepreneur : Grace Ladoja MBE (Metallic Inc)
Innovation (Sponsored by TikTok) : Bicep & This Is Music
Industry Champions: The Black Music Coalition
Team Achievement : YMU Music Group
The evening also marked the eve of the arrival of three time Grammy Award winner William Orbit’s debut release on Anjunadeep. “Starbeam”. Released on Friday 19th November 2021.
“Tony McGuinness, who headed up marketing for Warner Music UK before forming Above & Beyond with Jono and Paavo in the year 2000, worked closely with William Orbit on ‘Pieces In A Modern Style’. Tony put Ferry forward to remix Adagio after hearing System F ‘Out Of The Blue’, and commissioned Mark Farrow to design the cover art for ‘Pieces In A Modern Style’. That design inspired several, subtle aspects of Anjuna’s early record sleeves. The title track is out Friday 19th November 2021, with the full EP, mastered in Dolby Atmos, available on December 1st”. ~ From Anjunadeep Instagram Page
I have had the pleasure of listening to the EP and all I can say is, there is much to look forward to! Get ready. William Orbit is back in full force and there is no stopping him. Exciting times.
We hope you enjoyed reading this. What an evening indeed.
Let Music Be Your Tribe
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All Images © Gem Rey Thank you to William Orbit and Karl Nielson. Event staff Oli Bartlam and the team at (Full Fat Events). Lovely to see stage manager ‘Ray’ whom I worked with at Barry Ashworth’s very awesome festival, Mucky Weekender earlier this year.