16 artists are being nurtured by the Southbank Centre as Emerging Artists in Residence in what they’re styling an “eclectic hub for music and performance”. Keeping you ahead of the curve, we’re getting closer to this multi-talented bunch of singer-songwriters, rappers, MCs and beatboxers, spoken word artists and DJs in a series of interviews.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Ayanna Witter-Johnson and I am a Singer/’Cellist, Composer and Pianist.
Where do you live and what do you like about it?
I live in Lewisham and I like the juxtaposition between its serenity and unrest. There’s something for everyone.
What inspires you about London? What’s your favourite bit?
The way in which people from all over the world have over time enriched, expanded and developed the city’s community, architecture and history. I love the Southbank.
How much time do you spend at the Southbank Centre? Have you found any secret bits?
An increasing amount! I’d say a few times a week on average. I haven’t found any secret bits as such, but there are plenty of good places to hide.
What does the EAR programme mean to you?
For me, the programme is a chance to develop an overall awareness of how your artform can relate to your audience and other artists.
What do you hope to achieve through it?
I hope to develop my ability to collaborate with other artists. How to create, organize, publicize and host events as well as developing an ongoing relationship and creating new relationships with audiences.
What was your first place to perform in London and where do you aspire to perform?
My first gig was in the bar at Theatre Royal Stratford East and I would love to perform at Carnegie Hall.
Who in your genre should we be watching / listening to and why?
Esperanza Spalding, who is a wonderful singer/bass player, composer from the U.S.A. Her songs are unique and she’s a talented musician.
What would mark you, by your own ambitions, as an Established Artist in Residence rather than an Emerging Artist in Residence?
Having a greater range of performance experience, a consolidated repertoire of solo and collaborative material, a record of my work and a solid fan-base.
Have you ever busked? Would you ever?
Not at such but I did do a short impromptu performance at Milton Keynes Train Station this week for all those caught up in the disastrous train delays heading South and that went down a treat! I also volunteered my musical services for the wonderful Crisis Charity over Christmas. I would definitely busk.
Have you ever been sick on the tube?
No. But there’s always a first time for everything!
Listen to Ayanna online, see her perform an hour-long free acoustic gig with pianist Pete Edwards in The Front Room of the Queen Elizabeth Hall 9pm on the 27th of January and catch her with all the other EARs at Takeover, 27 February at the Festival Hall, £6.