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Sage Gateshead Announces Four New Artists In Residence For 2021-22

Four of the North East's most exciting independent artists will be creating new work at Sage Gateshead into 2022.

Posted on 24 September 2021


Sage Gateshead has announced four new Artists In Residence; Martha Hill, Beccy Owen, Hannabiell Sanders and Sågaboi, who started their residencies this September. will work on ambitious projects that will culminate in new recordings and productions in 2022.

The artists were chosen from an impressive range of applicants from across the region who answered a call out looking for four of the most exciting artists in the North East. As residents at Sage Gateshead for the next 10 months, each of the selected artists is at a pivotal moment in their career, with the venue ready to support them to develop an ambitious creative project that will take them in a new direction.

As an Artist in Residence, they will have access to funding, investment in a creative project of their choosing, a residential retreat, rehearsal space, one to one advice and support, and a concert at Sage Gateshead at the end of the residency.

Gloriously confident, Martha Hill weaves their unique take on pop melodies over a backdrop of guitars, cellos and synths, thriving in reinvention and fusion. An energy of husky vocals and melodic hooks, their introspective storytelling picks apart the mundanity of life with northern spirit and humour.

Hill has recently teamed up with Ali Pritchard of Alphabetti Theatre to develop an idea for a musical theatre production. Inspired by Dracula and Hill’s own experiences as a teenager, the musical will discuss themes of sexuality and gender, through an obsession with Dracula, and all set in a teenager’s bedroom. Martha Hill will be using the residency to develop her musical and song-writing ideas for the show, learning how to arrange and score orchestral instruments, and receive mentorship in musical theatre writing, all leading towards a showcase of the music in June 2022.

Beccy Owen is a musician, singer, songwriter, performer, producer, musical director and sound designer. She has established herself as a cherished part of the North East’s cultural fabric and has performed at the UK’s most renowned venues, festivals, and live art programmes. Described as a “formidable and open-hearted musician” (Woodwork UK) and by BBC Radio 6’s Tom Robinson as a “very special talent” Beccy has released seven critically acclaimed albums to date and has shared line-ups with the likes of Elvis Costello, Nitin Sawhney, John Grant and Kate Rusby.

Talking about her residency at Sage Gateshead, Beccy says: “Music has always been a tool for personal healing and exploration for me. As a neurodivergent person I perceive sound as a portal to alternative realities and states. During the residency I want to explore music as an intentional ritual and focus on how, in a collective sense, we might begin to process the mass-trauma of the past few years via music’s reverberating magic. I’m looking forward to having the time and support to experiment and develop something that is genuinely immersive.”

British-Grenadian rapper/singer-songwriter Sågaboi has become a prominent face in Newcastle’s rap scene, turning heads with his unique sound that mixes infectious melodies with eye-opening bars and real northern grit.

Såga’s fearlessly experimental take on modern rap and anti-establishment attitude draws comparisons to the likes of Slowthai, Kanye West and The Weeknd.

Såga said “It’s a great honour to be chosen as Artist In Residence at Sage Gateshead for 2021/22. I view it as a huge compliment to my work so far and also a welcome responsibility to show North East rap as deserving of recognition and credibility amongst the region’s incredible music and arts scene. I will be using my tenure here as a writing retreat to complete my debut studio album and use Sage Gateshead’s resources and creative personnel to produce a very special live show upon its completion. 

I believe we have both the talent and the capacity in our region to stand shoulder to shoulder with the heavyweights of the UK, and I want to use this opportunity to enrich my skills, master my craft and learn to navigate the industry, so as to strengthen my ability to help our burgeoning rap scene become a known entity nationwide and beyond.”

Dr. Hannabiell Sanders is a charismatic musician, composer, activist and progressive music teacher who is committed to using music to break stereotypes and bring diverse communities together.

Hannabiell is an African American Jamaican, originally from New Jersey, currently living in Newcastle. She began her musical and cultural journey as a trombone player at the age of nine. She is an accomplished bass trombonist and African & Latin hand percussionist whose talent was formally recognised in 2012 when she was awarded ‘Performing Artist of the Year’ at the Journal Culture Awards.

Hannabiell is the composer and musical director for the duo Ladies of Midnight Blue, a socially conscious ensemble that blends Afro-Latin percussion, brass, mbira, and handpan. Since moving to the North East, she has worked hard to recreate her Afro-psychedelic collective, Hannabiell & Midnight Blue, which is a direct reflection of its diverse fan base and audience. Their performances never fail to convey the band’s passion for equality and social change. For Hannabiell, music is a means for breaking down personal and cultural barriers.

During her residency at Sage Gateshead she will learn, explore, and experiment with weaving narrative, improvisation, and electronics into her music to better express the themes of identity, freedom, and protest culture that tie her work together. She will be creating a stage show that features herself as a soloist and both her ensembles’ Ladies of Midnight Blue and the Hannabiell & Midnight Blue Collective.

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director at Sage Gateshead, said: “The last 18 months have been immensely challenging for independent and emerging musicians. We’ve worked hard to be here for artists and provide opportunities and practical support.

We are thrilled by the response we received to our recruitment for Artists In Residence and are delighted to be working with four artists who showcase the diverse creativity of our region.

It is fantastic to establish new creative relationships and look to the future. Welcome Martha Hill, Beccy Owen, Sågaboi and Hannabiell Sanders to Sage Gateshead.”

Sage Gateshead is a PRS Foundation Talent Development Partner in association with Youth Music. The residency is supported through this scheme and is part of Sage Gateshead’s commitment to artist development and the future of the music industry in the North East. Every year Sage Gateshead supports more than 100 musicians through its Artist Development programme. The programme includes one to one advice sessions, GP clinics, networking events and performance opportunities, as well as an annual Summer Studios residency programme.

All this takes place to the backdrop of an ongoing financial challenge. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the venue has largely been closed since March 2020, with 80% of its income affected. This year, its income is set to be half of that in a pre-Covid year. Alongside the support of the Culture Recovery Fund from Arts Council England and DCMS, the charity again needs to raise £1m this year and £1m next year to secure its future, rebuild live music in the region, provide vital support to artists, and ensure music is part of everybody’s recovery.