Over five days nine emerging Leeds female musicians worked with singer-songwriter Bianca Gerald with support from composer and producer Christella Litras. The group wrote and produced original music exploring themes of female empowerment, artistic identity and authenticity, asking: “what does it mean to be a female artist in 2019?”

The residency and performance was delivered in partnership with Brighter Sound as part of their Both Sides Now programme, developed in response to low levels of female representation across the music industry – Both Sides Now pushes the agenda forward for women in the North of England. The programme supports, inspires and showcases female music creators and industry professionals through an exciting programme of creative residencies, artistic commissions, training and events – with the aim of reframing perceptions, challenging stereotypes and influencing lasting change.

Participants were treated to industry visits from leading female professionals who shared insight into their careers and experiences of working within the music industry, including Emily Pilbeam from BBC Introducing, Reggae artist Empress Imani and Henna Angus, founder of Paramount Music. They performed work produced at the end of the week in a showcase at Room 700, Leeds Central Library. It was attended by a diverse audience of over 30 people including a Leeds Councillor, in addition to being filmed and promoted online.

About Bianca Gerald: A singer, writer and visionary – Bianca’s genre hops from Pop, R&B, Soul to Dance. She has toured the world as a backing vocalist for Heather Small, performed at the London Olympics 2012 and has been playlisted on BBC Radio. Bianca’s debut work ‘The Butterfly EP’ was released in 2014 and her follow up EP ‘Feelings’ is garnering industry support, with Alan Raw naming her as one of BBC Introducing’s ‘Ones To Watch’.

I have loved running my own songwriting residency. It’s been immense – with support from support from Studio12, Brighter Sound and the lovely ladies I brought in – Christella Litras, Empress Imani and Henna Angus. The performance was amazing. I’m blown away – it was phenomenal. Absolutely Beautiful. So incredibly proud of each and everyone of you. This was and always will be my honour.” – Bianca Gerald

About Christella Litras: A multi-talented musician, producer, composer, musical director and arranger based in Leeds, who lives and breathes music. An accomplished player of four instruments and experienced Youth Worker, Stella is also the Musical Director of Caution Collective. “Every artist comes with their own unique stamp and this week has really allowed them to discover that – to own who they are and bring their authenticity to the table. By them doing that they can really explore who they are and how they want to portray themselves as artists… If I was A&R right now I’d be signing all of them!” – Christella Litras

“The performances were fantastic – thank you so much for inviting me.” – Sharon Hamilton, Leeds Councillor

“Getting to work with so many female musicians is not something I’ve been able to do before – I really enjoyed that!” – Maddie

“I’ve always been a bedroom performer and never realised I had the talent or ability to develop a collection of music. Self belief has been a paramount focus of the week and has really lifted me up to believe in my music. Knowing I have access now to professional recording equipment and a hub of knowledge about the music industry will make all the difference. Now I feel empowered to get gigging and put music out there! I’m so grateful to have been offered such an amazing and uplifting opportunity. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!” – Grace

“I have realised there are other avenues within music to explore. I know more career paths and how I can get involved.” – Beth

“So useful to have a free space to record/write everyday this week. It has been eye opening just how much that helps. I found it incredibly useful to have amazing guidance from Bianca and Stella.” – Agata

Live recording of the performance