Why Ayanna Witter-Johnson is MOBO’s 'one to watch' in 2014

Ayanna WJ

Trinity Laban graduate Ayanna Witter-Johnson, is winning rave reviews for her debut EP, Black Panther, which MOBO called "stunning".

MOBO said: "Ayanna Witter-Johnson is definitely taking center stage with her amazing new EP...Johnson is finally showcasing her solo star power….and combines an intensely soulful vocal performance with a knack for authentic storytelling that comes straight from the heart."

The soul and folk singer-songwriter, accomplished cellist and musician will perform at venues across the UK this month including Southbank Centre and The Space, Nottingham Contemporary.

Ayanna graduated from Trinity Laban with a BMus in Classical Composition, and she also won the Trinity Laban Silver Medal. She then did a Masters in Composition at the Manhattan School of Music after she was awarded the Edward and Sally Van Lier fund scholarship. Since returning to the UK she has worked with artists such as Natty and Roberto Fonseca and Norah Jones, and received her first MOBO nomination in 2012.

Ayanna spoke exclusively to the Flash: "I started to build my professional network as an undergraduate, building a network of other musicians and professionals, with whom I have collaborated and continue to work with. My professional skills project and electives that I chose in my final year have all helped me since graduating from Trinity Laban."

Was it hard to find an agent?

It happened organically and they found me, as a result of doing lots of shows and building a fanbase. 

What was the experience of putting together your debut CD like?

It was extensive, very involved and intense. For me, writing and recording the songs was the most enjoyable part, yet the paperwork around it, including negotiating a deal with the producer, booking the studio, getting the photoshoot for the artwork organised including hair, make up, location and so on, the rights of the photos, getting the CD cover designed, manufacturing of the CD and of course PR takes a lot of planning, focus and dedication as well as funds.

What is it like dealing with media?

I love interviews, especially radio.  It's just a question of balance, there does come a point where it feels like so much press is happening, that it's taking up a significant chunk of time.  However, I do want people to hear my music so I'm thankful for the various platforms and the new audiences that I am continually reaching as a result.




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