Henna Angus launched Paramount Music as a showcase for Leeds’s grime, hip-hop and R&B talent in 18 months ago. “I’d been thinking about it for three years before then but it just finally managed to happen,” she says.
Its first gig was at the HiFi Club and featured Dialect, Weezy Jefferson, Tila and Tavelah from TV show The Voice and Cherie Johnson. Since then it’s gone from strength to strength with acts taking part in Breeze Festival, Under The Owls at Kirkgate Market and the Black Music Festival.
“The whole idea behind Paramount Music is to create a platform for emerging artists,” says Angus. “There are loads of them out there but it’s treating the artists fairly as well.
“I’m a singer myself, I’ve been singing since the age of nine and you do see there’s a bit of a hierachy when you go to performance shows. Upcoming artists don’t get exactly the same privileges as signed artists and I’d just like to create parity between the two and also give them at the shows a chance to be in front of industry professionals as well so they can take their music from there.”
At the moment Paramount Music is more of an umbrella organisation than gig promoter or management company but Angus believes it has scope to develop.
“It’s quite early,” she says. “We’ve only been going for just over a year.
There’s an ocean of talent in Leeds and the great thing about it is everyone’s wanting to branch out and work with each other.Henna Angus
“At the moment I’m producing and directing music videos and events and also doing artist development with rehearsals and performance techniques.”
Musically Angus is focusing on the grime, hip-hop and R&B scene. “Within that everything is starting to merge together. As time goes by pop is becoming R&B and hip-hop is becoming part of pop. There are folk singers, there are acoustic singers as well that will be performing at upcoming events so we are branching outbecause at the end of the day everyone loves just good music, not necessarily genres.”
Angus is also mentoring a singer called Tamara Sharp. “She performed on the main stage on the Sunday at Leeds Carnival and on the Monday at the Carnival Village. I’ve been working with her and helping with her performance and writing songs.”
Angus has found a rich seam of musical talent within the Leeds region. “It is unbelievable,” she says. “There are so many pockets of different talent as well. There’s an ocean of talent in Leeds and the great thing about it is everyone’s wanting to branch out and work with each other.”
Her latest venture, the Cypher Sessions, produced with Leeds City Council’s Studio 12, brings a variety of artists together for two collaborative music videos. Among those taking part in the first are Dialect, Weezy Jefferson, Paddy Gfe, Crawler, Swish and Angry. “It’s about bringing different artists that wouldn’t necessarily work together and putting them under one roof,” Angus explains.
The second video is a collaboration of singers. “It’s like a medley of songs. Cherie Johnson is more of a gospel/R&B singer then you’ve got Tila and Tavelah as well, they’re amazing and they just complement each other throughout the song. It’s great to see them work harmonies out and compose together.”
Paramount Music is also staging a Music Meets Fashion event at The Warehouse in Leeds on November 5. “I love fashion and I love music,” says Angus. “A lot of people are defined by what they wear, what they listen to, it becomes a culture of itself. I really wanted to put that across.
“The important thing as well, with Leeds trying to become the European Capital of Culture, it’s just being able ot bring all the arts together and show that we are working together as a team. It’s showing upcoming artists that are designing their own [fashion] lines, who have even set their own companies up and everyone’s in their youth so it’s just a great opportunity and a bit of a motivation boost for everyone as well.”
Among the musicians taking part are Bianca Gerald, 90’s, Alyshah and Tamara Sharp. Doors open at 8pm and tickets are £6. For details visit http://www.ticketarena.co.uk/events/Paramount-Music/