Power Up has unveiled the music creators, industry professionals and executives who will make up Year 3 of the participant programme.
The initiative to elevate pioneering Black talent was co-founded by the PRS Foundation and Ben Wynter in February 2021. In the last couple of years, it has become widely recognised in the UK, and internationally, as a long-term initiative to address anti-Black racism and racial disparities in the music sector.
In 2022, Power Up was awarded the inaugural IMPALA Changemaker Award, recognising the scale and speed of impact being made while recommending partnerships and similar initiatives in the independent sectors across Europe.
Power Up has received over 1,200 applications since it was launched in February 2021, with applications from 848 Black music creators and 355 Black industry professionals. Over £12.8m of grant support has been requested across three annual deadlines – with PRS Foundation and funding partners investing over £1.1m into participants’ projects alongside holistic support.
The programme, specifically designed to fit the needs of the participants, assists in the development of their careers as well as accelerating change across the industry. This includes grant support of up to £15,000 alongside capacity-building masterclasses, mentoring, coaching, mental health and wellbeing support, and access to added value support from partners and the peer network.
Year 3 Power Up participants are as follows:
MUSIC INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS
Albert Doku (Ras Kwame)
Mark Tremaine Okata Agbi
The Power Up participant programme is now a 120-person strong network. So far, it has already supported industry professionals taking up senior and board positions across the industry, and creators who are making playlists and line-ups across the UK and globally.
Just some of the success stories from the first and second cohort include Nova Twins, Ego Ella May (Jazz FM Awards), Taaliah (AIM Awards), Bemz (DJ Mag Award) and DoomCannon (MOBO Award).
Industry Professionals winning awards include Jennifer John (AIM Awards), Eunice Obianagha (whose creative events work was nominated for a Music Week Award), Christine Osazuwa and Hannah Shogbola, who joined the Music Week Women in Music Awards’ Roll of Honour.
Several industry professionals have launched new ventures. New roles, promotions and appointments include Adem Holness being appointed head of contemporary music at the Southbank Centre; Ree Sewell being appointed A&R coordinator at Universal; Eric Hunter becoming education & membership engagement manager at the MMF; Christine Osazuwa being appointed as chief strategy officer at Shoobs; Travis Beckford being appointed as associate director for the UK and Europe at ASCAP; and Eunice Obianagha being appointed as head of diversity at UK Music.
Despa Robinson was appointed to the AIM Board, and Daniel Kidane was elected to the Ivors Academy Senate.
Meanwhile, artist KG became a full-time Capital Dance radio presenter; Guvna Bbecame the first rapper to top the UK Official Christian and Gospel Chart; and live agency Marshall signed Cherym and Bemz.
Abel Selaocoe took part in the Proms in 2021 and 2022, signed to Warner Classics, and presented the three-part BBC Radio 3 show Cello Retold. His debut album hit No. 4 in the Classical Album Chart and he appeared on Later… With Jools Holland.
Des Agyekumhene’s company Soga was behind the Close To Home NFT campaign for Aitch, while Forward Slash founder Keturah Cummings was selected for the 2022 Barclays Black Founder Accelerator programme and launched new podcast Jack of All Trades.
Dan Kidane’s Sun Poem was premiered in 2022 with the LSO and Sir Simon Rattle performances across the UK and Europe. Fellow artist participant Dapz On The Map secured a FIFA ’23 soundtrack feature.
Furthermore, Loretta Andrews published her book, Talking to Children About Race, and Adetokunbo “T” Oyelola’s client YolanDa Brown was appointed as chair of the BPI. Oyelola and Brown also launched a campaign to open Soul Mama, a Black-owned music venue.
We urge industry leaders to move beyond symbolic gestures and take concrete action to support this initiative
Senior Power Up manager Yaw Owusu said: “We are really excited to welcome the Year 3 cohort to the Power Up family, all of whom are doing such stellar work in their various disciplines and sectors. We are looking forward to adding value to that work and their careers via the Power Up programme and connecting them with the rest of the ever-expanding Power Up network.”
While Power Up partners continue to recognise the efforts being made across the music sector, the organisation stressed that more needs to be done to move beyond solidarity and into tangible actions.
Ben Wynter, co-founder of Power Up, said: "Three years after the black square movement, many promises and statements appear to have been forgotten. Despite initial pledges for change, we are witnessing the resurgence of injustices, lack of equity, and inequality as things revert to ‘normal’. Power Up demonstrates that empowering Black talent to shatter the glass ceiling leads to success. As we enter our third year and our network grows to 120, it's evident that this program remains a vital lifeline for powering up Black talent.
“We've worked behind the scenes to guide companies in correcting missteps and actively participated in IPO government roundtable discussions on streaming, advocating for diverse voices to be included. Power Up is driving tangible change, staying true to its original purpose. In these uncertain times, we urge industry leaders to move beyond symbolic gestures and take concrete action to support this initiative and honour the promises they made in 2020."
Joe Frankland, CEO of PRS Foundation and co-founder of Power Up, said: “Huge congratulations to the 40 music creators and industry professionals joining our inspiring network of Power Up participants. We have been blown away by the impact of the programme so far and we are really proud of the achievements of Power Up alumni, so I’m excited to meet our new cohort and to ensure the network continues to grow and approaches evolve to tackle complex racial barriers. The results of investing in Black talent speak for themselves and I wanted to thank our many partners and collaborators while encouraging others to get involved.”
Sheniece Charway, artist partnerships manager, Black Music & Culture at YouTube, said: “In an industry where it's all too easy to talk the talk, Power Up is an initiative that truly walks the walk, providing tangible, holistic support to Black talent in the music industry. Now three years in, we are seeing some incredible results from previous cohorts, which is testament to the power of community and what can be achieved when we collectively share knowledge and resources to support one another. We at YouTube are proud to partner with Power Up for a third year and look forward to seeing what this year’s participants have in store for us.”
Sheryl Nwosu, lawyer and chair of the Black Music Coalition, said: “Each year as I watch Black executives and music creatives benefit from Power Up, whilst at the same time I witness and continually hear about the ongoing struggles of Black executives and Black music creatives trying to cut through in the industry, I both applaud the existence and success of Power Up and remain super aware of the ongoing necessity for Power Up to exist. Three years on, I remain steadfast in my support of Power Up as I've seen the results of it and continue to be wowed by the talented individuals who come through the programme; this growing alumni will be the ones to create the newer, more equitable landscape and infrastructure in the music industry.
“By its very existence, Power Up continues to answer the call to action of Black Out Tuesday and the black squares of 2020, we at the BMC continue to support this aim and all the brilliant participants!”
Paul Redding, CEO, Beggars Group, said: “The results over the first two years speak for themselves We look forward to welcoming the third cohort to the programme and continue to support this important initiative as we seek to deliver meaningful industry change.”
Power Up is managed by PRS Foundation in partnership with YouTube Music, Beggars Group, Spotify and the Black Music Coalition. The initiative brings together several music industry partners across all sectors, with supporters including Creative Scotland, Believe, Simkins, Creative Wales, Arts Council of Wales, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, plus AIM, the BPI, the FAC, the Ivors Academy, the MMF, the MPA, MPG, The Musicians’ Union, PPL, PRS for Music and the PRS Members’ Fund, as well as associate partner Daft Springer.
More than 80 Black music executives and creators came together to contribute and set the direction for Power Up. An Executive Steering Group (ESC) was established in late 2020 featuring some of the most influential Black professionals in the UK music industry.
Alongside the ESC, seven focus groups covering Recording and Publishing, Live, Platforms, Gender, Sexuality, Enterprise and Regionality explored the barriers Black music creators and professionals have experienced across the sector and how they could be addressed.