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Ayanna Witter-Johnson facing, holding a cello

True North festival rises up for Aberdeen with weekend of live music

NEWS – 27 Sep 2021

True North festival rises up for Aberdeen with weekend of live music

News – 27 Sep 2021

Aberdeen Performing Arts’ award-winning music festival, True North was wrapped up last night with a stunning celebration of the music of Stevie Wonder from Grammy award-winning superstar Corinne Bailey Rae along with a host of amazing musicians and singers at the Music Hall.

The one-off concert was the culmination of a weekend of live music across the city which saw 65 acts and artists playing across eight venues over four days, with highlights including American singer-songwriter John Grant, Aberdeen’s own Ransom FA and the soulful, eclectic Ayanna Witter-Johnson.

A special spoken word event led by award-winning poet Jo Gilbert focussed on the festival’s theme of Rise Up, and Fringe events entertained throughout the city centre.

Aberdeen Performing Arts Director of Programming and Creative Projects, Ben Torrie, said:

“What an amazing weekend of live events. We set out to celebrate the re-opening of our venues, the return of live events and the life it can breathe into the city and from the reaction from our audiences, artists and staff we certainly achieved that!

“As the first large music festival held in Aberdeen since the pandemic, we saw this is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate what the Aberdeen music scene has to offer, and also the ability of the city to draw amazing talent from across the UK and worldwide to perform for our audiences.

“True North has always been about giving a platform to new talent and celebrating those who inspire the artists of the future, and with our Rise Up theme this year we are celebrating freedom of expression, diversity and community, and the power of music to really drive these things forward.

“Thank you to everyone who came along to any of our performances, we could not be prouder of the festival and we are already looking forward to next year!”

The festival kicked off on Thursday, September 23 with a headline set from Peaness who set the feel-good tone with their unique, fun, pop sounds, with support from rising stars Swim School and Lavender Lane. A lively crowd were entertained by the band’s catchy tunes and onstage dynamic that was the perfect way for the first major festival to return to the city following the pandemic.

On Friday night the hugely talented Ayanna Witter-Johnson gave a mesmerising performance at the Lemon Tree, supported by Heir of the Cursed and local star Katie Mackie.

Saturday opened with a series of acoustic gigs across the city before the highly-anticipated Saturday headliner John Grant brought his intricate combination of electro beats and intimate piano tunes to the Music Hall on Saturday night and did not disappoint. The evening opened with a wonderful set from Scotland’s Rachel Sermanni before the headline act delighted the audience with a set that had the audience hushed one moment and on their feet dancing the next.

The final headline act on Saturday night delivered a late-night set and the first hip hop night in the festival’s history headlined by Aberdeen’s own Ransom FA. Sean Focus and BEMZ warmed the crowd up nicely ahead before the party started and the crowd danced late into the night to round up a memorable day.

The True North Festival Fringe started off the Sunday with a second day of free acoustic concerts ahead of a spoken word event led by acclaimed poet Jo Gilbert called Rise Up Aberdeen. Jo was joined by another three writers and poets who were commissioned to write pieces around the theme of Rise Up.

The best was saved for last with a truly stunning set by Corinne Bailey Rae and she they celebrated the music of Stevie Wonder at the Music Hall. With special guests Little Acres, Paix, Angus Munro and Jalen N’Gonda, audiences were treated to the classic hits such as Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Sir Duke, a selection of Corinne Bailey Rae’s biggest hits before a rousing, extended version of Superstition sent the crowd home happy.

True North