In the first blog, Si painted the picture of where we were back in 2012 and his own artist experience of his first SE gig, but it wasnt the whole story. What Si didnt tell you was how that evening ended and his part in it. I have a burning recollection of that one Sunday evening at Proud Camden (another venue gone) but before I share that you should really know the lead up,
I had never planned to be a music promoter, and I think safe to say I didn't exactly know what being a "music promoter" meant. I still don't feel Im a music promoter really. You see, Success Express was born in Costa East Finchley with Vocal Coach Joshua Alamu (today working with JP Cooper, Rita Ora and Little Mix) over coffee and stories. He shared his dearly held desire to give his time for free to help singers and artists with raw talent get to the next level and Success Express was born. For the first couple of years we ran amazing and completely inspirational workshops and showcases, where young would be artists from 13 years and up rubbed shoulders with more mature guys, all looking to improve their craft and achieve their goals, in a way that was meaningful to them.
Roll on three years, as our young artists grew up (Paulaa, Natalie Good, Brooke Law amongst them) it was the vital next step to help them find more performance opportunities ideally alongside more established emerging artists. Proud Camden loved our Success Express Artist Showcase hosted there (I think that was number #6) and offered us a regular Sunday night. I can tell you now I literally had no clue about promoting so it was genuinely a case of group messaging every musician singer, music teacher etc I knew back in 2012 and asking them "Do we want to do this?" and "How would we do this", plus of course "How does the money work so artists get paid?". We figured out a ticket split plan collectively and again, collectively, we set about the first few Sundays, and spreading the word.
Within a matter of weeks, amazing as it sounds today, there was a little weekly crowd of audience building up, but but my little artist list would dry up quite quickly so I set about looking around for new artists to invite. As I write this, Im proud that the exact same artists I met somehow or another at this time are the ones that still heavily involve themselves with SE.
The nights built up weekly and I remember the Proud Camden manager walking backwards and forwards through our little room to his office nodding and smiling. The difference in standard to the rest of Proud Camden's programme was considerable. The main room with bands was free entry, and ours was a fiver on the door, but every week walk ins would choose to pay the £5 surcharge to sit in our room and enjoy our acts. And why? Because you don't work with the likes of a top industry coach like Josh for years sitting in workshops and understanding what makes a voice and performance unique and then not care about the quality of who you book. I was so passionate and evangelical back then and people seemed to like that, and didn't say no to performing.
So roll on a few months and we reach that particular Sunday evening May that Si wrote about last month. I think we had a guest from the US, and a couple of other solo artists but in all truth all I can remember was a boy and a girl (Si and Hils) quietly arriving with their music gear, sitting on their own at a table with a bottle of wine, and then eventually stepping onto the stage at around 10pm. This quiet, reserved guy proceeded to literally explode on stage, and deliver the most emotional, tense and genuinely inspiring live performance I had ever seen.
His performance brought every single person in that room, at their respective tables, to their feet in unreserved admiration. Si sang"1982" (aka Hurt You), accompanied by Hils to close, and I found myself in tears. As I looked around the room I was not the only one moved. Unique, memorable and completely wonderful, we as an audience were all moved together. I have never forgotten that standing ovation at the end and it remains a treasured memory.
I have seen Si perform many 100's of times since that day but it was a defining moment, and his standing ovation and audience accolade that night is the bar I have since mentally set for being world class. I decided right there and then I wanted to whatever was needed to help gifted credible artists play to not just a few handfuls of people and bring them to their feet, but to the 'greater world' as they rightly deserve.
The contract was formed back then at Proud Camden, and despite a few wobbles I have never ever contemplated doing anything else but to solely and completely focus on achieving that one purpose as Success Express. Some days I think we have done good, mostly I don't think we have made any impact or useful contribution at all, but the genuine love and community hub of audience, creatives and artists we have built from that day to this has remained strong and rewarding an I'm ever hopeful that if we continue with the right clarity and intent, artists can and will break through to that wider, bigger place.