Singer Katy B shares secret of success with teen musicians
A BBC One series starting tonight follows 13 young Londonderry boys and girls in pursuit of their musical dreams. By Stephanie Bell
Pop sensation Katy B knows what it is like to be young and talented and dreaming of a career in music. It's why the successful star was happy to make time during what has been a big year for her working on her second album to fly back and forwards to Northern Ireland.
Katy, whose new single 5AM has just stormed the charts, became a frequent visitor to Londonderry this year where she spent time mentoring local kids with musical talent for a new BBC series which launches tonight.
Music City on BBC One will chart the progress of 13 young people from the city as they attempt to make their musical dreams come true.
The young people, who are all part of the Derry-Londonderry UK City Of Culture 2013 Music Promise education project, range from singers and DJs to pianists, drummers and harpists.
Katy B visited each of them in their own homes and spent time listening to their musical talents and using her own experience and expertise to advise them on how best to pursue a career in music.
The flame haired 24-year-old singer-songwriter from London whose full name is Kathleen Anne Brien, became an instant star in 2010 when she launched her first single Katy on a Mission which went to number five in the UK singles chart and number one on the UK indie chart.
A big dance music star she is famous for dubstep, R&B, house and UK garage music.
Her second single Lights On was also released in 2010, and debuted at number four in the charts.
Her debut album On a Mission was released the following year and peaked at number two in the UK album charts.
In the same year the sensational newcomer was nominated for a prestigious Mercury Prize.
Last year she received a rapturous reception from local fans when she performed here for the first time as part of Radio One's Big Weekend in Derry. When invited to return to the city this year to take part in the new BBC series she says she jumped at the chance.
"I didn't have to think twice about it, I really wanted to do it," she says.
"Growing up I was part of different projects and was given different opportunities which really helped to build my confidence as a performer and build my character and so I appreciated how important it would be for the young people.
"It meant flying back and forward to Derry, spending a few days there filming and then going back to London to work on my album.
"It was great because I got to see all the historical sights of the city.
"I went to everyone's homes which was special and I got to hear traditional Irish music and see traditional Irish dancing in the living rooms.
"To be able to share music and experiences is such a wonderful thing. It was an interesting and special time for me."
Katy says she was also impressed by the talents of the young people she worked with and their enthusiasm.
"They were all amazing and really inspiring and such great characters," she adds.
"It was amazing to hear their talent and each one of them was so full of enthusiasm about life and about having the opportunity to perform."
For Katy it also proved a bit of a learning curve as she got to do some TV presenting for the first time: "I enjoyed that part too, it was something different and a bit weird being in a studio talking instead of singing," she says.
Working alongside Katy on the show was Derry-based singer and guitarist Glenn Rosborough and local harpist and music teacher Jenny Grant.
In the first programme tonight, we meet singer and songwriter Hannah (15) who performs to Katy B in her bedroom; singer and multi-instrumentalist Micaela (15), who is set the challenge of performing to an audience of 2,000 people at a City Of Culture event; and singer Eibhin (15), who is given the opportunity of performing with Phil Coulter on his song Brand New Day.
Nerves are tested and friendships are made but will a star be born in Music City?Katy certainly thinks so: "There were great talents among the young people – Hannah had a really lovely voice and Micaela had too.
"I think the girl singers stood out for me."
Katy has announced details of a short UK tour next year and while there is no Northern Ireland date included she promises that she will not disappoint her local fans.
She says: "It's only a short tour starting in March with six dates but I promise I will play in Northern Ireland before the year is out."