Drake YolanDa Award

Winners of the 2021 Drake YolanDa Award for emerging young musicians announced

Winners: Rosie Frater-Taylor, Martha Hill, Colectiva, Maz O’Connor, Chibundu Onuzo, Lucy May Walker, Ife Ogunjobi, BEKA, Emma Rawicz, Manik MC

London, 4th November 2021

The Drake YolanDa Award has announced the winners of its 2021 prize, to be celebrated at an award ceremony taking place at North London’s Roundhouse Studio Theatre on 6th November, where all recipients of the prize will perform.
Welcoming artists from all backgrounds and musical genres ranging between ages 16-30, the music prize was founded in 2019 by the two time MOBO winner and broadcaster YolanDa Brown and the philanthropist James JP Drake, to support the careers of young artists by providing financial support to spend on touring, marketing, recording or other ways to further their careers. 
The 10 winners of the 2021 award were selected from over 600 entries by an industry panel including Paul McNamee, Editor of The Big Issue;  Adam Sherwin, music journalist at The i newspaper; the publisher, manager and PR Paulette Long OBE, award winning musician Lemar and chaired by YolanDa Brown. A total sum of £35,000 was awarded to 10 emerging artists working across music genres ranging from hip hop to funk, folk, country, jazz and indie, receiving £3,000 each, with 10 runners up also receiving £500 each
The exciting list of winners are all promising artists at different stages of their careers, varying from self-produced musicians cutting their first record, to artists on the rise that have achieved a range of other accolades. Please see the full list of winners below. 
YolanDa Brown, co-founder of Drake YolanDa Award: “The 2020 award could not go ahead due to the global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. As an industry, we are starting to see that the combination of covid 19 and Brexit has created significant damage to the gig economy for emerging artists. Their income has been affected due to live music venues being closed, the complexities of touring in Europe post Brexit and many other complications. It is with this responsibility to continue supporting emerging artists, that the Drake YolanDa Award pressed on with urgency for the 2021 award, another mind blowing collective of eclectic talent, pushing the boundaries within their individual genres and already building momentum with their careers in music.”

With up and coming artists facing a myriad of challenges to their careers of late, not least due to new restrictions as a result of Brexit, The Drake YolanDa Award is a vital addition to UK’s music prize circuit and has proved to be a success story as a launch pad for new talent.

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The winners for the 2021 Drake YolanDa Award are:


Emma Rawicz is a young saxophonist and composer, already making waves on the UK music scene. At the age of 19 she has already recorded her eagerly awaited debut album featuring Ant Law, made up entirely of her original compositions, due to be released in early 2022. She has also already created a name for herself both as a bandleader and a sideman. A new arrival on the scene, she has already made an impact, regularly playing at multiple major jazz venues including Ronnie Scott’s and Pizza Express with a wide range of established musicians.




20 year-old songwriter, guitarist, ukuleleist, vocalist Rosie Frater-Taylor is credited as ‘One To Watch’ by Jazzwise Magazine. Her self-produced debut album On My Mind has been described as “a delicious jazz-folk amalgam” (Jazzwise, Taking Off) and been hitting the airwaves on Jazz FM, BBC Radio London, Radio 3, 6 Music & BBC Introducing. On My Mind has garnered much praise from, among others, Ian Shaw “superb, surprising & highly enjoyable”, Tom Robinson (6 Music) “genuinely exceptional” and US songstress Becca Stevens “so good”. Artist Declan Mckenna describes Frater-Taylor’s sound as “complex, jazzy, delicate” and guitar icon Jimmy Page praises her connection with the guitar. Combining her intimate voice with “hot Benson-esque guitar/ vocal scatting”, Rosie brings her distinctive blend of jazz & folk to life alongside her superb live band having performed shows at: EFG London Jazz Festival 2019 at Union Chapel (Daylight Music), Pizza Express Live, Omnibus Theatre, Hoxton Hall, Kansas Smitty’s, Lillehammer Jazz Festival Norway & Germany tour including ‘B Flat’ Berlin among others. Rosie is currently on the four-year jazz degree course at London’s Royal Academy of Music whilst writing & recording her second album, performing headline full band/ solo shows & promoting her current album.




Northern musician Martha Hill left her coastal Scottish home aged 17 to busk her way around Europe before settling down in Newcastle and throwing herself into the UK music scene. Newcastle based musician Martha Hill writes left-field pop that is both hard-hitting and catchy as hell. An energy of husky vocals and melodic hooks, her introspective storytelling delivers socially conscious themes over a backdrop of guitars, cellos and synths, thriving in reinvention and fusion. After being tipped as one of BBC Introducing’s “ones to watch”, followed by a feature on Jools Holland, Martha Hill is one of the most exciting upcoming artists of 2020. Funded by the coveted PRS’s Women Make Music Fund, and also a Rebalance finalist, Hill released her debut EP “Be Still” in October 2019 which received support from BBC 6music, BBC Introducing, Amazing Radio and Spotify Playlists (amongst others). It’s amazing what you can achieve when you carve your own path in life, and Martha Hill’s journey is only just beginning.




Manik first began releasing songs on Soundcloud and Youtube, as well as competing and performing in poetry SLAMS. Through that he met Loyle Carner, who invited me to support his UK tour for his debut album Yesterday’s Gone. He released my first EP, ‘Midnight Express’, in September 2017, which has since gone on to amass over 3m streams on Spotify. Since then he has supported Klashnekoff, Jam Baxter, Barney Artist, Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn, Planet Asia, Yellow Days, Laurel and Jehst on their tours. This was followed by an appearance on SBTV’s ‘Warm Up Sessions’ series. The platform COLORS invited Manik to perform ‘Muckiest’ from his debut EP. Manik has just finished his sophomore EP ‘Concrete Clouds’, featuring Natty Wylah and Maverick Sabre, amongst others.




BEKA is a Nottingham born singer and songwriter who in her early years was raised with the sounds of Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and Sounds Of Blackness. Making up one half of Tribal Pop duo These Your Children, BEKA has had success in recent years with multiple music releases, sold out headline shows and touring with various artists including JP Cooper, Jake Isaac, Joel Baker and Luke Sital-Singh. BEKA’s first solo release Crying Over You ◐ comes as a feature with the Electro R&B duo HONNE and BTS member RM. 2022 comes with the promise of new music from BEKA.




Colectiva is a nine-piece ensemble exploring the spaces between Afro-Latin music and jazz while reflecting on themes of sisterhood and female empowerment. Rooted in the sounds of Africa, Latin America and the diaspora, the group’s thoughtful and punchy arrangements are affectionately dubbed ‘jazz tropicaliente’ (hot-tropical-jazz). Released in collaboration with pianist Maria Grapsa, the group’s debut single ‘Under The’ on Movimientos captures the essence of their shared creative practice and has received support from the likes of Huey Morgan and Jamz Supernova on BBC Radio 6 Music, Jazz FM’s Chris Philips and Tim Garcia, and Toshiro Matsuura and Papaoul on Worldwide FM. Winners of the UK Latin Awards ‘Best Alternative Act 2019’, Colectiva are set to step into their power in 2021, with two more singles planned, infused with the spirit of feminist activism.




Born in 1991, Chibundu Onuzo grew up in Lagos, moved to the UK in 2005 and signed her first book deal at nineteen. Published in 2012 by Faber, Chibundu’s first novel THE SPIDER KING’S DAUGHTER, has won the Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize. In June 2018 Chibundu was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, as part of its “40 Under 40” initiative. In the same year, she was awarded a PhD in History from King’s College London for her research on the West African Students’ Union. In 2018, Chibundu performed her musical literary show, 1991, in front of a sold-out audience at the Southbank Centre. In 2020, “Dolapo is Fine,” a short film which Onuzo co-wrote, co-produced and composed the film score for, won the 2020 American Black Film Festival’s HBO Short Film Competition and was longlisted for a BAFTA in 2021. Published in 2021 by Virago and Catapult, Onuzo’s most recent novel, SANKOFA, has already been selected by Reese Witherspoon as her bookclub pick for October. Her music is about to explode just like her literary career.




London raised trumpeter and composer, Ife Ogunjobi is a rising star in the London Jazz scene. Raised in a Nigerian household as well as growing up in South East London, his surroundings have enriched his music with various genres such as Jazz, Afrobeat, Grime and Hip-hop. His musical concept removes the barriers between the different genres of music and portrays an authentic London sound. A vital contributor to the London Jazz scene, Ife’s live and studio collaborations have been critically acclaimed whether its touring worldwide on stages such as Glastonbury’s West Holts Stage with Ezra Collective or Joe Armon Jones, to being featured on Moses Boyd’s Mercury Music Prize shortlisted Album “Dark Matter”. To recent collaborations with Yazmin Lacey and Ezra Collective as part of Blue Note Records’ “Reimagined” Album as well as working with Afrobeat producer Juls on his album “Colour” and NSG on their mixtape “Roots”. Ife’s solo project has also gained recognition through sell out performances in Brighton and multiple sell out shows in London including venues such as the Jazz Cafe as well as Appleton Rum’s Jazz Sessions curated by award winning DJ Giles Peterson.




‘Maz O’Connor’s ace, apart from her remarkable songwriting talent, is her captivating voice ****’ Q

As a teenager, Maz o’Connor learned the songs of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell on her first guitar. After university, where she studied literature, she moved to London, was awarded a BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellowship, and released her first album, ‘This Willowed Light’. She has since released 2 albums and an EP and received play across BBC radio, from Radio 4 to 6music, with live sessions on Radio 2 and 3 along the way. She was described by The Observer as ‘the perfect mix of youthfulness and gravitas.’ ‘I’m interested in connection,’ she says. ‘Where we find it, and how we lose it. All music, to me, is a question: this is how it feels, right?’ O’Connor’s songs are short stories wrapped in a unique soundscape. Often inspired by literature, folklore and mythology, they combine acoustic instruments, folk imagery, electronic soundscapes and, of course, O’Connor’s ethereal vocals. A millennial meeting of Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush, heartbreak, longing, and a taste for irony remain constant touchstones. Her new album, co-written and co-produced with composer Will Gardner, is an ambitious song-cycle set in the city at night. It explores themes of anxiety, isolation, inequality, capitalism, insomnia, regret, sexuality, spirituality, absent friends, and the search for redemption in an age of consumerism. The album is due for release in May 2022.




Lucy May Walker is a folk/pop Singer/Songwriter from Worcestershire, now based in London. In 2018, she was discovered busking in London by Jeremy Vine, who invited her to play a live session on his BBC Radio 2 show which was listened to by over 7 million people. This lead onto her debut TV performance on his Channel 5 TV Talk show the following year and going on tour with Wet Wet Wet. In 2020, Lucy May released her second EP ‘Bad Day’ with help from a successful Kickstarter Campaign & she performed the title track on BBC Radio 5 Live for Jamie Cullum & Scott Mills. Most recently, three of Lucy’s original songs were featured on ITV’s Love Island which boosted her already impressive Spotify streams to almost a million.







For some, world-wide touring and a hit album would be satisfaction enough. Not for YolanDa Brown who has garnered praise for her delicious fusion of reggae, jazz and soul. YolanDa has worked with The Temptations, Diana Krall, Billy Ocean and Jools Holland who she features on his new album to be released in 2021.

She is currently composing music for the iconic Sesame Street and an animated series called Bea’s Block due for release in 2023. A champion for the importance of music education, YolanDa is Chair of Youth Music (one of the largest music education charities in the UK). She graduated with a first class degree in Operations management from the University of Kent, followed by 2 Masters Degrees and studied a PhD for four years, before taking a hiatus from her thesis to pursue her music career. Brown was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts by the University of East London.

In 2021, she was invited by the Government and the Department of Education to advise on the National Plan for Music Education.

A broadcaster too – working across TV and Radio, including her eponymous series for CBeebies, “YolanDa’s Band Jam”, which recently won the Royal Television Society Awards as Best Children’s Programme. On BBC Radio 4, she co presents Loose Ends with Clive Anderson and covers for Trevor Nelson and Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio 2 and presents “YolanDa Brown on Saturday” on Jazz FM.


James JP Drake is the Founder and Chairman of The Drake Foundation, which was created around his mission to understand and improve the long-term health consequences of a career in sport for professional athletes. In the Foundation’s first 5 years, well over £2 million has been invested into scientific research and resources to support sport, science and the wider society.

He is also Founder and Chairman of Future Science Group, a scientific publishing house focusing on breakthrough medical, biotechnological and scientific research. Alongside his publishing group, he has founded a collection of philanthropic foundations spanning sport, science, art, literature and music. The first of these was The Drake Foundation.

In 2015, James established The Drake Calleja Trust with renowned tenor Joseph Calleja, to support exceptional musicians from underprivileged backgrounds at the start of their careers. The Trust has since been expanded to support both classical and non-classical musicians, producers and songwriters, with saxophonist YolanDa Brown heading up the Drake YolanDa Award for non-classical musicians.

As well as being a keen amateur artist, James is also the Founder of a number of art and literature projects. For example, his team – on behalf of the artist’s family – are currently creating a database and catalogue raisonné for the great Rodin contemporary Paul Troubetzkoy.

James recently began a role as honorary science publishing advisor to the Blair Partnership, the literary agent of JK Rowling and many others from debut and established writers to broader talent across business, politics, sport and lifestyle.


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Drake YolanDa Award

The Drake YolanDa Award has been created by James JP Drake and YolanDa Brown, to support emerging artists across the UK on their musical journey.