Limehouse is largely a working-class district in the East of London. Housing one of the last surviving derelict Georgian terraces on Narrow Street; The Grapes pub; murky river waters and ageing narrow boats show this area has a lot of history. It is fitting for the first ever televised Unsigned Music Awards to be held here, adding more history.

A long time ago, being recognised for your musical talents on a national and global scale were mostly restricted to those lucky enough to gain contracts with record labels that had the support and funding to back them, making the music industry an incredibly tough nut to crack. Since the dawn of the Internet and entertainment shows such as The X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent though, the potential audience has broadened significantly. What has emerged is the rightly- so realisation that there is a plethora of extraordinary talent and the barriers to their recognition are slowly disappearing.

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Alex Francis performing live at the Unsigned Music Awards 2016 – Photo Credit: Eric Duvet Photography

The Unsigned Music Awards is an unprecedented event, which started as an idea by the creators Simon O’Kelly, Georgina Thomas and Ben Connor, and developed into something that has begun to level out the playing field for unsigned artists.Troxy theatre has been preserved well over the years, the grade II art deco building looks as aged as the other buildings. It’s design is beautiful and intricate. It has high ceilings which generate an open, welcoming and spacious atmosphere. It also looks glorious in the dim lighting. The carpets and seating in the upper circle look outdated but is hardly noticeable and more attention is paid to the glamorous attendees walking around with beverages in beautiful dresses and smart attire.

With a community spirit, true appreciation for the unsigned talent was felt strongly amongst everyone as nominees, families, friends and new music fans took their seats to get ready for the night.

Due to start at 8pm, the hosts didn’t make their appearance until 9. With an hour less to spare, the pacing of the show increased a little bit. Nonetheless, it didn’t take any credit from the evening, as the showcasing of unknown talent more than made up for it. Starting off with the first live performance was SKIES with their song ‘Drone’ filling the air with emo runk-rock spirit. Other acts, Alex Francis, AKS, Chasing Cadence and Hunter & The Bear also played in between the announcement of winners and were loved by the crowd.

The truly natural star-quality of some of the artists begged the question, why are these guys are not already signed? If they aren’t now, with the commendation from the UMA’s they will surely be chased to sign the dotted line soon.

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Winners : Broken Witt Rebels

Laura Whitmore and Christ Stark made quite a good presenter coupling and provided a few laughs. At one point everyone expected musician Sia to present the next nominees but were fooled by Stark wearing a blonde and brown bobbed wig.  They both interacted with the audiences well though.The night was really about the unsigned talent anyway, so the organisers could be forgiven for choosing mediocre hosts. In particular, the artists already gaining much recognition within the industry and highlights of the evening were: Elle Exxe, winner of Best Female Solo Act, and is “destined to take world domination” as quoted by the presenter Chris Stark. Broken Witt Rebels, winner of Best Rock Act and look to be huge; Norwhich artist, Mullally, winner of Best Male Act and Dani Sylvia, winner of Best Song Writer.

Elle Exxe, Dani Sylvia and Broken Witt Rebels also played live and their performances were spectacular, justifying the judge’s decisions. They proved that although semantically the words signed and unsigned have clear differential meanings, they have absolutely no difference in terms of talent. 

Images of the nominees performing in front of hundreds at festivals such as Glastonbury and Reading show just how good they are and their potential for further success. The crowds were in agreement too, as they loudly cheered and applauded.

 With such warm and exciting atmosphere, it was a sincerely pleasant night. Beautiful speeches from the sponsors and important organizations involved in the event added sentimentality and warmth to the evening, reflecting true appreciation and recognition to unsigned talent throughout the world. It will be exciting to see this event grow more popular over the years and hope it garners massive changes for the unknown talent. Those who won and performed will likely see their musical careers move forward very quickly from now on – and justly so.14572383_1809904499286672_4948286983849513945_n

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