BBC Music Sound Of 2016 longlist of new talent announced

The BBC Music Sound Of 2016 reflects a diverse range of new music acts, voted for by industry experts and annually compiled by BBC News, to highlight exciting new talent for the coming year.

BBC Radio 1 and 2 are in a unique position to be able to do more than other stations to discover and provide a national platform for new talent, and have supported all of the acts in this year’s list. This is through initiatives such as BBC Introducing shows and festivals as well as inclusion on their varied playlists.

Around 140 influential music industry experts including DJs, critics, broadcasters and bloggers were asked to name their top three favourite new acts from any musical genre. The top 15, which this year includes Alessia Cara, Blossoms, Frances, Jack Garratt, Izzy Bizu, and Section Boyz are announced today.

The top five will be revealed in January on BBC Radio 1, counting down one each day from Monday 4 January with the BBC Music Sound Of 2016 winner announced on Friday 8 January.

The list was started in 2003 and has a history of predicting the acts that will make it big. Last year’s winner was British soulful synth-pop trio Years & Years, who have since gone on to obtain the number one spot in both the single and album charts in the UK. Other previous winners include Sam Smith, HAIM, Ellie Goulding and Adele.

Once again the list boasts a diverse range of talent, such as Alessia Cara, the Canadian singer/songwriter described as a ‘new breed of pop star’, Dua Lipa the singer with a deep, smoky voice and rhythmic flow, J Hus who has shaken up the UK rap scene with his infectious hybrid of road rap and afro-beats, and Loyle Carner thought to be ‘Britain’s most recent new hope in hip hop’.

Several artists on the list have been supported early in their careers by BBC Introducing, including 16-year-old singer Billie Marten. Her track ‘Unaware’ was added to the BBC Introducing playlist last year and the follow-up Heavy Weather was supported by several Radio 1 DJs. Blossoms, a five-piece band from Stockport, represented BBC Introducing at this year’s SXSW Festival, and 21-year-old piano-playing singer/songwriter Frances covered Justin Bieber’s What Do You Mean? in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. Izzy Bizu, whose music is a fusion of soul, jazz and pop, performed her single Diamonds in session for BBC Introducing this August.

The artist-producer and multi-instrumentalist Jack Garratt, has been supported by BBC Introducing throughout his career and brought down the house at Radio 1’s Future Festival in January. His first release, the limited edition Remnants EP, married distinct elements of electronica with classic guitar-fronted song-writing. He sold out a UK tour this year and is currently supporting Mumford & Sons on their UK tour dates.
Singer, song-writer and producer, Nao’s single ‘Inhale/Exhale’ was BBC Introducing’s track of the week and she also performed on the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury this year. Her unique vocal skill led Disclosure and Mura Masa asking for sessions and resulted in the collaboration “Firefly” with Mura Masa, which was also playlisted at Radio 1.

The electronic music producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Mura Masa, real name Alex Crossan is also on this year’s list. He started his career by posting a mixtape called Soundtrack to a Death on SoundCloud in 2014. His track ‘Lovesick’ reached number 1 on the Spotify viral charts in the UK and USA and in April this year he broadcast a 60-minute mix on the BBC Radio 1 and 1XTRA show Diplo and Friends.

Other artists on this year’s list include rapper Rat Boy, who paints a lyrical dissertation of suburban Britain, Section Boyz the award-winning rap group from South London, WSTRN, the musical collective made-up of two rappers and a singer, as well as 19-year-old singer-songwriter Mabel, who had her first radio interview with Annie Mac this year.

The Sound Of 2016 long list in alphabetical order:

  • Alessia Cara
  • Billie Marten
  • Blossoms
  • Dua Lipa
  • Frances
  • Izzy Bizu
  • Jack Garratt
  • J Hus
  • Loyle Carner
  • Mabel
  • Mura Masa
  • NAO
  • Rat Boy
  • Section Boyz
  • WSTRN

BBC Radio 1 DJ’s Huw Stephens and Annie Mac will announce the top five acts, counting down to the winner, live on the Radio 1 Breakfast show each morning. The top five acts will be announced each morning from 4 January and simultaneously on the BBC News website and Sound Of 2016 website.

Annie says: “BBC Sound Of is a definitive list of the key artists to look out for and listen to in 2016. It has real results; incredible success stories and I'm looking forward to being able to support these people on my radio shows.”

George Ergatoudis, Head of Music, BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, says: “This year’s list features another fascinating and diverse array of talented artists, many of whom will become part of the British public’s soundtrack over the coming year, just as previous winners Sam Smith, Adele, Ellie Goulding and Jessie J did before them. The BBC is in a unique position to be able to find and nurture exciting new talent; nowhere else has done more to support new and UK music over the last 50 years. We are proud to say that approximately two-thirds of the music on BBC Radio 1 in any given week is new music and all of the acts on this year's long list have enjoyed early support from our presenters. I look forward to watching their success unfold further over the coming months."

Bob Shennan, Director of BBC Music says: “The BBC’s commitment to developing new talent goes to the very heart of our public service purpose. BBC Music Sound Of is an increasingly important way that music lovers can make sure they are across the exciting artists of the future.”

Mark Adams, Music Director at The Box Plus Network was among the influential music expert who cast their votes for this year’s list. Mark said: “2016 feels like it’s going to be an awesome year for emerging talent and it’s great to be asked to cast my vote along with other well-known tastemakers. In a climate where new music is becoming increasingly hard to ‘break’ the BBC Music Sound Of 2016 is an important list which helps to surface the truly exciting artists for the coming year”.

A range of music, video, interviews and biographies from each of the Top 15 acts can also be seen on the BBC Music Sound Of 2016 website.

Twitter users can tweet about the list using the hashtag #SoundOf2016

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