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On Thursday, 19th October, the London College of Contemporary Music, (LCCM) hosted the second Mathew Knowles Scholarship competition at its Music Box venue.

The GRAMMY-Award winning US music executive and mastermind behind the success of Destiny’s Child and his daughters Beyoncé and Solange oversaw performances alongside Michael Kiladejo, Head of Europe and Africa, Music World Entertainment, and Lashawna Stewart, A&R Manager at Columbia Records UK.

More than a hundred musicians entered the competition, looking to emulate lasts year’s winner Felix Clarke. This was then filtered down to 7 semi-finalists before a final 5, with composer and pianist anMari (Anna Prasek, from Poland) taking the prize, saying that “no words can express how grateful I am for this incredible moment.” The third person to play in the final, she wowed the judges and audience with her blend of neo-classical prepared piano and pop songwriting, performing barefoot. Mathew Knowles commented that her music matched her image and that she had done “a wonderful job.”

Multi-instrumentalist, Rion-Jensen Brown opened the evening, playing a beautiful solo guitar and vocal version of the Bill Withers classic Just The Two Of Us. Dr Knowles told the audience that it is difficult to be the first person in the competition and talked about the importance of the artist’s look matching the song.

The second finalist, Oliver Raiss, known as Ricey, an orchestral producer (who already has a record deal), was a real favourite in the Music Box with his Hans Zimmer-esque number, which the judges felt had a real dance feel. Given the roaring crowd response on the evening, Dr Knowles said that he formulates his opinions from the audience, but joked there was too much dry ice during the piece and that Ricey was too tall!

Producer and composer Isabella Millicheap, the fourth contestant, said that she worked through an organic progress in making music, to be powerful and confident. Dr Knowles was impressed with Isabella and called for more female producers.

The final act, from North West London rapper Todd Allison, known as Razor, said that his music was heart felt and authentic. The judges liked his energy and involvement but felt that he could have worked longer rehearsing his song, Rainy Days.

After the artists had all played, the judges whittled them down to the last three and made their decision, naming Isabella Millicheap the runner up and anMari the winner. Dr Knowles said that the scholarship was a major opportunity and that there were no real losers, whilst making a heartfelt and inspiration call for improved equity and diversity in the music industry. He also highlighted the importance of practice and hard work with personal anecdotes gleamed from his late friend Kobe Bryant as well as Beyoncé’s rehearsal routines. A special mention went to LCCM’s JD Donovan, Creative Industries Liaison for his Dermot O’Leary-style hosting of the ceremony.

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