Musical Highlights of 2021

Go Back

Despite entering the year in uncertain circumstances, one thing has remained consistently clear: music, in its many shapes and forms, brings us all joy! So the team at Brighter Sound have all reflected on some of our musical highlights that we’ll remember fondly when thinking back to 2021…

Musical Highlights of 2021
1st January 2022

Despite entering the year in uncertain circumstances, one thing has remained consistently clear: music, in its many shapes and forms, brings us all joy! So the team at Brighter Sound have all reflected on some of our musical highlights that we’ll remember fondly when thinking back to 2021…

Despite entering the year in uncertain circumstances, music, in its many shapes and forms, has continued to bring us all joy! So the team at Brighter Sound have all reflected on some of our musical highlights that we’ll remember fondly when thinking back to 2021…

Joe, Marketing & Communications Officer

This year I was introduced to Bruno Pernadas, Portuguese musician, composer, arranger and producer. Specifically his latest album Private Reasons. It’s a globetrotting, genre-exploring masterpiece, and one of the most beautiful and exciting musical journeys you can go on in 75 minutes. Hands down the best album of 2021. There, I said it. 

Also, this year Brighter Sound went through a rebrand. And in my (clearly unbiased) opinion, it looks fantastic! More on that in the new year though…that’s music related, right?

Andrea, Company Co-Ordinator

So my first musical highlight of 2021 is my own set at We Out Here Festival in August with Eves’Drop DJ Collective, set up to promote female DJs, particularly from different ethnicities to break down preconceptions and barriers to music in today’s society. It was my first time playing at a festival after lockdown. The tent was packed!

My second highlight has to be seeing Little Simz at the Albert Hall in December. The love that was emanating from the crowd for her was immense!

Gareth, Head of Operations & Finance

My highlight from Brighter Sound’s activity is definitely the Get Started With Music project. So many of the group felt disconnected during lockdown, both socially and creatively. It was really emotional hearing their stories, and seeing how they were able to connect with people they’d never met in person before was inspiring. The music was brilliant, and the project was a real reminder of the power of our work.

My personal highlight – after getting a record player for my birthday – was getting some new vinyl from my birthday buddy! You cannot beat the harmonies that only the Everly Brothers could produce. Nothing sounds quite like vinyl does, and I can now start revisiting all my old vinyl haunts around the Northern Quarter to reinvigorate my record collection.

Grace, Both Sides Records Label Manager

Launching Both Sides Records in November was a highlight for me as we’ve been working on it behind the scenes for a year now. It’s been amazing to see people responding to us and our ethos, and I’m so excited for 2022 as we start to release new music!

On another note, seeing Laura Marling (my favourite live artist!) at the Albert Hall in Manchester was incredible. Something about her performances really moves me and puts me at complete ease. The Albert Hall is my favourite venue as well!

Lucy, Project Manager

My highlight of this year was A Week With PINS. After having to delay the project for over a year, it felt so incredibly special to be able to bring 15 talented young musicians together. They created 7 new songs, recorded them in a professional studio, took part in music industry workshops and styled themselves for a professional photoshoot…all before performing with PINS to a live audience at The Met on the final day! A joyous event and a transformational week. Keep your eyes (and ears!) peeled for the music in 2022.

Another highlight was returning to gigs! Highlights include Public Service Broadcasting at the O2 and Eliza Shaddad at YES!

Issy, Admin & Operations Officer

Booking tickets to see Alanis Morisette in June has gotta be up there. If I could tell my teenage self that I’d be in the same arena as her then I would probably be lying on the floor in the foetal position, dribbling or something.

I also found Nabihah Iqbal on NTS, she’s just the best. If I’m feeling sluggish or need a boost then I listen to her mix from 28th July 2020 and it’s guaranteed to put you in a good mood.

Then an honourable mention has to go to getting KK Slider to perform on my island! If this means nothing to you then, in a nutshell, this is one of the levels on Animal Crossing, which gives you a massive indication of how much of a nerd I am 🤓

Rebecca, Head of Marketing & Communications

My musical highlight of 2022 was going to my favourite music festival, Green Man. It felt amazing to be back in the Black Mountains watching live music again. A highlight was seeing the band Do Nothing headline the Rising Stage on Saturday night, and singing (screaming!) along to the opening line of their final song Gangs – “We’re all back together at last!” – with hundreds of other fans.  

This year I’ve also really enjoyed using Bandcamp. The pandemic made me rethink my Spotify habit, and want to do more to directly support artists. Their artist-first business model is great, and there’s loads of ways to discover new music too. This year my Brighter Sound teammates bought me Bandcamp vouchers for my birthday, so my collection is coming along nicely!

Kate, Head of Programmes

We’ve enjoyed so many live and online projects and events that it’s hard to pick a couple of highlights; but a really special weekend for me was our Bruntwood Stages takeover at Exchange Square and Homeground. On a very sunny ‘Glastonbury’ weekend at the end of June we were delighted to celebrate a ‘return to live’ with some of the North’s most exciting artists

Also the development of our Both Sides Now Leadership programme has been a huge learning experience. It’s been fascinating to explore the role of values, change-making and community in the context of developing an authentic leadership identity in our Leaders Network. It’s been brilliant to watch a series of early business start-up ideas emerge into fully formed actions and plans in the Business Accelerator programme. And finally, it’s been amazing to partner with some incredible hosts (labels, festivals, venues and management companies) to provide development opportunities for future industry leaders. Here’s to that future!

Kinaya, Projects & Events Assistant

First up, Promises, the third studio album from Floating Points featuring the London Symphony Orchestra and Pharoah Sanders. Incredible album! 

Then me and a few others at Brighter Sound attended SPOT Festival in Aarhus this year. There was a real post-lockdown excitement, and I met some lovely people. Also, the cultural centre Institut for (X) is freaking cool!

Debra, Director

Earlier in the year me and a group of Manchester’s own producers and artists attended WOMEX 2021 as part of WOMEXchange, a programme supported by Manchester Music City and the British Council. We networked, we collaborated and we saw some incredible music. My musical highlight has to be PONGO’s show. She was just fabulous!

Tosin, Both Sides Records Comms Officer

One of the main highlights of this year would definitely be the Easter project my gospel collective Voices Beyond did back in April, a virtual performance of ‘Lord I Lift Your Name’.

Then personally I’ve loved Yebba’s debut album Dawn, especially this tiny desk performance.

Bella, Both Sides Records Admin Assistant

A significant highlight of my year would be starting a new job working at Both Sides Records, and getting the opportunity to work alongside like-minded people who share the same values as me. I’ve always wanted to build a platform that encourages women to have confidence in such a male-dominated industry. Being a part of that revolution from behind the scenes is a really proud moment for me.

Also, seeing the music industry come back to life after such a challenging year is a massive highlight of 2021. Being able to support people in the local scene and seeing people play live music and spread joy through their music feels really special to me and is something I would never want to miss out on again.