RPS Composer 2020 | Commission for the Philharmonia Orchestra, Composers Academy 2020-21
Singer, songwriter, cellist and composer Ayanna Witter-Johnson is a rare exception to the rule that classical and alternative r&b music cannot successfully coexist.
Graduating with a First from both Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and the Manhattan School of Music, Ayanna was a participant in the London Symphony Orchestra’s Panufnik Young Composers Scheme and became an Emerging Artist in Residence at London’s Southbank Centre. She was a featured artist with Courtney Pine’s Afropeans: Jazz Warriors and became the only non-American to win Amateur Night Live at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York.
As a composer she has been commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Güerzenich Orchester, Ligeti Quartet, Kronos Quartet, and the Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company, and as an arranger/orchestrator for the London Symphony Orchestra (Hugh Masekela, Belief!) and the BBC Symphony Orchestra (Urban Classic).
Since releasing her EPs (‘Truthfully’, ‘Black Panther’ & ‘Ella, Reuben & Ay’) and her debut album ‘Road Runner’ via her own record label (Hill and Gully Records) she has worked with producers Marc Mac (4Hero), James Yarde (Terri Walker, Jamelia, Eric Benet) and artists including pianist Robert Mitchell and rapper Akala. Ayanna has extensively toured the UK and several countries in Europe, whilst gaining a MOBO nomination, receiving airplay on stations including BBC Radio 1, 1xtra, 2, 3, 4, 6, BBC London, BBC Manchester, Jazz FM and Scala Radio, TV features on BBC One London News and London Live, and producing three commercial music videos via her YouTube channel.
A performer of extraordinary versatility, her live shows are intimate journeys that chronicle her experience as a female artist in the 21st century. Because of her musical prowess, mesmerising vocals, non-compromising lyrics and ability to deftly reinterpret songs on the cello, Ayanna is able to straddle both the classical and urban worlds effortlessly. She is the definition of eclectic soul.
The commissions we are able to give to the composers on our 2020-21 Composers programme are made possible thanks to RPS Members and support from the Susan Bradshaw Composers' Fund, the Elgar Bursary Fund, The Fidelio Charitable Trust, Garrick Charitable Trust, Presteigne Festival and The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation.