Who are the headliners at this year’s Meraki Festival?
- Credit: Archant
- Credit: Archant
Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley is the first headliner of the Meraki Festival and will be playing on the Friday.
As a child Tony attended Dame Alice Owens’s Grammar School in Potters Bar and has since become one of Britain’s most renowned pop vocalists. Spandau Ballet was formed in 1976 with Gary Kemp, Steve Norman, John Keeble, Michael Ellison, and of course Tony. The band has topped the charts many times with hit singles like Gold, Through the Barricades, and the international number one True. The band Spandau Ballet eventually disbanded in 1989, but later reformed in 2009, with Tony remaining in their ranks until earlier this year.
In the post-Ballet years, Tony launched a successful solo career. He released his first solo album ‘The State of Play’ in 1992 and has collaborated with various DJ’s including Tin Tin Out and Eddie Lock and performed alongside artists such as Brian May, Paul Young and Alice Cooper. In 2000, he released a greatest hits album entitled Debut, which is a compilation of his early solo singles.
More recently, Tony took part in the 2015 series of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
As one of Britain’s favourite Aussie ex-pats, Jason Donovan is another one of the Meraki Festival’s Friday headliners. Jason has stolen the hearts of many since the 1980s where he shot to fame as a TV soap star in Neighbours.
With his teen heart-throb phase over, Jason became one of the most successful singers in British history, selling more than 13 million albums worldwide and having four UK number ones.
Jason’s first number one single was a duet with Kylie Minogue,‘Especially for You, released in 1988. The next year his debut album, Ten Good Reasons, became one of the highest-selling albums of that year. Jason continued to top the charts with singles like Too Many Broken Hearts and‘Sealed with a Kiss. Additionally he has also enjoyed a successful theatre career, most famously portraying Joseph in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium in 1991.
In 2010, Jason released his fifth studio album Soundtrack of The 80s, which was his own tribute to the music of the decade. The album included cover versions of hits such as Drive (The Cars) and Sign Your Name (Terrance Trent D’Arby) among several others. Since 2015, Jason has presented Jason Donovan 80s Rewind on Heart Radio and last year toured the country with his Greatest Hits tour.
The former Go-Go’s singer is a global pop sensation from one of the most successful all-female bands. Belinda hails from Los Angeles, California and has a career spanning over three decades. The Go-Go’s sold over seven million records worldwide and helped usher in a new wave of music into mainstream American radio.
After The Go-Go’s disbanded in 1985, Belinda embarked on a successful solo career. Her début self- titled album, Belinda was released in 1986 which featured the summer hit Mad About You. Some of Belinda’s most memorable songs include‘Leave a Light On, Circle in The Sand and Heaven is a Place on Earth.
In 1999, she released a greatest hits album in the UK, followed by The Go-Go’s reunion in 2001. They released an album of new material called God Bless The Go-Go’s. In 2014, a new greatest hits record entitled The Collection was released containing 18 songs which reached number 24 in the UK albums chart. Since then, Belinda has continued to make more music. Her eighth studio album is to be released in 2017.
The singer and songwriter Sophie Ellis-Bextor is another guest headlining the Meraki Festival on Saturday. First coming to prominence in the 1990s as lead singer of the indie pop band The Audience, Sophie launched a hugely successful solo career in the early 2000s with the double platinum album Read My Lips.
In 1998, Sophie recorded a duet with the Manic Street Preachers called Black Holes For the Young. She has continued to feature on popular dance hits such as Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer) with Freemasons, and her other hits include Murder on the Dancefloor, Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) and Music Gets the Best of Me. In September 2016, she released her sixth studio album Familia and resumed touring in 2017.
Another Saturday headliner is singer, songwriter and record producer Lemar, who has had seven top 10 singles and sold over two millions albums. His rise to fame came after finishing third place in the first series of Fame Academy in 2002, and he later signed a £1 million record deal with Sony. Since, Lemar has achieved international recognition. In November 2004, Lemar released his debut album Time to Grow which featured the number one hit If There’s Any Justice. He has subsequently won two Brit Awards and three MOBO awards.
He has since released more critically acclaimed albums including Dedicated, The Truth about Love and The Reaso’. He was also one of the artists to feature on Band Aid 20’s version of Do They Know It’s Christmas?
In 2012, Lemar returned to the spotlight with the release of his new single Invincible, followed by the release of his latest album The Letter in 2015.
One of Sunday’s leading performers is Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler. The rock legend is one of the most recognisable women in rock and first came to prominence in 1977 following the release of her first album, The World Starts Tonight. Her 1978 single It’s A Heartache reached number four on the UK Singles Chart.
In 1983 Bonnie released her biggest hit, Total Eclipse of The Heart – the lead single from her highly acclaimed album Faster than the Speed of Night. Over the past 50 years, Bonnie has written numerous hits including Holding on For a Hero and Bitterblue. Both It’s A Heartache and Total Eclipse of The Heart are among the best-selling singles of all time, with sales in excess of six million each.
Bonnie has continued to release new music. Her latest album Rocks and Honey came out in 2013 and featured the single Believe in Me, which she also performed at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013 where she represented Great Britain. Her work has earned her three Grammy nominations and three Brit Award nominations.
The soulful songwriter Rebecca Ferguson is originally from Liverpool, and has carved an incredibly successful music career since her stint on The X Factor six years ago. She subsequently signed a record deal with Simon Cowell’s label Syco in the UK, and was later signed to Columbia Records in the US.
Her debut album Heaven was released in December 2011 and she has since sold hundreds of thousands of records around the world. The album featured number one singles including Nothing’s Real But Love and Backtrack. Her second studio album Freedom won her two MOBO nominations. Rebecca’s powerful and soulful voice has been likened to that of Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. Impressively, she has won acclaim from critics and her peers including the likes of Adele.
Last year, Rebecca released her latest album Superwoman, which reached number seven in the UK singles chart and gained her her fourth consecutive Top Ten album.
Natalie Williams’ Soul Family
Hosted by the uber-talented jazz-soul musician Natalie Williams, and her band, Soul Family Sundays, the band offers the chance to reminisce with some quality R&B, jazz and soul jams. With guests that vary from month to month, there is always something different on offer. Each set includes cutting edge material as well as exciting covers of the classics.
Past guests have included an eclectic cast of performers such as the late Amy Winehouse, Jamie Cullum, Emeli Sande, Jamie Woon and Dionne Bromfield. The Soul Family, which is fronted by MOBO nominated Natalie Williams, is joined by a variety of talented artists such as Vula and Sharlene Hector (Basement Jaxx), Brendan Reilly (Disclosure) and Annabel Williams (Ceelo Green).
Top vocal group, Odyssey, are one of the most iconic soul/disco acts of all time. They began topping the charts in the early 1980s with their smash hit Use it Up and Wear It Out, before scoring several UK number one hits. In 1980, the native New Yorkers released the album Hang Together, which included hits like Don’t Tell Me, Tell Her. After having a prosperous career touring the UK and America, Odyssey continue to perform around the world. Lillian Lopez-Collazo Jackson who founded the group, died in September 2013, however, Steven Collazo, continues the family legacy taking their ‘odyssey’ forward and further with an array of talented singers, musicians and producers.
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