Six strings and heart strings — Secret Sessions 2nd birthday turned out to be a real tear jerker
Saturday 22nd July marked Secret Sessions’ 2nd birthday of Live at The Hospital Club.
We’ve done 24 shows over the 2 years and this was the first ever with 3 solo acts. Risky for a Saturday night? Maybe. But this line up was a true representation of everything Secret Sessions stands for; exalting the unknown, honouring the effort and celebrating the most talented young musicians at the beginning of their journey.
We are always excited to put on our monthly live night but this promised to be special.
The first act to play is always chosen from our ever-growing artist community so that they can showcase their material to an eager and attentive audience. To celebrate our birthday, we invited back Kyla Stroud who first played for Secret Sessions 4 years ago with her twin sister Nat — which you can watch here.
With her friends and family in the room — many of them sat on the floor down the front, Kyla took to the stage for the first time in six months…. not that you’d know! She oozed confidence and calm, delivering her witty and poetic songs, and all with a wonderful sense of humour. Kyla even interrupted one of her original songs to acknowledge that it sounded a bit like ’Walking In Memphis’.
Our audience connected with this young artist immediately and she quickly had the whole room in the palm of her hands. Asking her friends on the front row what song to sing next, the set felt more like hanging out at Kyla’s house than a performance. She later went on to social media to describe the gig as one of her “favourite gigs to date”.
Secret Sessions recently organised an intimate pop-up show in Margate, inviting local artist JAKL to perform. He was really good! Realising that his voice needed to be heard further, we invited him to perform at Secret Sessions Live to introduce him to a brand new audience.
JAKL opened with a cover of a Loudon Wainwright III song, quickly followed by a ‘you’ll be pleased to know I’m not a Wainwright tribute act’ joke and a dry ‘but the songs aren’t about to get any happier’ follow through. What a guy!
JAKL’s mix of gentle humour fitted perfectly alongside his beautiful song writing. Carried along by roars of approval between songs, he quips, “this one’s happier, it’s not happy, but it’s happier than that one.”
His set ended to rapturous applause and whistles but his finely crafted melancholy is swiftly torpedoed as Harriet joined him on stage for some birthday celebrations complete with cake and candles!
“So, earlier I mentioned there were a couple of birthdays tonight, not only is it Secret Sessions Live’s 2nd birthday but it’s also the birthday of our amazing Community Manager, Ella. I’ve asked JAKL to learn to play a song that we all know and can sing along to.” JAKL begins to play ‘Happy Birthday’ on the guitar and the chorus began!
During the break, the crew swapped over the instruments leaving just a keyboard and a cello on stage. The intrigue started to build once more.
The Secret Sessions crew had been keeping this one under wraps all month but finally the moment had arrived.
Freya Ridings stepped onto the stage. Joined by her cellist Ben Trigg, they settled in, checked the mics and then gave each other the nod… and then boom!
Nothing can really prepare you for the effect Freya’s voice has. Sitting somewhere between Adele, Florence Welch and London Grammar’s Hannah Reid, hers is both vast and tender at the same time. It’s one thing to watch her videos online but the difference of being in the room when she sings and to see the effect it has on the people around you is a powerful and moving moment.
Her new single (and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s cover) ‘Maps’ drew a complete and silent attention. Similarly, ‘Blackout’ seemed to freeze the room, leaving just the voice… plucking at heartstrings in the dark. There were tears… especially during ‘Unconditional’ which she dedicated to her mum who was in the audience. There was laughter too as Freya dedicated a song to Secret Sessions head honcho, Harriet who was jetting off to get married.
We are sure Freya Ridings will take her place amongst the great British female singers in the years to come. To our mind this is just a matter of time… and we know it’s not just us who thinks there’s something big happening here, after all Zane Lowe has his eye on her too!
If you came down, thank you for coming! If you didn’t and you’d like to, the next Secret Sessions Live is on 24th August 2017. Sign up for free guest list places here.