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.
Having graduated with a First from both Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and the Manhattan School of Music, she was a participant in both the London Symphony Orchestra’s Panufnik Young Composers and Soundhub Schemes and became an Emerging Artist in Residence at London’s Southbank Centre. She has been a featured artist with Saxophonist Courtney Pine’s Afropeans: Jazz Warriors, a member of Sitarist Anoushka Shankar’s Traces of You album tour (India, EU and USA) and became the only non-American to win Amateur Night Live at the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem, NYC.
As a solo performer and with her band, Ayanna has appeared and headlined venues including the Jazz Cafe, King’s Place (Hall One & Two), the Roundhouse, Royal Festival Hall, Sage Gateshead, Het Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Town Hall Symphony Hall (Birmingham) and Jazzclub Tonne (Dresden, Germany).
Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, support from the PRS Foundation and Arts Council England, she self-released three EPs and a full length album (Road Runner) via her own record label (Hill and Gully Records) working with producers Marc Mac (4Hero), James Yarde (Terri Walker, Jamelia, Eric Benet) and featuring artists including pianist Robert Mitchell and rapper Akala. 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.
As a composer she has been commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra Brass Ensemble, Ligeti Quartet, Kronos Quartet, 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).
Receiving the Do It Differently Fund will support me with upgrading my technical setup to facilitate content creation (new music, music videos and podcasts), online collaborations (working with beats producers for my forthcoming Strings Inspire Beats! series), live-streaming (to include live performances and masterclasses) and exploring new ways to promote upcoming planned releases. Everything I need to continue thriving in this changing musical landscape.
Ayanna Witter-Johnson was also supported by the Transmission Fund in 2019.