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Aberdeen’s True North music festival will ‘Rise Up’ with glittering array of stars

Grammy and MOBO-award winning Corinne Bailey Rae leads a glittering line-up for Aberdeen's True North festival.
Grammy and MOBO-award winning Corinne Bailey Rae leads a glittering line-up for Aberdeen's True North festival.

Aberdeen’s celebrated True North music festival returns next month – and Grammy and MOBO-award winning star Corinne Bailey Rae will headline with a special celebration of Stevie Wonder.

Corinne will be just one of a glittering line-up of musicians for the four-day event, including John Grant, Rachel Sermanni, Ayanna Witter-Johnson and the Granite City’s own rising rapper star Ransom FA.

True North will have a theme for the first time – Rise Up. It’s a celebration of freedom of expression, diversity and community as Aberdeen Performing Arts prepares to welcome audiences back to the Music Hall, Lemon Tree and His Majesty’s Theatre for the first time since March last year.

Ben Torrie, APA’s director of programming and creative projects, said: “We are thrilled to announce the line-up for True North 2021.

“It feels really good to be able to bring the festival to a live audience once again. It means a lot to us to be able to put this on for people in Aberdeen and to shine a spotlight on so many talented performers and musicians is a privilege that has never been so important.”

Corinne will curate ‘must-see’ gig

True North will run from Thursday September 23 to Sunday September 26 at venues across the city.

Corinne – who became a household name with her single Put Your Records On – will close the festival on Sunday when she curates a special tribute to the work of Stevie Wonder.

Music legend Stevie Wonder will be celebrated with a True North celebration curated by Corinne Bailey Rae.

She will be joined by special guests to perform legendary hits from the artist’s back catalogue, in what promises to be an extraordinary evening of music.

Previous curated True North concerts have become highlights of the festival, having celebrated the music of Neil Young, David Bowie and Kate Bush.

Fans will also be thrilled to see American singer-songwriter and former Czars frontman John Grant headline True North at the Music Hall on the Saturday evening.

John Grant will appear at the True North festival.

Described as “the misfit’s misfit” and “too weird to be mainstream, too mainstream to be weird”, he will be supported by acclaimed Scottish performer Rachel Sermanni.

Aberdeen’s own Ransom FA will perform

Also on Saturday, Aberdonian grime rapper Ransom FA will head up late night at The Lemon Tree.  The fast-rising artist was a contestant on the UK TV show, The Rap Game, where he battled other budding rappers for a record deal.

Prior to the Rap Game, Ransom had already shared the stage with many of the biggest UK rappers, such as Skepta, Wiley, Mist, M Huncho to name only a few. He will be joined at The Lemon Tree by Chef, Sean Focus and DJ HomeAlone.

Rising star Ransom FA will play a hometown gig.

Headlining on Friday night at the Lemon Tree with a Night of New Voices is the soulful, eclectic Ayanna Witter-Johnson.  A singer, songwriter, cellist, composer, producer and arranger with phenomenal musical prowess, Ayanna unapologetically imprints her unique musical signature into her work. Heir Of The Cursed, Robyn Davidson and DJ Rebecca Vasmant will complete the line-up.

Playing on Thursday and kicking off True North 2021 will be Peaness, who will be bringing their catchy, fuzzy, harmony-driven indie-pop songs about love, friendship, frustrations, Brexit and food waste to the Lemon Tree. They will be joined by Swim School and Lavender Lane.

Ayanna Witter-Johnson is a unique musical talent.

As well as the music treats, True North will offer a specially commissioned spoken word event, headed by award-winning poet and three-time slam champion Jo Gilbert at The Lemon Tree on Sunday.

Rise Up is a positive message

It will focus on the Rise Up theme and four local spoken word artists will produce new work for the showcase event.

Ben said: “Rise Up is a positive message about rising up to bring people together, marking the re-opening of our venues, and celebrating the power of music to help us stand up for the things we believe in. We could not be prouder of this festival at this time.”

Ben Torrie, head of programming for Aberdeen Performing Arts, is thrilled by the return of True North.

Fringe events are planned to take place in venues across the city over True North weekend and details will be announced shortly.

Tickets for all True North events are on sale to Friends of APA now and on go on general sale on Friday 20 August from

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This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.