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Music students are given opportunity to perform at Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Two music students from University of Gloucestershire will perform live at the 2023 Cheltenham Jazz Festival after being selected through an exciting initiative introduced for the first time this year.

Felicity Mitchell and Lucy Parish, who are both studying for a degree in Popular Music, have won a highly prized opportunity to be among the acts at the star-studded event – sponsored by the University – that runs from Wednesday, 26 April to Monday, 1 May.

This year’s performers at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival include two-time Grammy Award winner Gregory Porter, acclaimed American vocalist Lizz Wright, winner of 2022 Scottish Album of the Year, Fergus McCreadie, and creative Norwegian guitarist, Stian Westerhus.

Felicity and Lucy secured their spots after the University collaborated with the organisers of the Jazz Festival on a new project aligned with the academic programme offering Popular Music students an opportunity to perform at the event.

Popular Music students were asked to choose an existing song and then demonstrate their creativity and imagination to rework that number with a jazz influence that was likely to appeal to audiences at the festival.

For their Cheltenham Jazz Festival auditions, Felicity chose to rework Location by Khalid, while Lucy selected Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden.

Felicity Mitchell - University of Gloucestershire student

Vocalist Felicity, an avid songwriter since the age of 12 and who also plays baritone ukulele, has previously made appearances at the Wychwood Festival, Phoenix Festival and 2000trees Festival.

Felicity (pictured left), who will be appearing with her band comprising Ben Nolan, Finlay Pawson and Felix Randall, said: “I have been enveloped in music since a young age, and having grown up in Cheltenham I am so excited to play my hometown festival and add it to the list of festivals I have been so lucky to perform at.”

Lucy, a singer who has been performing for nearly a decade, has appeared at several events too, including the Wychwood Festival, 2000trees Festival and Rooftop Festival.

Lucy (pictured below) said: “As a music lover, being able to perform songs I connected to on stage felt almost cathartic, a way to tell a story. As well as music, I had a love for literature and found a deep interest in writing poetry. Pairing the melodies and verses seemed like the natural progression, and once I started I couldn’t stop.

“The Jazz Festival is on the bigger end of events I have had the pleasure to be a part of, so I am incredibly excited and honoured to be a part of it.

“There is such a wide array of talent and creativity present at the festival, it has always been something I’ve wanted to do.”

Andrew Lansley, Senior Lecturer in Music Business within the University’s School of Creative Industries, said: “We’re always looking for fresh and innovative ways for our students to put into practice and develop the knowledge they’ve gained on our course programmes.

“We’d like to thank our partners at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival for collaborating with us on this fantastic opportunity for our students to perform on the main stage at such a key festival in the music calendar.

“Felicity and Lucy are both tremendously talented musicians who fully embraced the brief, and we’re very much looking forward to seeing them on stage at the festival.”

Louise Carles, Co-Programmer of Cheltenham Festivals’ “…around town” series, said: “It’s been great to work with University of Gloucestershire to help shine a spotlight on fresh and local talent at this year’s Cheltenham Jazz Festival.

“Cheltenham Festivals is a charity that exists to inspire and connect people, and this is such a great opportunity to bring new voices into jazz. We’re committed to achieving ever great diversity –this year, more than 60 per cent of our “..around town” gigs showcase at least one woman and at least one person of colour. Helping make this change matters to us.

“We can’t wait to hear Felicity and Lucy in performance!”

Digital Media third-year students at the University have also been working on a project for Cheltenham Festivals, where they have built a virtual version of the forthcoming Jazz Festival site using Unreal 5. 

The aim of the project is to help visitors with access and mobility issues to ‘visit’ the site before arrival to plan their trip with confidence, to help them navigate the festival site when they arrive.

Images courtesy of Cheltenham Festivals, Felicity Mitchell and Lucy Parish