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#NCLalumni Wrapped: Our top artists from the Newcastle alumni community

7 December 2022

It’s that time of year when everyone is sharing their most listened to artists of 2022, so we thought we’d share the musicians from your alumni community topping our playlists.

Anthony Michaels-Moore

Anthony graduated with a Combined Honours degree in 1978 and went on to become the first ever British winner of the prestigious Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition just 7 years later! He is a Grammy-nominated baritone and a specialist in Verdi and Puccini roles, best known for his portrayals that include Falstaff, Nabucco, Rigoletto, Simon Boccanegra, Iago in Otello and Germont in La traviata. In 1995, he received the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award, the highest award in the UK for live classical music making.

Song we recommend: Carmen: Toreador Song

The Boomtown Rats

The Boomtown Rats are an Irish rock band originally formed in Dublin in 1975, with honorary Newcastle graduate Bob Geldof offering lead vocals. Bob joined our alumni community in 2007, receiving an honorary doctorate in recognition of his charity work. Between 1977 and 1985, The Boomtown Rats had a series of Irish and UK hits including "Like Clockwork", "Rat Trap", "I Don't Like Mondays" and "Banana Republic" before splitting up in 1986.

Song we recommend: I Don’t Like Mondays

Dr Feelgood

Newcastle Arts graduate John Peter Wilkinson (aka Wilko Johnson) was a member of 1970s blues band Dr Feelgood. In 1976, the band reached number 1 with their live album Stupidity. Wilko’s finger-style, chop-chord strumming action, gave a fluency and a distinctive sound, and his influence was felt in bands up and down the country, and later in the emergent punk revolution. Wilko joined Ian Dury’s band The Blockheads, in 1980. His career took a twist in 2010, when he was offered an acting part in the hit series Game of Thrones, playing the role of mute executioner Ilyn Payne.

Song we recommend: Going Back Home

Field Music

Field Music are an English rock band from Sunderland that formed in 2004. The band's core consists of brothers David Brewis and Peter Brewis - both Newcastle grads. Over the years, Field Music has also featured members from The Futureheads (who Peter used to play drums for alongside fellow Newcastle graduate Ross Millard) and Maximo Park (another Newcastle alumni band!). Field Music have released eight studio albums and found an unlikely fan and champion in Prince in 2015, when the music icon tweeted a link to the band’s then-newly released single "The Noisy Days Are Over".

Song we recommend: The Noisy Days Are Over

The Futureheads

The Futureheads are an English post-punk band from Sunderland featuring Newcastle graduate Ross Millard on vocals and guitar. The band met at City of Sunderland College in 2000 and released their first studio album 4 years later. In 2005, The Futureheads released a cover of Kate Bush’s "Hounds of Love". It reached number eight in the UK Singles Chart in its first week, and was named Single of the Year by NME. The band have toured the United States with Franz Ferdinand and later supported the Pixies, Foo Fighters and Snow Patrol. Their sixth and most recent album, Powers, was released in 2019.

Song we recommend: Hounds of Love

Gabby Martin

Gabby Martin is a rising alt-pop star hailing from Cambridge (via Newcastle University’s School of Fine Art!). Her music combines a fresh and colourful personal image with her entertainingly candid lyrics to create a fun, original and organic pop-sound. Since graduating in 2021, Gabby has had tracks featured by BBC Introducing and Spotify and performed around the UK.

Song we recommend: The Prettiest Girl

Jen Mac

Folk and Traditional Music graduate Jenna Macrory was shortlisted for the Sound of Young Scotland Award in 2021. Dumfries-born Jenna, who performs under the moniker Jen Mac, found a new focus as an electronic music producer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jen Mac uses sampling to obtain gritty textures while drawing attention to social and cultural issues such as environmental and LGBTQ+ issues.

Song we recommend: Hold Me

Jimmy Nail

Jimmy Nail is an English singer-songwriter, actor, film producer and television writer who is best known for playing Leonard "Oz" Osborne in the television show Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Jimmy is an honorary member of the alumni community in recognition of his work as Patron of the North East charity FACT (Fighting All Cancers Together). He had a number one single with "Ain’t No Doubt" in 1992 and his album Crocodile Shoes sold more than one million copies in the UK.

Song we recommend: Crocodile Shoes

Kathryn Tickell

Kathryn Tickell is one of the founding staff for the BMus in Folk and Traditional Music at Newcastle University and an internationally renowned musician and composer best known for playing the Northumbrian smallpipes and fiddle. She released her first album aged 17 and was appointed as the Official Piper to the Lord Mayor of Newcastle in the same year. Since then, Kathryn has released 14 albums and worked with a wide range of musicians from all genres and styles including Evelyn Glennie, John Surman, Andy Sheppard and fellow Newcastle alumnus Sting!

Song we recommend: The Water of Tyne

Ladies of Midnight Blue

Ladies of Midnight Blue are an Afro-Latin percussion & brass duet comprised of Newcastle graduates Hannabiell Sanders (PhD in Music Performance, 2016) and Yilis del Carmen Suriel (MA Fine and Studio Arts, 2011). They create a powerful and upbeat fusion of trance drum rhythms that produce a melodic percussive sound by weaving combinations of percussion, brass, vocal chants, and mbira. The duo have performed all over the world in the last 10 years and facilitate art and music workshops with a focus on community building and raising awareness of social inequality.

Song we recommend: Spirit Rise

Lanterns on the Lake

Lanterns on the Lake are an English five-piece indie rock band from Newcastle upon Tyne who were nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2020. The band’s  bass player, Bob Allan, is a current member of staff at Newcastle University. Since forming in 2007, Lanterns on the Lake have released four studio albums and performed at the likes of Glastonbury, Bestival and SXSW.

Song we recommend: Every Atom

Maxïmo Park

Maxïmo Park are an English alternative rock band, formed in 2000 by Newcastle University graduates Paul Smith, Archis Tiku, Lukas Wooller and Tom English. The band have released seven studio albums with their debut album nominated for the Mercury Prize. They were asked to write the official song for the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018 and performed at the opening ceremony on the river Tyne. More recently, frontman Paul Smith has embarked on a solo career and released four albums.

Song we recommend: Apply Some Pressure

The Police

The Police were an English rock band formed in London in 1977 and featuring honorary Newcastle graduate Sting on lead vocals and bass guitar. The group emerged in the British new wave scene and enjoyed global popularity in the late 1970s and 1980s. Sting – real name Gordon Sumner – has gone on to achieve recognition as a solo artist and environmentalist and received an honorary Doctorate in music (DMus) from the University in 2006.

Song we recommend: Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

Roxy Music

Founding member of Roxy Music Bryan Ferry started life as a Fine Arts student at Newcastle University. Four years after his 1968 graduation, Bryan’s band rose to prominence and became one of the most influential bands of the 70s. Roxy Music produced eight classic albums, including For Your Pleasure and Avalon, and their legacy on popular music is still being heard today. As a solo artist, Bryan has released a number of critically acclaimed and highly influential albums, from These Foolish Things in 1973, to 2018’s Bitter-Sweet.

Song we recommend: Love Is The Drug

Listen to the full #NCLalumni Wrapped playlist on Spotify