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Ni Maxine Is On The Scene: A Year in Review (2023)

Updated: Feb 5

Ni Maxine's highlights in 2023, from releases to live shows to awards. 2023 was a good one, bring on '24!



As we move into the second month of 2024 (gosh, January went fast), I thought I'd finally take a moment to reflect on 2023. It felt like a really big year for me. I was consistently pushed out of my comfort zone and consistently surprised myself. People tell me that I'm 'doing so well', and sometimes I struggle to believe that, because I know what happens behind the scenes, but I'm glad I am successfully keeping up appearances online... Ha!


On a more serious note, I want to be a lot more open and honest with you about how things are going, so if you want the inside scoop, join my mailing list community and don't worry, I won't just be moaning, I'll also be sharing therapy reflections, behind the scenes bits, demos, personal stories, early access to tickets and invitations to exclusive events!


Let's go through it, month by month... Don't feel bad if you get bored and tap out, this is here mostly for my own recollection!


January 2023

After a busy end to 2022 with a BBC Introducing show at the iconic Cavern Club, a performance of the Beatles' debut, 'Love Me Do' at Forthlin Road, 60 years on from its release alongside my EFG London Jazz Festival debut, January was a quiet one, a time for rest, recuperation and discovery. I found myself sitting in on a Levitation Orchestra live session, going to The Haggerston for the Sunday night jazz and staying up all night, jamming with some incredible musicians til the sun came up. The soundtrack: Count Basie - Lil' Darlin'.


FEBRUARY 2023

I told my myself after my 2022 sell-out 'Ode To Billie' show in The Philharmonic Music Room that my next show would be in the main concert hall and indeed it was! There were few empty seats in the stalls for this momentous occasion, where I performed original compositions and a cover with the Youth Session Orchestra, wearing a custom Maxine Brown dress and head-wrap. I never did share the footage publicly, perhaps I'll treat my mailing list subscribers to it soon...


MARCH 2023

After a little break with my family, I went over to Leeds to work on my music, in residence with Opera North, such an important time to make sense of the body of work I had been touring, and start exploring ways of recording it, figuring out my sound and how my live show might look. It was a deeply reflective time for me and I'm grateful to everyone who held the space for me to create! Meanwhile, the track I recorded with Grammy award-winning producer, Steve Levine, started spinning on the Jazz FM airwaves ahead of its April release - So exciting!


April 2023

'Changing Every Day', the Culture Club cover I recorded with Steve Levine was released and landed on the Jazz FM playlist. We had some lovely feedback and some of the presenters came down to Brick Lane Jazz Festival to see me perform it live, for the first time. With Boy George in the audience, the pressure was on, but I think we did it justice! The music video which Kieran and I made was released. We were so proud of what we created on what was an extremely challenging day in a dance studio on Hope Street (thank you Arts Bar) and would urge you to give it a watch, if you still haven't seen it. It was so freeing for me to put on some ballet shoes again!


MAY 2023

We launched 'The Jazz Project' at Granby Winter Garden (Toxteth, Liverpool), which is still ongoing. It's a lovely community event which invites local musicians and music lovers to meet musicians on the national stage and create music together. We were so excited to make the news with mentions from China Moses and YolanDa Brown on Jazz FM and Karen Gabay on BBC Radio Manchester. That same week, I was thrust into the spotlight with a performance on the Eurovision Village stage, a space with a 17,500 capacity, with a band which came together just days before. That was definitely one of the most high-pressure shows I've ever done, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat! Such an honour to represent the city in this way!


Next up was my Manchester Jazz Festival show which was recorded live for broadcast on BBC Radio 3's 'J to Z' show, a huge moment for me, which I still can't believe. Hearing snippets of your live show on the radio really is a treat. I'll share the link for you again soon!


JUNE 2023

After a lovely long drive from the southern coast of Wales where I'd performed at a wellness festival, I put on an intimate live show for the award-winning J.A.M. String Collective, who I shared the stage with for their second set, which was a sell-out. It was so wonderful to share renditions of my favourite jazz standards with acoustic strings and guitar at The Granby Winter Garden. I'd do it again in a heart-beat!


How can we forget, my favourite show of the year, Africa Oyé at Sefton Park. A huge occasion, which I'll never forget! I was invited back after performing as one of the 'Oyé Introduces' acts the previous year, and this time, brought a band with a full horn section. I had my mum and sister helping me backstage, which made the whole thing a lot more manageable. It was an amazing day and so lovely to have some of my family from across the Atlantic there. We all came back to mine for fish and chips after, cute!


June really was a busy one... With a week gap to finalise all of the logistics, we were off to Bordeaux, for my first international show at Bordeaux Wine Festival and wow, what a treat! A holiday with a show, you say? More of that please!


JULY 2023

From Bordeaux to Buxton, with Burton Agnes in-between, I performed in some lovely places with an incredible band in July, musically directed by Romarna Campbell, and it was so cool to hear my music come to life in a new way.


I found out that I'd been short-listed for a Youth Music Award and did an interview on ZOOM, which I got really dressed up for (EXTRA). Read on for the update on this!


august 2023

August, my favourite time of the year, when the sun is out... I listened back to my Manchester Jazz Festival performance on BBC Radio 3 for the first time, which made me feel really proud. I also made my debut at We Out Here festival, courtesy of Madame Jazz and despite being so ill that I'd collapsed on my tent floor the night before, put on a show with Romarna at the helm. It was such a great experience and I look forward to sharing videos with you in my newsletter at some point.


Rudi Creswick and I announced our single 'Dark Days Are Done', which went straight on the Jazz FM playlist, ahead of its release. We listened to it together at We Out Here on Melodic Distraction, through the brilliant 'NAM' sound system, and chatted about the track, such a lovely moment. Sad to hear that both Melodic Distraction and NAM are no-more, but looking forward to seeing what happens with that beautiful sound system!


September 2023

'Dark Days Are Done' was released, I did shows in Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds (live for BBC Radio 4 'Front Row' and at London's famous Jazz Cafe. Huge thanks to Global Soul for inviting me to be part of this incredible event. Later that month, I won my first award, the Drake YolanDa Award, after performing for a celebrity panel and being interviewed about my career goals. Beautiful moment just before a burn-out which made me postpone the 'Dark Days Are Done' tour but luckily, I had a few days holiday booked, so off I went!


OCTOBER 2023

October was my birthday month and Black History Month! I did a stripped back piano set with Max O'Hara at The Lescar, in Sheffield, where I cried a lot on stage (still burnt out, but what a release). Later that month, I performed an acoustic set with Jack Lewis at Liverpool's stunning St George's Hall, such a beautiful room to play in.


I wasn't sure whether I wanted to go, because I was so anxious, and I was extremely late, but managed to pluck up the courage to attend the Youth Music awards, because I won the solo track award! Clara Amfo presented me with the award, sponsored by Levi's. It was so emotional because I was so close to giving up on my career, but this was exactly the confidence boost I needed. It got me back on track. So grateful to everyone involved in making that happen!


After an interview with Ngunan Adamu on BBC Radio Merseyside, I popped down to Birmingham for my sold-out B:Music show, which was definitely a highlight. The crowd were amazing, and got up and danced with us at the end. I will never forget that show!


NOVEMBER 2023

We played a Supreme Standards show at Amazing Grace (London Bridge) presented by the people behind Love Supreme Festival, which I'd love to play one day. Just putting that out into the universe... We then headed straight up to Manchester for 'Black Jazz Heads' at NAM Basement with Andrew Ibi, and what a night we had! Full-circle moment, with the NAM x Melodic collaboration at WOH!


December 2023

My final show of the year was the Ni Maxine Nutcracker Night, presented by Tomorrow's Warriors, which you can read about on my other blog post. It was so wonderful to have great friends there in the audience, and to meet new people who loved my music. I surprise guested on Georgia Cécile's Manchester show with a duet rendition of Donny Hathaway's 'This Christmas', which again, I will never forget. If you get the chance to see her perform live, make sure you go!


And now we are here... Let's see what 2024 has to bring!









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