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Cello Ayanna

Ayanna Witter-Johnson graduated from Trinity Laban in 2008 with a First Class Degree in Composition and the Trinity Laban Silver Medal, and went on to complete a Masters of Music in Composition at the Manhattan School of Music. She was a participant in the London Symphony Orchestra’s Panufnik Young Composers Scheme and become an Emerging Artist in Residence at London’s Southbank Centre.

Straddling the classical and alternative R&B worlds, Ayanna was a featured artist with Courtney Pine’s Afropeans: Jazz Warriors and became the only non-American to win Amateur Night Live at the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem, NYC.

We were lucky enought to ask Ayanna some questions about her practice;

How would you describe the music you create? Acoustic Soul, Orchestral RnB.

Who are your biggest inspirations- musical or otherwise? Eckhart Tolle, Maya Angelou, Bach, Take Six, Steely Dan, Sting, Nina Simone, Charles Mingus, Sojourner Truth.

What is your process in approaching a new piece of work? How do you get into the right zone to create your music? I generally need to find some quiet both internally and externally - an extended meditative zone where I can quiet my 'thinking mind' so I can open to an inspired 'flow state'.

What advice would you give to young people who want to make music? Enjoy the process and allow yourself to grow. There are no 'mistakes' just feedback.

What inspired you to combine you voice and cello in your music making? It happened when I was booked for a gig, whilst studying, to play piano and sing but the venue didn't have a piano and my keyboard was too heavy to carry so I brought my cello (Reuben) instead. A divine necessity :-)

What would you do differently if you were just entering the industry today? I would make the best recording I can of everything I've ever composed

Tickets for the Trinity Laban concert at Go Cello! on Friday 13 April are avaliable on the Trinity Laban website.

Find out more at


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