Georgia Mancio: ReVoice!
"I try to think about the main artists. Once I've booked someone, I plan the support slot so that hopefully it will fit with that artist's approach: either a complementary sound or a contrast. Until we get together to rehearse, which happens in the final two months before ReVoice!, I don't know exactly how we'll work. I like each support spot to be a collaborative thing. A duo is such a pure partnership; it's nice to pick the material and make decisions together. Everyone always jumps on board; they realize that it isn't going to be simply a matter of choosing a few standards on the bandstand. It's actually a really intense half-hour: you have to immediately hook into what the other person is doing."
To date, Mancio's duo partners have come mostly from the London jazz scene. "In years to come, I'd like to work with musicians who aren't based in London. It's an incredibly rich scene here, but there are other great scenes, too. A lot of the time, budget constraints and logistics make it hard: I don't have a huge budget for these collaborations. I intentionally made ReVoice! an international vocal festival in terms of headliners, so it's also nice to draw my duo partners from the local scene."
ReVoice! doesn't have any external financial support. As the festival gets bigger, Mancio is developing new skills in money management. "This year, we've planned more than in the first two years, allocating budgets to specific things, for example. It's important, too, because this is the first year that we've involved another venue and promoter, so we had to formalize things. The Union Chapel shows are my idea, to try and make the most of a large venue, but I'm conscious that I need to get the balance right."
The unpredictability of the contemporary music scene means that festival planning can be a gamble. For Mancio, a gamble that paid off was her decision to book singer Gregory Porter for the 2011 ReVoice! lineup. "When I first contacted Gregory's manager in the States, he told me that I was the first person from the UK to offer Gregory a gig. We were concerned that no one knew who he was, so we put him on at the weekend, when it's easier to attract a good crowd. I booked him 10 months before the festival, in early 2011. Soon after that, he did a spot on Jools Holland's television show, national radio on Jamie Cullum's show and really took offhis gigs became the easiest sell in the world."
Mancio is already thinking about the program for the 2013 ReVoice! "I'm talking to agents now, starting to make contacts. If ReVoice! has a future, then it would be really useful if more agents and managers heard about it. I'd like them to see it as a great platform for their artists so that they will start to contact me. That hasn't really happened yet on an international level, but it is starting slowly."
It's important to realize that the festival is still young: it takes time to develop an audience, a public awareness and a reputation. As the ReVoice! brand develops, people will, hopefully, learn to trust it, and audiences will develop a loyalty. "That's the idea. Last year was very encouraging for that. Every night attracted strong audiencessold out or close to it. The plan is to build year on year and keep people coming. This year will be interesting, using an additional venue and another promoter. I'll be able to take a bit more of a back seat on the production side and be more focused on the artistic side.
"For me, it's very important to keep ReVoice! personal. I don't want it to branch out into four or five concurrent venues where it's impossible for me to get involved in every event each night. All of that makes it really special for me."
Mancio is all too aware of the effect that ReVoice! has had on the rest of her work, especially on her career as a singer. "ReVoice! has come into my life, and it's a bit like having children: you wonder what life was like before it happened. There's no question that the workload diverts me from thinking about my individual career, and I definitely want to address that. Next year, I've got a few projects in mind; I just haven't decided which one I want to take forward. I am planning to tour next summer. It needs to tie up with the lull in organizing ReVoice!, which is around this time of year. I've spent a couple of years working on things I definitely want to get going. Maybe I'll record at the end of this year for a release in the middle of 2013. I feel that it's important to keep on with my own personal work. I feel I've moved on, like everyone does, I expect."
Georgia Mancio, Silhouette (Roomspin Records, 2010)
Georgia Mancio, Trapeze (Roomspin Records, 2007)
Georgia Mancio, Peaceful Place (Roomspin Records, 2003)
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