Revealed – the Suffolk acts supporting Ed Sheeran at his homecoming gigs
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
The three local acts chosen to support Suffolk superstar Ed Sheeran at his homecoming concerts in August have spoken of their excitement ahead of the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Singer-songwriter Ed, who lives in the Framlingham area, asked BBC Introducing in Suffolk to nominate a trio of artists to open the first three nights at Chantry Park.
The show's presenters, Richard Haugh and Angelle Joseph, have selected the cream of the crop from local acts, who submitted their music via the BBC Introducing Uploader.
Ed received support from the radio show in the early stages of his career. Music from his self-released EPs was given airtime on BBC Introducing, and he went on to perform a live gig with the show at the Anchor pub in Woodbridge.
The first of the chosen few is Ipswich singer-songwriter Bessie Turner.
Bessie, who was raised in the Eye area, headlined the BBC Introducing Stage at the Reading and Leeds festivals and released her very first EP, 22:22, in 2018. She has also performed at Latitude Festival in Suffolk.
Her debut single, Big Sleep, was released on her own label in April 2017, and streamed more than 10,000 times in 12 hours.
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The 26-year-old said she was "completely overwhelmed" by the news.
"I am so happy to be part of it," she said.
"It is quite an amazing thing that is happening in our town - I think it is going to be something that goes down in history."
Bessie's music style has been described as eclectic, and draws inspiration from a range of big names, from MIA to Dionne Warwick.
The singer-songwriter said she is excited to support Suffolk's biggest superstar - but hasn't yet got her head around performing on such a huge stage.
"I have met Ed a couple of times before," she added.
"I have kind of followed his career from when he was doing music as a teenager."
Bessie recently gained national recognition for her efforts to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness.
In October last year she posted a picture of herself crying on Instagram, alongside a message encouraging people to reach out to their friends and family about their mental health.
She received an "overwhelming" response, with comments saying the post was "comfort for all who struggle".
The second act to be selected is Piers James, a hip hop artist from Ipswich.
The 29-year-old, who has performed on the BBC Introducing and Lake stages at Latitude, started playing the piano at just seven years old, before developing a passion for music production at 16.
Inspired by artists such as Wiley, Skepta and A Tribe Called Quest, he describes his style as jazz-infused old-school hip hop, with influences of new-school sound.
Piers, who went to Ipswich School and East Bergholt High School, said he was "ecstatic" to find out he would be supporting Ed in August.
"I don't know where my head is at," he said.
"I have been working so hard - I had actually forgotten about it. When I heard it I thought: 'Am I sleeping - is this a dream?'
"It has got to the point now where I have created this amazing body of work and I am going to release something in August. It is all meant to be.
"I have done shows for 300 people and I have done shows for 10 people. I always give it 100%. I know all the lessons I have learned from those are going to propel me in this one."
The third and final act to be picked by BBC Introducing is Salvador, an indie-rock band from Ed's home town of Framlingham.
The band, founded in 2016, is formed of Lucas Evans, 17, Jan Ashwell, 17, Felix Church, 16, and Jude Machan, 17. Jan attends Thomas Mills High School, where Ed spent years honing his music skills.
Salvador recorded their debut EP in the summer of 2018 at Decoy Studios in Suffolk, and have performed at local venues including The Apex in Bury St Edmunds and The Smokehouse in Ipswich.
Jan wasn't expecting the call from BBC Introducing, and said it gave him quite a shock.
"I was on the toilet," he said.
"They got in contact with us a while ago about doing a session, so I thought it was about that.
"Obviously I am still processing it. It is so exciting."
An hour before the announcement was due to be made, Jan was still struggling to get through to one of the band members - who is currently on a classical tour in Tuscany.
He did, however manage to get through to his grandma.
Jan said she was very excited by the news, as "the only contemporary musician she knows is Ed Sheeran".
This will not be the first time he has met Ed, as the star paid a surprise visit to Thomas Mills fairly recently.
"Ed came into our school not long ago," Jan said.
He said he was ushered over to the superstar by his music teacher as soon as he arrived.
"It was scary to show arguably the best songwriter in the world how we write music," he added.
"He liked it. I'm sure he sees a lot of himself in us."
Reflecting on the choices, Ms Joseph said: "We're so excited and honoured to be part of this local history. So many people deserve this, but we know our three will really take this opportunity to highlight Suffolk's booming music scene."
Mr Haugh added: "We're eternally grateful to Ed for giving this leg up to local acts following in his footsteps. Over the past couple of years Bessie Turner has captured the hearts of gig-goers in the county, so it will be amazing to see her perform at such a big party for Ipswich.
"Piers James will represent our incredible hip hop scene, while Salvador will offer a glimpse of the ridiculous talent possessed by the next generation of guitar bands. We can't wait."