'Turning Points' Playlist

As part of Black History Month, we asked ICMP staff to pick pivotal songs in their lives and careers... 


October is Black History Month and we've been marking this important date in the calendar with plenty of great content celebrating Black music and artists.

As part of this, we've put together a 'Turning Points' playlist where we asked various ICMP staff members to contribute two songs that have been pivotal to their lives/careers. These choices were made in response to the below: 

Song #1 | Early years: A song that first showed you the power of music
Song #2 | A song that was pivotal in shaping your own vision/direction as a musician/artist 

Listen to their inspirational selections below...

Yvonne Ile  Programme Leader, CertHE Popular Music Performance

Song #1 Ron Kenoly | 'Ancient of Days' 

As a Christian, there are so many different types of music that we can engage with and they're often the ones that fuel and motivate us during childhood.

I have many memories of my mum frying plantain and making jollof rice on a Sunday afternoon while we danced and sang around the house."

I combined my love of God, with music and good food!

Song #2 Erykah Badu | 'On & On' 

When I went to college to study music, I was constantly compared to Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. I never understood why, particularly as I didn't even know who Erykah Badu was!

Once I listened to her, I understood. This song (actually, the entire 'Baduizm' album) has the vibes [that I identify with as a Nigerian woman], depth in message and lyrics [that resonate with me as a songwriter] and the aesthetic. Hearing this album was when I truly understood myself fully as an artist.

Mel Uye-Parker  Programme Leader MA Creative Music Production

Song #1 Nina Simone | 'Wild is the Wind' (Live at Town Hall)

I bought this 'Nina Simone at Town Hall' album on CD on a whim from Rob's records, a famously chaotic record shop in Nottingham when I was 15. I got completely stuck on this track for some reason. Her sultry vocal performance and cascading rococo piano brought me to tears every time I played it. Every time! Apart from it being almost like a trick that I played on myself, it unlocked a lifelong curiosity around the power of music.

Song #2 Tricky | 'Overcome'

I don't have a specific memory of this track but I've always loved Tricky's world-building. It's an aesthetic that has influenced me for decades and still does to this day - his combination of crunchy, sampled drums and dissonant synths is very present in my latest projects.

Jordan Olukanmi • Graduate Outcomes Assistant and MA Songwriting graduate

Song #1 Nas | 'I Can'

This song drew my attention to the power of music because of the message. Listening to this song when I was at primary school made me believe there was no limit or ceiling on what I could be or achieve.

It helped to build my confidence and is a song that I can always return to when I need a reminder for pushing for the goals I have in life."

Song #2 John Legend | 'Ordinary People'

This song was pivotal in shaping my artistry, as it was one of the first songs that made me appreciate being vulnerable and telling a story.

This song made me not only want to write music that makes people connect with my own stories but also gave me the kickstart to learn both piano and guitar to accompany me when I sing/perform.

Carla Monroe • Songwriting Industry Mentor / Creative Lab Tutor 

Song #1 Black Box | 'Ride on Time'

Honestly, this was the first time I had heard a song and been instantly drawn to the vocal. Loleatta Holloway's powerful vocals were so distinctive. I remember as a child trying to work out if it was a boy or a girl singing. I realise now that this was a very defining moment in shaping my own musical style - it's probably no coincidence that I make dance music today!

Song #2 Aaliyah | 'Are You That Somebody'

I was and still am a huge Aaliyah fan. This song in particular is a great example of the perfect mix of vocal tone, top line and instrumentation. For me it has a rare quality of being in its own lane stylistically - together with Timbaland she was able define her own sound and carve out her own lane as an artist. She was one of the key r'n'b artists of her era, something only the greats are able to be! 

Andrea Arrindell • Quality Officer and BA Creative Musicianship graduate

Song #1Prince | 'Diamonds and Pearls' 

I was 11 the first time I really knew what an all-round music artist looked and sounded like. I was always a fan of the 'Purple Rain' album but this record took it to another level for me.

Song #2 Marvin Gaye | 'I Want You' 

This is one of my all-time favourite songs. Through my love for Michael Jackson I stumbled upon Marvin Gaye after watching 'Motown 25, Yesterday Today, Forever' at five years old. 

Song #1 Anita Baker | 'Giving You The Best That I've Got' 

I taught myself to sing listening to many of her songs and sing this song regularly when gigging because I love it so much. 

Song #2 Whitney Houston | 'I'm Your Baby Tonight' 

She put pop and r'n'b styles together and made magic with this song. Her vocals have influenced me throughout my music journey. 

Linda Ashong | Finance Controller 

Song #1 Mary Mary | 'I just can't give up now' 

This was my go-to song when I needed a pick-me-up, and it still is.

Song #2 Chaka Khan |  'Aint no body'

Just because.......... the groove is on point!

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by ICMP staff writer
October 21, 2022
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