2020 was certainly a tumultuous year at Tomorrow’s Warriors, not least the huge impact of the pandemic on our events and learning programmes, but we like to think positively and have been reflecting on some of the many highlights. Read on to enjoy them again with us! We had some fantastic gigs both in-person and virtually, some exciting awards for our founders and alumni, and were able to present some incredible learning opportunities to our participants. We were also overwhelmed by our brilliant supporters who contributed to our #IAmWarrior 2020 appeal and enabled us to continue our work into the New Year.

TW presented a sold out Jazz Jamaica All Stars show at St George’s Bristol on ‘The Trojan Story’ Tour

In a great start to the year, we presented Jazz Jamaica All Stars‘ sold out The Trojan Story show at St George’s Bristol alongside our exhibition and community outreach project The Reggae Ticket, in celebration of the amazing music and legacy of legendary label, Trojan Records. Although Covid-19 necessitated us to postpone the remaining tour dates, we are very much looking forward to reinstating these dates in 2021! To catch a glimpse of this exciting project, here’s a little clip from our London show, which returns to Southbank Centre in summer 2021!

TW Challenge for International Jazz Day

For International Jazz Day on 30 April we challenged our Warriors to improvise over a chorus of the blues, started by Gary Crosby, over Instagram. We had 16 Warriors and alumni respond and you can check them out on our highlighted Instagram story. Thanks to our supporters, we were able to quickly adapt to the lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions and keep our vital jazz community going, even though it meant most of our activities had to move online.

TW AlumnUS Moses Boyd receives Mercury Prize nomination

Our alumni continue to make us proud but we were especially proud when Moses Boyd was nominated for the Mercury Prize for his album Dark Matter, which also features some words from TW co-founder Gary Crosby. He joins Warriors alumni Cassie Kinoshi’s Seed Ensemble, Shabaka Hutchings and Sons Of Kemet, Eska, Soweto Kinch and Denys Baptiste in being nominated for this prestigious prize.

Summer Runnings

Our 12-day online summer school saw the return of many of our famous alumni including Shabaka Hutchings, Nubya Garcia, Femi Koleoso and more, to share their wisdom with the next generation of young musicians following in their footsteps. We were also able to open up the sessions to musicians outside London and indeed musicians around the world, thanks to our partnership with the wonderful Jazz House Kids in New Jersey. We had a cohort of 160 young people attending the Summer Runnings programme, all completely for free. If you would like to read more about its impact, read our feature here. If you’re interested to sponsor our Summer Runnings Programme, do get in touch!

Tomorrow's Warriors Summer Runnings e-flyer

We launchED our #IAmWarrior 2020 Appeal

We are so grateful to our growing community of supporters who stepped forward when we announced we needed to raise £100,000 again to continue making our Young Artist Development Programme £free to attend and to support the next generation of jazz musicians with a focus on black talent and young women. We’ve had shoutouts and support from novelist and screenwriter Nick Hornby, actor Colin Salmon, musician and broadcaster Cerys Matthews, broadcaster Robert Elms, plus record stores, fashion designers and our incredible alumni all finding inventive ways to donate to us. We also had a piece in The Guardian that highlighted the need for the work we do which you can read here. We’re now at over 90% of our target, thanks to you! We are so close to our target and would really appreciate your help to get us across the line by the end of January. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! Here’s a link to different ways you can support our fundraising effort.

Royal Albert Home

In August, Gary Crosby presented a showcase of Tomorrow’s Warriors, featuring performances from some of the fantastic musicians on our Young Artist Development Programme in this tribute to Charlie Parker as part of Royal Albert Hall’s online Royal Albert Home series.

#IAmWarrior at The Jazz Cafe celebrating Black History Month

We were excited to present our first club gig in six months in October, a sold-out socially distanced show at The Jazz Cafe in celebration of Black History Month, as well as raising funds for our #IAmWarrior appeal. On the night were the premieres of four new commissions from our alumni Cherise, Camilla George, Femi Koleoso and Mark Kavuma, performed by a house band of musicians from our Young Artist Development Programme. It was a brief but wonderful return to live music, a great concert, and a strong reminder of why the human race needs live music! We recorded the new works a few days later at The Premises Studios and have some very exciting plans for the recordings in 2021, so watch this space. Massive thanks to PRS Foundation for supporting these new commissions and to Arts Council England for supporting our wider programme.

Photo credits Steve Funkyfeet Photography

Janine Irons included in Music Week’s Women in Music roll of honour

Our visionary co-founder and CEO, Janine Irons MBE was honoured among 24 peers and trailblazers in the industry by Music Week as part of its highly prestigious Women In Music Roll Of Honour 2020. Director of Music at Southbank Centre, Gillian Moore CBE, said of the announcement “Janine is utterly determined that making music should not be tied to privilege and that everybody has a right to the very best in music making.” Read more here.

We Began A Trinity Laban Jazz Hang Partnership

We were excited to start this partnership with Trinity Laban in an effort to bring more opportunities for free and high-quality jazz education to missing minorities in music, especially young women and black people. Our ‘Jazz Hangs’ offered learning sessions to musicians aged 11-16. We’re looking forward to continuing this partnership in 2021, and you can read more about it here.

London Jazz Festival

We were part of several panels and performances for the EFG London Jazz Festival, which was hosted online for the first time in 2020. Particularly special for us was the regrouping of Gary Crosby’s Groundation featuring Gary on double bass, Shirley Tetteh on guitar, Moses Boyd on drums, Nathaniel Facey on alto saxophone and with the addition of Hamish Moore also on double bass. The first half saw a fiery tribute to Charlie Parker on his centenary year, followed by a set of Groundation originals, including a world premiere of a Nathaniel Facey composition.

Warriors featured on ‘Jazz 625 – The British Explosion’ on BBC

We were honoured to have a centrepiece feature in the reprise of BBC TV’s jazz programme Jazz 625. This fantastic account highlighted the value of intergenerational knowledge in UK Jazz with an appearance from Gary Crosby. It also featured performances from many of our alumni including Sons of Kemet, Nubya Garcia and Moses Boyd. You can watch it back here.

Tomorrow’s Warriors Christmas Cracker

What a way to end the year! We had special guests Gilles Peterson and Cherise, hosted by our very own Janine Irons and Gary Crosby, with lively chat, hot prize giveaways and a live band at our virtual Christmas Cracker. It was wonderful to be able to spread some much-needed cheer at the end of what has been the world’s annus horribilis thanks to Covid-19. We were so happy to be able to host our very first livestream, live from The Premises Studios and share with you some of the activities our Warriors got up to in 2020 thanks to the generous support of our donors and funders.


Thank you SOOOOO much to each and every one of our donors, funders, partners and other supporters, and to all of our musicians, music leaders and staff for all your support throughout 2020. We wish all of you a very happy, healthy, prosperous and, above all, music-filled 2021!

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