Television

BBC's 'Next Big Thing' global music contest announces finalists

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MUMBAI: UK pubcaster The BBC's international search for the world's best young band or solo artist is heading towards the finale with young musicians from Armenia, Brazil, Ghana, Malawi, UK and USA winning their way into the final.

The shortlisted finalists are Silva (Armenia), Sweet Cherry Fury (Brazil), Mishkini (Ghana), NiC (Nick Giannakis) (Malawi), The Skagz (UK), Stefan Abingdon (UK) MLK and the Dreamers (USA).

The seven finalists are expected to fly into the UK next week to perform at the BBC's famous Maida Vale studios. The Next Big Thing is showcasing musicians who are 18 or under, compose original tracks and are unsigned. The shortlist was judged by a global panel of music industry names including critics, artists, record label pioneers and industry heavyweights.

The BBC initially planned to shortlist six finalists, but the global panel came up with seven names. The Next Big Thing producer Simon Pitts explains: "We had such a high standard of entries it was simply impossible to get it down to six."

One of the panellists, British writer and broadcaster, Miranda Sawyer, described Silva and her song I Like as "unnervingly sophisticated".

UK-based Gareth Simpson, who recently developed Oxjam - Oxfam's most ambitious music event ever ? said he liked the range of influences evident on Silva's performance: "There's an eastern feel fused with a contemporary R&B."

Ilka Schlockermann, German-born and now UK-based musician, producer and publicist, described Mishkini's 3 Eyez as "an interesting, mellow track" while Sergio Dias, the lead singer and founder of internationally-acclaimed Brazilian band Os Mutantes, liked the rhythm division of Mishkini's melody which he described as "simple but hearty".

The tracks can be heard at bbcworldservice.com/thenextbigthing. The Next Big Thing final will take place on 9 December 2006 in a special programme. Producer William Orbit (of Madonna, Robbie Williams and Sugababes fame) will be joined by world music legends Cathy Dennis, Angelique Kidjo, Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis (Antony & The Johnsons, The Strokes, The Smiths) and special guest Peter Gabriel in a live show to select the winner from six finalists.

The competition is part of a week of programmes from BBC World Service, Generation Next, which explores the real issues in the world according to under-18s.

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