UK Country Live! presents Country Music Takeover Featuring Jade Helliwell, Ags Connolly & Lars Pluto
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Jade Helliwell is a singer / songwriter from West Yorkshire, England.
Her style is a notably British blend of pop and country, influenced by the likes of Taylor Swift, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini.
A passionate song-writer, Jade crafts her lyrics through her own observations, with a running commentary on life, love and friendships.
Over the last few years, she has performed alongside some of the biggest names on the scene, appearing regularly at music festivals including Country to Country (C2C), Buckle and Boots, FSA Festival, and Country on the Clyde. More recently she has the opportunity to open for Sam Palladio and Frankie Davis at the prestigious Nashville Meets London festival, in Canary Wharf.
In October 2016 Jade released Forget The Night (EP) which went straight to #2 in the UK country charts, and top 50 in the official album charts. The served to put Jade on the map, with strong UK press and radio support, including BBC Radio and Chris Country.
In May 2017, a video of Jade singing with a busker on a night out in Leeds went viral, and reached 21 million views on Facebook, with an additional 3 million views on YouTube. Her EP quickly re-entered the charts and hit #1 on the iTunes Country Charts, and #8 in the official charts.
In February 2017 Jade won the Yamaha Hoedown competition, securing a slot at the UK’s biggest country festival at the O2 arena in London, and resulting in an endorsement as a Yamaha Artist.
She was nominated for several awards, including Best Female and Best Solo at Box Radio, Artist of the Year and UK Female of the year at UK Country Radio, Best Unsigned Female at the Best of British Music Awards and Outstanding Artist at the Yorkshire Roots Awards, which she went on to win. Jade won the Female Vocalist of The Year award at the 2017 BCMA awards night.
2018 saw her release new EP Infatuation, picking up rave reviews and radio support as well as some great Spotify playlists features.
Following her performance at Canary Wharf, Jade was approached by tire giant Firestone, to become the face of the international music competition they host every year. Jade will perform at a number of press launches and events throughout the year, on behalf of Firestone and in collaboration with BBC Introducing presenter Abbie McCarthy.
Ags Connolly is a traditional country singer-songwriter from Oxfordshire, England.
Having attempted to write songs for years, Ags found the confidence to take it seriously after attending a workshop with Nashville super-musician Darrell Scott. Since then he’s built a reputation as an inspired songwriter at major festivals and as a constant presence on the touring circuit. Ags has headlined shows both solo and with a band across the UK, Europe and the US.
Ags’ influences come essentially from hardcore country songwriters like David Allan Coe, Johnny Paycheck and Dale Watson. However, he also takes major singer-songwriter influences from the likes of Guy Clark, Loudon Wainwright III and Chris Knight.
The debut album ‘How About Now’ was released in February 2014, receiving rave reviews including being named ‘Album of the Month’ in Country Music People magazine who described him as “the closest we’ve ever come to an English Willie Nelson”. The album was also heralded as “a masterpiece” by Maverick magazine. In 2016, Country Music People magazine named the song ‘When Country Was Proud’ as one of the Top 50 country songs from the last 30 years.
Ags’ second album, ‘Nothin’ Unexpected’, was released in February 2017. Its release led Country Music People magazine to declare him “the best singer-songwriter in the country field that this country has ever turned out” and John Godfrey from The Troubador Show to label it “the best country album to come out of the UK from the best ever UK country artist”.
Lars Pluto was born just outside Atlanta, Georgia to a family that was also a touring Southern Baptist Gospel Bluegrass group. They traveled the entirety of the southern highways of America and by age thirteen Lars had lived in just about every state south of the Mason Dixon Line.
“Music just was. It was everywhere when I was growing up…country, rock n roll, gospel…it’s all mixed up in the air down there. Kentucky left me with a certain sound; Tennessee left me with another. It gets in you in the South and you gotta get it out. You can’t help it. Then we moved north to frozen Kalamazoo, Michigan. That’s where I found rock and punk in the birthplace of the electric guitar.”
A decade in New York City followed with Lars performing in several country and rockabilly bands before he moved to London. These days Lars can be found splitting his time between his own country combo Lars Pluto and The Reavers, and performing as Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash in the West End and several national touring theatre productions.