Powerful Female Artists You Need to See in Manchester this Year

Including Mancunian jazz trap queen IAMDDB, an International Women's Day special with Vicky Grout, rising-star Arlo Parks and BRIT-backed Celeste at some of Manchester's most exciting and intimate venues...

By Ciara Martin | 6 March 2020

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Celeste for WONDERLAND. Photo: Lauren Maccabee

So it’s March (how?) and 2020 is well underway.

I’m feeling a little disheartened at the lack of equality from most of the recent festival lineups and I’m not really sure what to make of the whole slowthai disaster. I mean, what he did was lousy and made me and most of the UK cringe with disappointment, but he’s since apologised and Katherine Ryan said it wasn’t even a situation in the first place (but let’s just knock the casual misogyny on the head going forward – shall we?)

Annie Mac has been battling her way through endless amounts of “buT FeMale ArtIstS jUst aReN’t tHaT GoOd” tweets since the Reading and Leeds lineup was announced, patiently and graciously highlighting the fact that we make up fifty percent of the population and the gender-gap issue lies way deeper than just the festival lineups.

But people have been shouting about the lack of inclusivity on festival bills since 2015 – so why are we back here?

The gender balance in this year’s BRIT award nominations has lent the issue some credibility, with the likes of Stormzy and Foals speaking up after scooping their awards after winning Best Male and Best Group.

“To be the Best Male, I’ve got the most incredible females on my team, ‘I love you lot. You are the greatest. The best male is nothing without these incredible females. I love you”.

We love you, Stormzy.

With this decade now in full swing, I thought we’d keep this lighthearted and round up some pretty powerful women you might not want to miss. Here’s who’s coming through to Manchester this year…

Vicky Grout & Meme Gold: Gramm Talks Women in the Creative Industry
Off The Square. Sunday 8 Mar 2020

Ok, I know this isn’t specifically a gig, but you need to see the lineup. Gramm are throwing us into International Women’s day with their first-ever Gramm talk from a number of powerful women (including Photographer Vicky Grout and Designer/Radio Host Meme Gold). Joined by 5 guest speakers discussing women in the creative industry, the event will be followed by a mixer with sounds from Manchester’s best female DJ’s – I can’t wait.



DJ Paulette: FEMME FORWARD International Women’s Day Fundraiser
The Project Halcyon Distillery Manchester. Sunday 8 Mar 2020

Manchester Queen DJ Paulette has a career spanning more than two decades and three countries. Paulette has been a resident at some of the biggest and best clubs in the world, with residencies in prestigious clubs including the Hacienda here in Manchester, Queen Club, Mix Club, Cocoon (Frankfurt), Ibiza Rocks at Pikes Hotel. Catch her this Sunday as she headlines FEMME FORWARD. With a four-hour takeover, all profits from the event will be put towards training management teams in Manchester’s hospitality and entertainment industries in Mental Health in the Hospitality Workplace.



Arlo Parks
YES (The Pink Room). Monday, 09 Mar 2020

19-year-old Arlo is fresh off Loyle Carner’s sold-out European tour and has just gifted us her latest stunning and emotionally challenging music video for Eugene, directed by the Coyle-Larner brothers. Carving her niche and stepping into the game with her whispery vocals and poetic harmonies – Arlo is, in her own words, “a black kid who can’t dance for shit, listens to emo music and currently has a crush on some girl in my Spanish class”.




Matilda Mann with Arlo Parks
YES (The Pink Room). Monday, 09 Mar 2020

The perfect support act to Arlo, Matilda Mann will be bringing her sound to YES. Acoustic, refreshing vocals – Matilda’s sound is one that’s been curated from the likes of Joni Mitchell & Kate Bush. Honest and gentle, Matilda’s lyrics just take over, and are often crafted from notes taken from conversations with friends.



Anz @ a party called: True
Soup Kitchen. 13 Mar 2020

Anz’ tracks have been described by DJ Mag as being like “rogue fireworks” and I couldn’t agree more. The eclectic Mancunian DJ/producer has a passion for Manchester’s club scene and this March we can catch her live at the brand new ‘a party called: True’ at Soup Kitchen. “New party, new crew. Five Manchester heads joining forces to throw a rave in Soup Kitchen basement. All styles, all angles. The first edition: True”.



Grace Carter
Manchester Academy 2. Saturday 21 Mar 2020

Soul-searching, heartbreaking sounds that captivate you – Grace Carter’s most recent track Amnesia is a forgiveness anthem which reminded us why we should be paying attention. Nominated for the BBC Sound of 2019, 2020 is looking bright for Grace and I’m excited for what’s next.


Pip Millett
YES (The Pink Room). Wednesday, 22 Apr 2020

Hailing from Stockport, Pip’s debut single “Make Me Cry” hooked me from the off. The R&B rising star places her lyrics at the centre of every track, with her style falling in her own words, “ somewhere under the umbrella of neo-soul”. If you’re quick you can catch her at Manchester’s iconic YES bar.



The Deaf Institute. Tuesday, 28 Apr 2020

Straight from under the radar, Celeste has just scooped the award for the BRITS Rising Star, and it couldn’t be more well-deserved for the neo-soul singer and songwriter. Celeste’s urban soul tracks will make your heart ache, but in a nice way, I promise.



Manchester Academy. Wednesday 25 Nov 2020

After operating a little more low-key than usual, the unapologetic Mancunian jazz trap queen has been crafting her sound and has gifted us her latest track Urban Jazz. In her own lane, IAMDDB’s sound is a genre-blurring a heady blend of soul, trap, jazz and hip-hop. Pay attention.