Reading Real Ale & Jazz Festival finalists performing at the Madejski Stadium

PUBLISHED: 10:57 28 April 2014 | UPDATED: 10:57 28 April 2014

Reading RAJC

Reading RAJC


Finalists will perform in front of judges on Thursday, 1 May at The Jazz Café, Madejski Stadium in Reading.

Mill TonesMill Tones

Organisers of the Reading Real Ale & Jazz Festival launched a competition at the start of the year to find fresh new talent and for one lucky jazz band or performer, to have the chance to play live at the festival taking place in July.The finalists performing at the grand final on 1 May are Nicole Johnson, The Mills Tones Dance Band and Stephane Harivelo.

Nicole Johnson is originally from Los Angeles and her musical background hails from the American church gospel tradition. Her earliest performances were to church congregations as a very young child and she later moved on to direct community gospel choirs and gospel music workshops throughout California.

In 1999, she came to Reading to study English Literature and joined the University of Reading Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Patrick Kelley as its soloist. This led to the beginnings of a jazz solo performance career, which would span England, Los Angeles and Paris. In 2009, Nicole obtained a diploma in jazz vocal performance from Trinity Guildhall London. Nicole lives in Reading with her husband Zaránd and young sons, Peter and Emil.

Nicole JohnsonNicole Johnson

The Mills Tones Dance Band have been playing the music of the Big Bands for nearly 50 years. Based in Wokingham, Berkshire, they rehearse once a fortnight.

Stephane Harivelo was born and raised in Madagascar. Stephane has naturally developed his own musical style by blending Reaggae and Jazz with a hint of Malagasy tribal feel. Stephane has been living in London for 10 years now and has performed in a wide range of venues including Stratford Royal Theatre Bar, Stratford Circus, the O2 (Angel) and many more. The rawness and sincerity of his live performances are what makes him stand out. Simply accompanied by an acoustic guitar, Stephane writes his own songs which are inspired from personal experiences and everyday life observations.

Along with the audience, three judges will be watching the three finalists perform live. The judges are: BBC Introducing’s Linda Serek, Reading Post’s Caroline Cook and local jazz performer Otis Lawrence. Looking after the evening’s proceedings is TV and radio presenter Michael Kurn. Micheal presented last year’s UK Jazz Awards in London.

Tickets can be purchased on the night for £2 with all proceeds going to the festival organisers, Reading Hockey Club. Doors open at 7.30pm and performances start at 8pm. The event is sponsored by the Reading Post and The Jazz Cafe Reading.

More information can be found on the festival’s website, on Twitter at and on Facebook

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