Ayanna Witter-Johnson seems to drip talent from every pore of her being. As well as being a virtuoso cellist and pianist, the Manhattan School of Music graduate is also a singer/composer blessed with a soulful, honey-toned voice and already has a clutch of singles and one album, 2019’s Road Runner, to her name. On her next project, her second album Ocean Floor due in October, London-born Witter-Johnson offers a unique collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra Percussion Ensemble.
The 12-track live album is preceded by the single ‘Pioneers,’ which is the second movement from the album’s evocative three-part ‘Ocean Floor’ suite which salutes two moments of personal significance to Witter-Johnson; a major historical event that affected her ancestors in the 18th century in which a British slave ship was responsible for the loss of 130 enslaved people who were purposely thrown overboard, and a tragic event witnessed by Witter-Johnson in Jamaica in which a young man lost his life to the ocean.
Says Ayanna of her new album: “I’m excited to finally announce Ocean Floor with the LSO Percussion Ensemble and our first single ‘Ocean Floor Suite Pt.2: Pioneers’. This special project was born out of a beautiful friendship with Principal LSO Percussionist Neil Percy. His enthusiasm for my music was the catalyst for our first collaboration and subsequent commission ‘Forever’. Our aim was to create a full concert programme, which led to two further commissions, ‘Ocean Floor Suite’ and ‘Tidal Warning’. With the addition of a selection of arrangements and Gwilym’s ‘All Roads’, composed in response to my song ‘Chariot’, we have produced Ocean Floor as a fully-realised collaboration. I treasure this project because I have felt continual support to express myself fully through the exploration of themes around my ancestry, family history, and the ocean.”
Witter-Johnson will perform with the LSO Percussion Ensemble as part of the Edinburgh International Festival on 15th August 2023
Ocean Floor is released on LSO Live on 27th October 2023. The album will be released on vinyl in April 2024.