Band with Mackem talent and named after a Sunderland street is tipped for big things after strong showing in BBC Sound of 2023

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A musical trio with featuring a producer from Sunderland has missed out on the BBC Sound of 2023, but is still has a big future according to industry experts.


The line-up of Gabriels includes Ryan Hope. The group is named after St Gabriel’s Avenue, near Sunderland Royal Hospital, where the former St Aidan’s pupil used to live.

Gabriels, who count Elton John and DJ Annie Mac among their fans, finished an impressive fifth in the 20th year of the awards. The winners were the R&B trio Flo.

Previous winners include Adele, Keane and Sam Smith. Gabriels may “only” have been fifth, but big names to finish in that position in the past include George Ezra, Kaiser Chiefs and Dizzee Rascal.

Ryan, 39, studied art at Leeds University followed by a masters at Manchester. He moved to California 10 years ago. By trade he is a director and has worked on videos for Dizzee Rascal, Massive Attack, George Michael, Bombay Bicycle Club and Zayn Malik.

He met Ari Balouzian of Gabriels while working on a video for Pharrell Williams. They both first met singer Jacob Lusk while working on a commercial and formed Gabriels. Jacob is a singer and Ari a classically trained musician. Both are from California.

The band draws on various musical styles including gospel, doo-wop and jazz. Gabriels have been dazzling critics with their debut album Angels & Queens, which they produced and mainly wrote themselves. They also went down well at Glastonbury in 2022.

Helen Brown, the Independent’s chief pop critic, told the BBC: “Gabriels are my favourites (in the top five).

“What’s extraordinary about this band is that they’re a trio that has come together with a video director from Sunderland, a singer from the US and a Californian classical musician,

“What they do is channel vintage soul without ever pastiching it.

“Gabriels create something which is a very original take on the American black tradition. I just think they’re astonishing. The syncopation, the charisma in their voices. It’s deeply arresting.”

The Sound Of 2023 was voted for by more than 130 industry experts, including former nominees Stormzy, Foals and Sam Smith.

Sunderland Echo


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