The Critics’ Choice award has been a bellwether for upcoming superstars. Previous winners include Adele, Sam Smith, Florence + The Machine, and James Bay. Recent Breakthrough winners include Catfish & The Bottlemen, Sam Smith, Bastille, and Ed Sheeran.
Photo: Phil Smithies
Rag ‘N’ Bone Man
Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, aka Rory Graham, and his powerful, deep voice debuted with an album produced by Mark Crew, who worked with Bastille for its debut. The hit “Human” went No. 1 in a dozen countries throughout Europe. His U.K. / worldwide agent, Alex Hardee of CODA, met Graham through Bastille, whom he also represents. His North American agent, WME’s Kirk Sommer (who also reps Adele, Sam Smith and James Bay), met with Graham’s team in 2015 after hearing his music.
“I remember cropping and pasting his picture to the cover of a credible magazine and sending it to some friends at Fader Media,” Sommer told Pollstar. “I didn’t think it would be too long before he would appear on any cover in print.”
Photo: David Berry
Rag ‘N’ Bone Man
Rag ‘N’ Bone Man is expected to “finish this album cycle at Alexandra Palace, and 4,000 to 6,000 caps internationally,” Hardee told Pollstar. “We could probably do arenas but we will hold back for album two.”
Meanwhile, stateside, “He has a sold-out introductory club show in New York in March followed by some TV appearances and key SXSW looks culminating with a showcase at St. David’s Church on the Friday night,” Sommer said. “This will be followed by a selection of promotional activity and strategic festival plays until we likely headline around culturally relevant events this fall.”