Four women have been awarded £10,000 towards developing their podcast idea in the latest edition of Spotify’s Sound Up UK programme, a week-long training and development course created to amplify the voices of women of colour through podcasting.

Women from across the UK applied for Sound Up earlier this year, with 10 lucky finalists chosen to attend the programme in Manchester and develop their podcast ideas. Over the week they attended workshops and talks with industry experts, learning all aspects of podcasting, from storytelling and production to marketing and publishing. The intensive, weeklong program is led by long-time facilitators Rekha Murthy, Graham Griffith and Christina Moore.

At the end of the week, each participant pitched their idea to a panel of judges for a chance to receive a £10,000 grant towards turning their podcast idea into a reality, with four winning ideas chosen:

  • Tosin Mustapha – Bringing the myths and folklores of Africa and Asia to the forefront, Tosin’s podcast will highlight the brilliant stories and old beliefs we were never taught about the original gods and goddesses of different continents and tribes.
  • Esther Robertson – Esther’s podcast is about exploring her own personal adoption story. Born Black, but raised in a privileged white family in Scotland, Esther’s podcast will focus on her investigation to find her birth mother – an inspiring journey which she will be starting in correlation with the podcast launch.
  • Clara Monroy – A positive exploration of life from a lesbian point of view, Clara looks beyond what is considered appropriate or acceptable. Her podcast will navigate lesbian experiences and the challenges and struggles that come with it, with a rotating line-up of guests to discuss sex, dating, current events and everything in between.
  • Shade Nathaniel-Ayodele – For the biscuit lover, Shade’s podcast Biscuits and Crumbs will cover all things about the beloved treat, uncovering unknown facts all while discussing the crumbs and chocolate chips of life.

Reflecting back on her Sound Up experience, Esther says: “The best part of Sound Up for me was the opportunity to meet and work with such a wonderful creative, collaborative and inspiring group of women of colour. Living in Scotland, that’s quite a rare event for me and I was motivated and stimulated by the whole experience. The next step for me is to work with my mentor and create my episode plan. From there, I need to locate and contact a few ghosts from my past to begin my journey of self-discovery. It’s time to find Esther.”

Clara adds: I’m still buzzing from the experience and have been busy reaching out to my community and looking for their feedback and input. Besides the grant, Spotify has organised additional mentoring for us, and I’m looking forward to getting it off the ground, to get professional input and learn even more. 

Six runners up of the programme will continue to receive mentorship from Spotify:

  • Viv May
  • Amber Mehmood
  • Adilah Hameed
  • Emma Sayers
  • Lorraine Okuefuna
  • Moya Lothian-McLean

“The vision and drive I’ve seen in Manchester this year is astounding,” says Spotify’s Sound Up UK lead Alex Adey. “All these women bring a unique purpose to the table that speaks closely to their hearts and is sure to resonate with all of us. It’s going to be a delight to see their stories debut and watch them progress as they make a name for themselves in the podcasting world and open the UK up to their ideas. Spotify is proud to play a part in supporting and empowering these talented voices, ultimately diversifying the British podcasting landscape.”

Tolani Shoneye, co-host of The Receipts podcast, who featured as a judge on this year’s programme, adds:

“Being a part of Sound Up has been so special to me. As someone who started a podcast with very little idea on what I was doing, it’s so amazing to see Spotify support ten black and brown women and give them the knowledge that allows them to have authority and belief in their podcast ideas. Hearing such diverse pitches shows the amazing ideas that can be brought to life when light is shone on untold stories, from untold voices.”

Spotify’s aim is to transgress the boundaries of music and become the go-to platform for podcasts, facilitating voices and stories across the globe. Through programs like Sound Up, Spotify strives to inspire a new generation of podcasters and cultivate positive social change.


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