The Voice star Leah McFall and more to mentor 'Music Potential' programme in Belfast

The singer alongside Grammy nominee Iain Archer will lead the Capital XTRA scheme offering free industry training for young people

Singer Leah McFall, who was runner-up in the second ever series of The Voice, alongside Ivor Novello winner Iain Archer are amongst the names being brought together by the Oh Yeah Music Centre to help facililate and deliver one of Belfast's biggest ever music training schemes.

The Capital XTRA 'Music Potential' programme has already been rolled out by the station in cities such as Glasgow, Manchester and London, and will help break down barriers for young people aged 18-25 hoping to make it in the music industry.

The free scheme will feature guest mentors including R&B/jazz artist McFall, who has worked with the likes of Will.I.Am. MNEK and Leona Lewis, and Grammy nominee Archer, a one-time member of Snow Patrol who has since become an established singer-songwriter and has written and produced for James Bay, Jake Bugg and Liam Gallagher amongst others.

Other facilitators include upcoming Northern Irish songwriter Callum Stewart whose CV already includes work with Labrinth, Johnny McDaid and Frank Walker, with LA based R&B artist Aleem (Little Mix UK Arena support 2017) taking part in a special Music Potential Q&A. More names are due to be added over the coming weeks.

The scheme is a three-fold process starting with a series of boot camps or taster days, which people can sign up to through a simple online form. The first boot camp takes place on Tuesday, January 30 and is an opportunity to try out the key disciplines on offer including Song Writing and Performance, Radio Presenting and Producing, Music Industry and Events, and finally Music Production which includes either Ableton or Logic training.

Sixty young people will go on to take part in a ten-day MPX course beginning on February 19 in one of their chosen areas. Each discipline will include guest facilitators, mentors, producers and industry professionals who will share expertise, present master classes, offer advice and prepare groups for a local showcase in April. Some participants will be actively writing, performing and producing music, others will be involved in presenting and producing radio packages, while budding events and business managers will learn from key events and industry mentors. 

Music Potential is completely free and includes a qualification. All lunches and travel will be covered. There are opportunities to visit hubs in some of the other cities, and there's a chance to be involved in an all expenses paid trip to the iconic KOKO in London for a national showcase on May 31.

Sian O’Neill, Youth Engagement Manager at the Oh Yeah Music Centre, described it as 'an amazing opportunity for young people to gain experience and make connections through the all expenses paid program.'

'No other opportunity allows you to work with some of the best in the industry, have it all paid for and come out with a qualification at the end. I am really excited to help launch this in Belfast!’

For more info contact or to sign up now go to

Meanwhile, Ireland's largest one-day music conference is set to return next month as Output Belfast gathers another wealth of expert industry names at the MAC on Thursday, February 8.

Organised by Belfast City Council in partnership with the Music Business Support Programme and Invest NI, the day consists of panel discussions, music sessions, workshops and speed networking events as well as keynote speeches from award-winning musicians and managers of globally recognised talent.

A key element of the event is the traditional evening showcase, featuring free performances in venues across Belfast from 8-12pm. For details of the artists scheduled and where you can see them, go to to

Recently announced was the conference's closing keynote, this year a Q&A panel discussion around scoring horror/thriller films and TV shows. Moderated by director and Belfast Film Festival co-founder Brian Henry Martin with Score Draw Music’s Mark Gordon, guests for the panel include:

  • Rich Vreeland (Disasterpiece) From Los Angeles, Rich scored one of the most compelling and original horror films of the last decade-2014’s It Follows, with the music being described 'as a masterpiece of both musical technique and dramatic storytelling – and one of the most remarkable scores of the year'.
  • Stuart Braithwaite. The driving creative force and founder behind the iconic band Mogwai, Stuart is one of the globe’s most forward-thinking and compelling composers. The band’s music have been used to score everything from award winning television series (Les Revenants) to feature-documentaries (most notably Zidane and Atomic, by Belfast filmmaker Mark Cousins).
  • Carly Paradis. Carly is the composer for Line Of Duty - one of the most talked-about BBC dramas of the last decade. Carly has also composed for horror films, drama and has had a longstanding creative relationship with Clint Mansell for whom she plays piano.
  • Rory Friers. From Northern Irish band And So I Watch You From Afar, Rory in 2017 completed the score to the zombie film The Cured starring Ellen Page (Juno/Inception)

Carly Paradis

Carly Paradis

Registration for Output Belfast is now open at