The Norfolk man that discovered John Lewis’ Norwegian star
10:01 13 November 2015
It is the long awaited advert that marks the countdown until Christmas and pulls on the heart strings of millions of viewers across the country every year. Love it or hate it, it is the Christmas advert that has already got people talking – with 12m views on YouTube in little over a week.
John Lewis’ festive commercial tells the story of a young girl and her kindly gesture to an elderly man she spies alone on the moon – all to the sound of an acoustic cover of Oasis’ hit song, Half the World Away.
That song – already a favourite to secure the Christmas number one spot – is sung by 19-year-old Aurora, a Norwegian singer discovered by Gorleston man, Danny Roberts, who was instrumental in securing her the role as the voice of the commercial.
The 30-year-old works as repertoire manager for Decca Records, part of the vast Universal Music Group.
He said when he first heard Aurora’s music he “knew she was something special”.
“A friend who I went to university with is Norwegian himself and came to me and said there was a girl from his home town that I had to check out.
“He said she had sold out at a venue in Norway and there were more people listening outside than in it,” he added.
“Every day he kept coming to me and eventually I listened to her music and was like ‘wow, she’s amazing’.”
Studying at Norwich City College and Great Yarmouth College, Mr Roberts took a music industry management course at the University of Hertfordshire.
Now, a successful talent scout in London, he is rubbing shoulders with up and coming stars.
He said: “I signed Aurora in September 2014 and for the last year we have been developing her sound and look. In October this year, John Lewis asked her to do a demo... They loved it.”
Within two weeks they were back in the studio for a 12-hour recording session and the long wait began to see if, out of the handful of shortlisted artists, the singer would get her big UK break.
Just 11 days before the advert was released, the news broke that Aurora had landed the commercial and all hands were on deck to record the single.
“Every day for the last year has been spent building her career; now I’m focused on her career post advert – the hard work starts now.”
The emerging star is already a well known voice in Berlin – she featured in a Vodafone advert earlier this year – and is also signed to an American music label, Glassnote Records thanks to another Norfolk music mogul.
In the US she was signed by Ed Poston, a music scout originally from Norwich, and has an ever-growing fan base across the world which includes Katy Perry who tweeted: “Finally. New music that makes my heart flutter”.
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