Nigerian Afro-fusion star Omah Lay and Gambian-British rapper Pa Salieu were this week selected for the newly launched Montreux Jazz Festival Spotlight initiative.

Omah Lay and Pa Salieu were named alongside 18 other emerging international artists, all of whom will benefit from digital content creation including promotion, recorded live sessions and special events including a showcase at Montreux Jazz Festival. Last year, Omah Lay, who is the author of two EPs, was cited by Apple Music and Audiomack as one of Africa’s most exciting new voices. Pa Salieu was recently named the winner of BBC Music’s Sound of 2021 poll.

MJF Spotlight forms part of the festival’s initial plans for 2021 and seeks to support emerging talent around the world.

“The lack of concerts and festivals has a severe impact on the emergence of new artists,” Montreux Jazz Festival CEO Mathieu Jaton said. “At Montreux Jazz Festival, hundreds of up-and-coming talent usually perform each summer on our various stages.

“With the launch of MJF Spotlight, we will now be able to promote new talent throughout the year on our digital channels, independently of the festival line-up. This initiative brings together our booking team’s competence, the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation’s support to emerging talent and Montreux Media Ventures’ digital content expertise.”

MJF Spotlight will run throughout 2021 on the festival’s digital channels. Each month, a musicians will be selected as MJF Spotlight’s Artist of the Month, allowing them to participate in the MJF Spotlight Sessions, which will be published both as exclusive video clips and live EPs on music streaming platforms. Additionally, the festival’s booking team will curate monthly playlists with new songs from the selected artists.

Meanwhile, Montreux Jazz Festival has secured an exclusive live-stream deal with Canadian music, media and technology company Stingray and its streaming service Qello Concerts. The deal forms part of an ongoing multi-year agreement between the companies and has already seen Qello Concerts gain access to more than 50 Montreux Jazz Festival concerts. The deal, together with MJF Spotlight, is expected to foster new creative opportunities and ensure the long-term sustainability of the festival and its performing artists.

The festival is also expected to announce details about this year’s edition, as well as new deals and partnerships with brands and labels in the coming weeks.

Founded in 1967 and traditionally taking place in July, Montreux Jazz Festival is the second-largest annual jazz festival globally, after Canada’s Montreal International Jazz Festival.