The Fire Station opening programme continues to go from strength to strength as even more exciting artists are added to the venue’s opening line up.

Singer songwriter Emeli Sandé is returning to her hometown as a highlight of the opening programme of Sunderland’s new £18m performance venue.

Emeli, famed for her powerful vocals and heartfelt songs, will appear as part of Firestarters, the opening programme for The Fire Station Auditorium when she appears on Saturday, January 15.

The venue had revealed the first artists for Firestarters, but has now added Emeli and several other artists to the programme which starts when The Fire Station Auditorium opens next month and runs to next June.

Tamsin Austin, Director of The Fire Station, said: “Emeli is one of the country’s most popular and respected artists and we can’t wait to welcome her back to her home city.

“As Chancellor of University of Sunderland her links to the city remain strong and I’m sure local and regional fans of her music will be desperate to get tickets for her show, which will be an intimate acoustic performance.

“Emeli will be a huge attraction to our new venue and a massive addition to Firestarters.

“We’re delighted to add Emeli and several other brilliant artists to Firestarters and to reveal BBC Radio 3’s New Music Show will be broadcast live from The Fire Station in March as part of the programme – which is a real coup for us.”

The BBC Radio 3 event will be a late-night gig of cutting-edge, avant-garde music and sound art by leading artists from the North East curated by the station and hosted by New Music Show’s presenters.

Also announced as part of the programme are cult Japanese drumming troupe Kodo who bring their breathtaking Kodo One Earth Tour Tsuzumi to the auditorium as part of their 40th anniversary tour (Wednesday, February 16).

The Kodo drummers are known throughout the world and their hugely successful, dynamic shows combine Japanese ritual with punishing displays of physical endurance and musicality.

Kodo have also managed to tap into Western appetites for ecumenical, New Age spirituality.

Other exciting Firestarters shows just announced include:

  • Go Now! The Music of the Moody Blues (Friday, March 4) – This show is a tribute to the greatest classic rock band of a generation – recently inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Join Gordy Marshall, who played drums with The Moody Blues for 25 years, and Mick Wilson, lead singer of 10cc, as they recreate the magnificence of a Moody Blues concert at The Fire Station.
  • The Wilson Family (Friday, March 18) – The powerful vocal harmonies of the Teesside Wilson brothers will ring out as they bring their traditional music sung with deep understanding, great joy and humour. The Wilson Family will be joined by special guest Holly Clarke.
  • Bill Laurance (Wednesday, March 23) – A special night for funk and jazz lovers when four-time Grammy-winning pianist and composer Bill takes to the stage with his trio. Bill came to prominence with New York-based jazz collective Snarky Puppy and as an expressive composer and band leader continues to explore a range of sounds and ensemble combinations.
  • Dispatches on the Red Dress (Sunday, March 27) – An intimate and courageous new show by BBC Radio 2 Folk Award-winning songwriter, Rowan Rheingans which will weave immersive storytelling with live fiddle, banjo and songs taken from her new solo album The Lines We Draw Together (The Guardian’s Folk Album of the Month).
  • Flook (Friday, April 29) – Taking inspiration from their roots in Irish and English traditions, Flook have an enviable trademark sound, weaving traditionally rooted tunes over precise acoustic grooves, with a rare blend of fiery technical brilliance.
  • 100% SOUL! (Saturday, April 30) – Timeless Soul and Motown classics from the outstanding Voices of Virtue Gospel Choir, with their full band and brass section, alongside DJ support from Tommy Caulker (WHQ Club). Originally created for the Great Exhibition of the North back in 2018, this outstanding classic live Soul Revue sold out Sage Gateshead, multiple dates at Sunderland’s Bonded Warehouse and has now toured far and wide, selling out Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Tickets for Emeli and the new additions to the Firestarters programme go on sale this Wednesday (November 10).

As well as providing a perfect platform for professional, established artists, The Fire Station aims to provide a showcase for community talent.

So, from Monday, February 21 to Saturday, February 26 (half-term week) the venue will throw open its doors for Open House.

Performers of all types, backgrounds, ages and experience are invited to be among the first to grace the stage at the brand-new music and performance venue.

If you want to be part of Open House, please visit to find out more and how to apply.

For more information about all other events and to buy tickets please head to or follow @FireStationSun.

The Firestarters opening programme is commissioned by Sunderland Music Arts and Culture Trust and supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.