Reflections on being part of the support network helping a learning disabled artist to reach a mainstream audience
Daniel Wakeford is a talented learning disabled singer / songwriter based in Brighton. I became aware of his musical talents some years ago when i started working for Carousel, a learning disability arts charity based in Brighton. Daniel's recent show stealing appearances on the Channel 4 programme 'the undateables' has seen him charm the nation. Initially the programme focused on Daniel's quest to find love but as the story has unfolded his musical career has started to gain more and more interest from the public.
Daniel has been co-writing songs for many years now with local musician and music facilitator Tom Cook. The latest album 'The Songs of Gigs' has been released by Carousel, it features a collection of these songs. Something very exciting happened recently when several of these songs started climbing the spotify viral charts until they were all occupying places in the top ten. A team of Carousel music facilitators including myself had already embarked on helping Daniel bring these songs to a live band format.
A series of requests for gigs followed and 'The Daniel Wakeford Experience' band has now ventured out and played several times to mainstream audiences. I feel very lucky to be part of the team supporting Daniel and seeing his story unfold. Most of the shows have been selling out and the interest in his music is growing steadily. He has an amazing, unique perspective and authenticity which comes across effortlessly when he engages audiences.
His learning disability affects his vocabulary and grammar but his lyrics are truly insightful and all the more powerful for these unique qualities. He sings about subjects such as his home town, his search for love and even classical composer Beethoven!
Daniel is now poised to make even more of an impact as next week he will play Brighton's annual music conference event 'The Great Escape' and there are several shows in the calendar after that.
I was talking to a gig goer after the recent show in Salford and he made some very interesting observations; He said that Daniel's appeal spans so many different types of audience. Many people may have initially seen him on the TV, but his appeal also seems to include underground music enthusiasts, young and older people, punks, folkies, etc.
Everyone loves a success story against the odds and his audience is united in celebrating Daniel's wonderfully catchy songs and unaffected self expression. He really is the most natural performer with a deep rooted sense of self belief and conviction to entertain. He said the other day during sound-check that we needed to play well because 'this is what he does, it's his job'
I'm very proud of Daniel's achievements, please check out his music here: