Between January to March Group A, our youth groups for 8 to 18s living in challenging circumstances in Ipswich and Lowestoft, had a fantastic time exploring music that was new and unfamiliar to them. The groups work with a core team of artists throughout the year, including a funk soul singer called Aga Serugo-Lugo, a classically trained opera singer and two singer-songwriters. But 2019 began with a different flavour as we invited new artists to work collaboratively with this core team to challenge our participants to explore something completely different.
In January the groups worked with Martin Hanson, a Ghanain drummer and vocalist, to learn some West-African tunes. They learnt to play djembes and sing together and worked on moving and expression in their performances. In February, they were joined by Will Roberts and Joe Allen and learnt some Samba. They enjoyed learning and creating their own Samba breaks and learnt some fantastic tunes. In Ipswich the group headed out into the town centre to perform a flashmob that took shoppers by surprise! Finally in March both groups worked with Esther Farinde, an Essex-based Gospel singer. The group enjoyed learning 'Blinded by your Grace' (Stormzy) as well as learning to ad lib and improvise.
For lots of our participants, these sessions were a real introduction to other cultures and thier music and it was a really enriching experience for them. We found our young people were curious to find out more and responded well to working with new artists and developing new skills. The core team of artists also had a chance to explore and share their practice with new artists, and these self-contained days (in comparison to our usual termly projects) were perfect for the nature of our youth groups where many participants are only able to 'drop in and out' due to personal circumstances.