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Girl Power - A Change Is Gonna Come: Music For Human Rights

Artwork by Annette Brecker

This month, four musical majesties will be coming together for a unique collaboration. Carleen Anderson, Nikki Yeoh, Nubya Garcia and Speech Debelle will be performing interpretations of protest songs, dating from those produced during the Civil Rights movement, to contemporary pieces, in an exploration of the power of music in this context. They will be leading a band of similarly impressive artists: bassist Rennell Shaw (Rudimental, Skepta, Nitin Sawhney) and drummer Rod Youngs (Gil Scott Heron, Hugh Masekela, Courtney Pine, Jocelyn Brown).

Life translated in art throughout the ages, in Greek Mythology, Shakespeare and various expressionistic forms have always addressed the issues of the inequities in social and political power. Whilst contemporary creatives who speak out against injustice are sometimes influenced by a commercially beneficial objective, in grateful contrast are those artists who, as ever, are compelled by a Universal incentive to be a reminder of the equal opportunities yet to be addressed and achieved. Carleen Anderson (via SoundUK)

Art must not be anodyne, culture cannot be decorative, artists should challenge the most powerful in our society; if we do not, we are not doing our job properly. We often associate the protest song with the civil rights movement and the 60’s counter-culture, however its roots stem from injustice and inequality which manifests its self indiscriminately across all borders and cultures, it never seems to fade from the human condition. Nikki Yeoh (via SoundUK)

A Change Is Gonna Come will be performed on three dates around the UK:

Meet the ladies

Biographies from SoundUK

Born in Texas, Mercury-nominated Carleen Anderson was reared on the sounds of the Pentecostal Gospel church where her Grandfather was pastor, and whose family was friends with Martin Luther King. Her University of Southern California music scholarship paved the way for global recognition after moving across the Atlantic to the UK in 1990 to become the lead singer and composer of The Young Disciples. She is known for her role as featured vocalist with The Brand New Heavies, Incognito, Dr. John, Ramsey Lewis, Nigel Kennedy, Paul Weller and more. Her ambitious Cage Street Memorial project traces 100 years of family life and national politics in a critically acclaimed album, book and live ‘tribal opera’, recently performed at the Barbican to high praise.

Since her emergence on the British jazz scene in the mid-90s, pianist Nikki Yeoh has proved to be an improviser, composer and all-round adventurer who has continually sought to broaden her musical horizons. She has led her own bands in venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, performed with DJ Pogo, Neneh Cherry and The Roots and composed works for John Surman and Joanna MacGregor. Nikki received The Jazz FM Instrumentalist of the Year Award 2017 for her long awaited solo album Solo Gemini.

Speech Debelle is a rapper and musician from South London, probably best known for winning the Mercury Music Prize for her debut album, Speech Therapy (2009), most of which was co-produced by Big Dada label mate Wayne Lotek. In 2012 she released her second album, Freedom of Speech, this time with production from Kwes (Warp). She has also been politically and socially active with a number of charities and movements, and hosted the BBC documentary Hidden Homeless.

London-based saxophonist and composer, Nubya Garcia, is one of the leading forces behind the resurgence of jazz-influenced sounds in the UK. Nubya has recently played Worldwide Festival, Ronnie Scott’s, Brazil’s Urubu Sessions with Jazz re:freshed and British Underground, and began 2018 at Winter Jazz Fest. Last year she was awarded the Steve Reid Foundation Award and released her debut recording with Jazz re:freshed. Nubya is also involved with bands Maisha, Nérija, Theon Cross Trio, Joe Armon Jones’ & Maxwell Owins’ Idiom amongst other projects.

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