Songs of Freedom at The Warren

posterWhat a fantastic three days working alongside MC and song writer Redeye and DJ and Liam van Rijn on The Warren Young People’s Centre’s ‘Songs of Freedom’ project. The aim was to give young people an opportunity to tell their story through music, song-writing and performance. It was a bold creative fight-back against government cuts and youth poverty and 35 brilliant 16-25 year-old young people joined in.

We had loads of fun over the 3 days exploring protest songs, challenging issues and discussing how to make a difference using music and lyrics. There were people with all kinds of music interests and experience – hip hop, metal, punk, ska, djs, mcs – you name it – and there was a fantastic vibe throughout the project with everyone supporting each other. There were some superb discussion groups and lots of time to develop songwriting, musicianship, lyrics, recording, vocal and performance skills.

After a day of working on ideas, beats, songs and lyrics we went into the Warren studio and recorded four tracks. It was a real collaboration and full of inspiration. Dozens of different young people contributed to the tracks, beats, riffs, bass, guitars, lyrics, raps, freestyle, singing,  harmony vocals and being part of the production team.

Scroll through the gallery to see the full picture…

Have a listen to one of the awesome tracks featuring a host of young people here:


These ace quotes from the project evaluation give you some idea of what it was like:

Brilliant musicians
Brilliant musicians in the studio

Throughout the three days the project has fulfilled its aims of bringing young people from different communities together to explore revolutionary, reactionary songs. The process has supported them to understand the potential and power of the spoken/sung/mc word and explore new and different genres of music. The team of music and creative writing tutors supported young people to produce original pieces of music/sound and use this as a back drop to their life stories. Each young person had an eight bar slot to challenge what is happening to them, working collectively to create a poetry slam against the extreme unfairness that is happening to them.

MCs in the studio
MCs in the studio

Young people’s Stories
One young woman’s MC lyrics challenged Parliaments detachment from the issues people are facing. Another young man challenged the too few opportunities available to young people, while another young man rapped a full biography on the impact that poverty had on his life.

MCing and lyric writing workshop – 12 young people attended today’s sessions – 7 of these brought ideas and draft lyrics they wanted to work on as potential material. This workshop worked very quickly with completed lyrics that angrily challenged the cuts and government policy. 3 of the MCs are now ready to work closely with the D J producer, MC tutor and sound engineer to lay down tracks in the morning.

Ysabelle and Liam, cool cucumbers in the studio
Ysabelle and Liam, cool cucumbers in the studio

DJing and Producing workshop DJ tutor worked hard to engage 5 young people who listen to primarily banging tunes (hard core) was able to encourage them through a process that supported them to listen to Bob Dylan’s angry war song. DJ producer encouraged young people to mix different genres of music and speeches (Massive attack, Martin Luther King and Nina Simon) while supporting another young person who suffers from Psychosis to free style (improvise a rap) ‘I just want to me’ over the top.

Seven young women used the recording studio for the first time, gaining the confidence sing cover songs with the view to develop riffs that will be incorporated into the Songs of Freedom track.

MCing, Singing, Instrumental, Recording and Producing Workshop – Day 2 – An astounding day!

22 young people involved in a collaborative mix creating 4 different tracks and developing their base, guitar, drums, Mcing, singing, recording, producing skills. This created different genres of sound for a multitude of different young people’s stories to be told (spoken, sung and Mc).

MC, Singing, Recording and Producing Workshop – Day 3 – Another great day!

Liam at the helm and Tin Tin in the hot seat
Liam at the helm and Tin Tin in the hot seat

‘The amount and quality of work achieved here and the way people have worked together has been fantastic. Young people have been part of the collaboration, welcoming each other’s contributions and supporting each other to be confident in what they have to say’. 18 year old producer.

‘A really good project, I thought I was going to be nervous but it was easy I was able to just pick up the base and guitar and just play in front of everyone. Young person 19

Everyone generated a lot of ideas and freely shared them supporting everyone to have a voice. ‘I am impressed by the ideas that young people created and the teams approach to the process.’ Rupert Creed – Freedom To Tell Tales (observer)

‘I didn’t feel I had to change my style to take part in this and the end product is brilliant … this needs to happen again’ Young person.

‘Felt comfortable enough to relay a really personal story when I MCed in front of people I have only just met…a young woman sang a brilliant back sound to the track after hearing it just once’ Young man 22

‘’Creating music and songs not only makes you feel good, but can be a fantastic channel to make a difference to the world we live in. I was delighted to be part of  the Warren’s Songs of Freedom and amazed by the fabulous ideas and new music from the young people who joined in’’

What an awesome feelgood project – bring on the next time!

Thanks to all at The Warren – Lisa Wedgner, project lead and Can Do Coordinator, Stew Baxter Music and Ysabelle Wombwell,  Warren Records and studio.

Lou Duffy-Howard