A celebration of lives and communities through music
*PUBLIC TO HELP BUILD A MUSIC MAP OF THE COUNTRY*
Website live and public song submissions from 25 January 2021
Premieres of first County Song commissions 23 March 2021
A Song for Us celebrates our community and the power of music to bring us together. With the public’s help, we want to create a music map of the country to mark this challenging time. From 25 January, the public can share a favourite song that holds special meaning from this period on asongforus.org. Budding songsmiths anywhere are also invited to create and upload original songs that capture their experience of the pandemic. Last but not least, new County Songs by leading songwriters and composers will be premiered on asongforus.org from 23 March 2021, the first anniversary of lockdown 1.
A nationwide project, A Song for Us commissions leading music creators across genres to write new songs inspired by the people of their county. This Is The Kit & Bucky (Bristol), Gavin Bryars (East Riding), Seth Lakeman (Devon), Skinny Pelembe (South Yorkshire) and Gwenno (Cornwall) have written the first in a series of County Songs. Performed by local ensembles, these first commissions will premiere from 23 March 2021 on asongforus.org.
The project brings Sound UK and regional arts partners together to co-commission musicians to create a work that resonates with the public. Each has been chosen because of a connection to their county. Folk singer-songwriter Seth Lakeman lives on Dartmoor, Devon; Johannesburg born Skinny Pelembe was raised in Doncaster; Goole born composer Gavin Bryars is still a member of Goole Town FC; Bristol born This is the Kit with Bristol band Bucky; Welsh-Cornish singer-songwriter Gwenno. Partners range from local arts venues to rural touring schemes: Higher Rhythm, Junction, Goole, Hall for Cornwall, Carn to Cove, IntoBodmin, Exeter Phoenix, Beaford Arts and Villages in Action.
A Song for Us recognises the positive role community choirs and ensembles play in keeping people connected. The commissioned songs will be written for and performed by one, or a collective of local choirs, ensembles or orchestras. For example, Gavin Bryars’ song is composed for the Armthorpe Elmfield Brass Band and local community choir Read’s Warblers. In Bristol This is the Kit’s song will be performed by The Fantasy Orchestra. Each A Song for Us commission will be performed locally and available online as a film for up to 12 months.
A Song for Us aims to expand across the country, commissioning another ten composers through regional partnerships, announced in Spring 2021. These additional new songs will be premiered each month from June 2021 to March 2022.
A Song for Us celebrates our community during the COVID 19 pandemic. It seeks to encapsulate the coming together and solidarity that was apparent during the clap for the NHS. The extraordinary response to the NHS volunteer army. The individuals and small cafes making free meals for children. It recognises the nationwide losses we have experienced, whether at a distance or personally. Above all it celebrates the power of music to bring us together, whether as creators, performers or listeners.
ABOUT THE COMPOSERS:
BRISTOL: This is The Kit & Bucky. This Is the Kit is the musical project of Kate Stables. One of time and change and careful listening. It has carried Stables from Winchester to Bristol to Paris (where she’s lived for the last 15 years), and across tours and festivals around the world. Her fourth album Moonshine Freeze was nominated for an Ivor Novello award in 2017 . In early spring of 2020, just before everything got weird, Kate and her band of trusty companions, (Rozi Plain, Jamie Whitby-Coles, Jesse D Vernon, and Neil Smith), knuckled down to record what would become This is The Kit’s fifth album Off Off On. It was released in October to huge acclaim with the Independent naming them “One of the most original and musically gifted artists of today’. For A Song for Us, Kate will collaborate with primitive ‘power-duo’ from Bristol Bucky, who have been going for ages and were once described as sounding ‘like Billy Childish meets Ren & Stimpy’.
EAST RIDING: Gavin Bryars. Born in Goole and still a season ticket holder for Goole Town FC, Bryars has continually shunned convention, treading his own distinctive and unique path. Starting as a jazz bassist and pioneer of free improvisation with Derek Bailey and Tony Oxley, he worked with John Cage in the late 60s. Early iconic pieces The Sinking of the Titanic and Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet achieved great popular success. Since this time Bryars has composed four operas, a large body of chamber music, several concertos and much vocal music. He has collaborated with international artists across the spectrum from Merce Cunningham and William Forsyth to Juan Muñoz and Robert Wilson. The Gavin Bryars Ensemble and GB Records continue to document his work. Serene, graceful and achingly beautiful, his music is characterised by a sense of contemplation that is revealed through harmony of underlying depth.
DEVON: Seth Lakeman Multi award-winning folk singer Seth Lakeman released his new album A Pilgrim’s Tale in early 2020, a year that marks four centuries since The Mayflower ship departed the UK. Seth was raised and still lives on Dartmoor, within sight of the sea at Plymouth, from where the Puritans sailed on the Mayflower in 1620. Since the Mercury Prize nominated Kitty Jay (recorded in his kitchen for £300), the follow-up gold selling Freedom Fields Seth has relentlessly pushed his musical boundaries and those of folk and roots music. He has been touring around the world for the last couple of years with rock legend Robert Plant, playing as part of his band The Sensational Space Shifters as well as playing shows with his own band and solo.
SOUTH YORKSHIRE: Skinny Pelembe is a multi-talented wonder, born in Johannesburg and raised in Doncaster. He released debut album Dreaming Is Dead Now in May 2019, with support from BBC 6 Music’s, BBC Radio 1 and Worldwide FM. In 2020 Blue Note asked some of the top British names in music to rework songs from their legendary back catalogue. Skinny’s version of Andrew Hill’s cult classic Illusion was chosen as one of the singles from the Blue Note Reimagined album. His varied approach to his influences started early on. His two older brothers were heavily into hip-hop, while he would also absorb the West Coast folk and country music played by his dad. The former influences the way he thinks about his lyrics. The latter continues to inform the way he writes songs.
CORNWALL: Gwenno. Gwenno Saunders is a Welsh-Cornish musician and conceptual artist . Her interest lies in exploring the cultural and linguistic identities of Britain through popular song. As a Welsh and Cornish speaker she has released two critically acclaimed albums Y Dydd Olaf (2015) and Le Kov (2018) in Welsh and Cornish, respectively on Heavenly Recordings and is currently recording her third due to be released in 2021.