ARTICLE: New Hope, New Beginnings
June 15th 2022, Streatham Space Project, Streatham, London
Lockdown was a time of reflection as well as a time of many challenges, especially for musicians and artists. With this in mind, Celebrate Life applied to the LetsCreate fund from Arts Council England for an event themed on hope, featuring a selection of work generated over lockdown. The event tied in with many others across the country to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
We were over the moon to hear our bid was successful, and wasted no time crafting an event that showcased creativity as an agent for peace. We chose to host the event at a chic, modern venue in Streatham Hill called Streatham Space Project. The event was named ‘New Hope, New Beginnings’ and featured local talent, rappers, singers, film and dance. It was free and promoted locally, making it accessible to the whole community and especially those who may have struggled during lockdown due to the lack of human connection.
Our MC for the evening was Wayne James, Programme Manager & Lead Facilitator from local charity Spiral Skills. Wayne introduced each act with his unique style and panache giving the audience a little of each artist’s back story.
First up was a local young spoken-word artist Abdul Lelo who read his poem about peer pressure and how easy it is for young people to make bad choices.
Next was Prospect Panther, a talented musician and rapper with a riveting set, followed by dynamic duo Raga and Liwa who performed their own style of hip-hop/R&B.
As hope was an important part of the evening we wanted to get a local perspective on the meaning of the word. Two weeks earlier we had invited a mix of people to a studio in Brixton and asked them about hope while the cameras rolled. Dartsia, a young mother recently arrived from the war in Ukraine, said ‘hope is the safety boat, the last stop before despair.’
Our youngest star at just six years old, was King, who clearly stated ‘all of these bad things should stop. We need peace. We need to enjoy our lives'; our oldest interviewee was an 86-year-old veteran, living with PTSD, who described a pivotal moment when he discovered meaning in life.
Many of the people in the video came to the event and everyone was moved by the expressions in the short film. You can see it for yourself here: https://youtu.be/dvw4zguM__w
The Hope video set the scene for what followed: an exquisite, dramatic performance from two Brazilian artists: Adriano Adewale and Carolina Paulino. Adriano, a master percussionist, conjured up other-worldly rhythms and sounds brought to life by Carolina, a dancer trained in classical ballet, contemporary, and traditional Afro-Brazilian dance. The piece was choreographed to the words of Prem Rawat, author and peace educator who travels the world sharing his unique perspective on life. This performance had the audience spellbound!
Covid-19 meant that our next act couldn’t make it, but luckily Muntu Valdo was free to stand in and deliver his own brand of Blues/Folk music from Cameroon.
The grand finale for the evening was Namvula and her quartet. Namvula comes from Zambian/Scottish heritage and weaves together global soundscapes inspired by her African roots. The rhythms and hypnotic melodies had everyone up dancing - the house was packed, spirits were soaring, and the positive feedback we got from guests was overwhelming. Such a fitting way to move forward from lockdown to New Beginnings.
Photos by Christina Jansen