In the last few months, the music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall has commissioned five Black Birmingham artists to create musical responses on the theme of racism, individual and systemic.
The brand-new music from Reuben James, Romarna Campbell and Xhosa Cole was featured on Jazz FM, the UK's largest jazz media celebrating the broad spectrum of jazz, soul and blues across the UK and the world. Following it's first air play, radio presenter China Moses selected Reuben's piece 'Seasons Change' as her Late Night Track of the Week.
Ashley Allen and Namywa's commissions were broadcast on Facebook and YouTube as part of a series of digital performances filmed at the world-renowned Symphony Hall. Digital broadcasts from the iconic concert hall in the last three months have amassed over 200,000 views.
Today three more Black Birmingham musicians have been announced to continue this series of brand-new music.
Trumpet player Alex Polack is about to start a Bachelor of Music Jazz Course at Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London. The young musician has grown up in Birmingham, developing his musical skills with Town Hall Symphony Hall's Jazzlines programme, The Notebenders Big Band, Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra, Birmingham Music Service Bands and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
David Austin Grey
David Austin Grey is a UK based pianist, composer and educator working across multiple musical disciplines. He has worked throughout the UK and performed internationally, including residencies and collaborations in Brazil, The United States and South Asia. His most long-standing group 'Hansu-Tori' has received national press and radio play (BBC Radio 3, Jazzwise Magazine, Jazz FM, BBC Introducing, The Observer, BBC WM and BBC Radio Scotland).
A graduate of The University of Birmingham and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire; David has worked with such well-respected artists and institutions as Birmingham Royal Ballet, British Council, Courtney Pine, Eliza Shaddad, Freya Roy, Soweto Kinch, Xhosa Cole, Michael League, Black Voices and Snarky Puppy. He has also supported GRAMMY-winning artists Marcus Miller, Terri-Lyne Carrington and Snarky Puppy.
Vocalist, songwriter and pianist Indigo, is an exceptionally versatile artist embracing jazz, blues and neo soul. Expressing a love for music at an early age, her training started at age seven with classical piano. Heavily influenced by her father’s eclectic taste in music and her roots in church, Indigo has established herself as one of the Midlands top jazz vocalists.
Nominated for an MVISA Best Soundtrack and Commended at the New York International Festival, her song ‘Blown Away’ featured in the Film ‘Day One’, winner of the Best International Film Audience Award.
With a voice that is both mellow and moving, Indigo breathes life into her own nu-jazz originals as well as classic jazz standards.
Her career has seen her performing in the UK and abroad as a solo artist and with internationally acclaimed groups including Black Voices and Odyssey.
The Black Lives Matter protest in Birmingham were praised by West Midlands Police as 4,000 attended the peaceful demonstration in June. Since then, Birmingham-based artist Mohammed Ali painted a tribute in several locations across the city bearing George Floyd’s final words. The new music commissioned from the music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall amplifies black musicians voices and creates an opportunity for their experiences of racial inequality to be heard.
Central to Town Hall Symphony Hall's Jazzlines programme is its work supporting the creative and professional development of artists throughout their career. Commissioning new work, such as this, is one way of doing so.
Town Hall Symphony Hall's Jazzlines is a PRS Foundation Talent Development Partner and supported by Arts Council England under the National Portfolio Organisation scheme.
PRS Foundation supports organisations from across the UK which have been selected as PRS Foundation Talent Development Partners. These organisations are working at the frontline of talent development in the UK, supporting a broad range of individual music creators across different music genres and UK regions. This reflects PRS Foundation’s commitment to supporting composers and songwriters of all backgrounds either through direct investment or by helping organisations which nurture music creators and promote their music to audiences at home and overseas.
The Arts Council (ACE) is the national development agency for creativity and culture. By 2030 ACE want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. Between 2018 and 2022, ACE will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help deliver this vision.
Jazzlines is also supported by other generous individuals and organisations.