Freedom Road Re-imagined immersive live music performance tour launches this month with stops including Canterbury, London and the finale show in Margate.
The Freedom Road Project Black-led heritage and arts organisation and tour is led by Ramsgate jazz singer, promoter and founder Sabina Desir and musician Jessica Lauren.
It initially featured at Turner Contemporary and Olby’s Soul Cafe during the 2020 Power of Women Festival.
The tour uses the combined art forms of live music, photography and filmed footage with focus drawn to the resilience, determination and pride of Black British communities.
Freedom Road presents an intergenerational perspective of protest through the lens of esteemed photographers Charlie Phillips and Vanley Burke and young photographer Shaïny Vilo.
Both Phillips and Burke work to document the fight for civil rights by Black and Asian people in the UK. The show’s visuals draw the audience into times both past and present when the collective and individual voice is used as a force for change.
Sabrina says the show is a tribute to these activists as well as a celebration of the tenacity and drive of Black British communities.
Central to the show is the music, a soundscape of Black innovation, yaking the audience through an early classical Gospel field recording, Blues, Soul, Neo-Soul and Afrofuturist. Music associated with the US and UK Civil Rights Movement has been arranged with sensitivity and passion and contains pieces that became and remain some of the most important of the 20th Century.
Many of the band members, some of the UK’s finest Jazz players, are direct descendants of the Windrush generation including the show’s producer and artistic director Sabina.
Intercut with the music and stunning visuals is the recorded voice of Taariq Forder. Taariq brings his lived-in Black British experience, enriching the telling of an intergenerational conflict.
The artists from cross – cultural and multi – generational backgrounds aim to bring positivity, musicianship and storytelling to a show described as moving, defiant and joyful all at once.
The Freedom Road Project produces works which explore the heritage of Black communities alongside the themes of race, identity and belonging. The organisation is committed to doing this inclusively and believes that shared experiences enrich communities.
Sabina said: “Our vision is to bring people together through arts and heritage to change perceptions of communities who have been othered and to re-tell stories inclusively through performance, music and art.
‘We feel a great sense of responsibility to represent both this momentous time and that of the historic struggle with diligence, passion and respect through the medium of art.
“This is the first tour produced by ‘Freedom Road Project’. It’s been hard work making this a reality but incredibly rewarding. I know the ancestors have my back and I am doing exactly what I am meant to be doing.
“I am so grateful for the support I have received which has come in many forms, hands on contributions and words of belief and encouragement. I appreciate them all!
“We are one week away from the first show at the Colyer-Fergusson Hall, Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury.
“Jessica Lauren and I began work on the project in Autumn 2019 and we are both humbled and proud to share it.”
March 19 Gulbenkian, Canterbury
March 24 Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton
April 2 Rich Mix, London
April 22 Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts, Brighton
May 7 Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham ( part of the Commonwealth Games Cultural Contribution launch)
June 4 The Lighthouse, Poole Dorset
August 4 Margate Soul Festival, Margate Winter Gardens
Sabina Desir – Vocalist
Jessica Lauren – Keyboards/ Musical Director
Jason Yarde – Saxophone
Winston Clifford – Drums
Ivan Hussey – Cello
Jason Simpson – Bass
Taariq Forder – Recorded Voice/Actor
Tamar Osborn – Woodwinds ( Rich Mix London, Midlands Arts Centre Birmingham, Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts Brighton, Margate Soul Festival, Margate Winter Gardens )
Lascelle Gordon – Percussion (Rich Mix London)
Vanley Burke – Photographer
Charlie Phillips – Photographer
Shaïny Vilo – Photographer
Richard Birch – Photographer
Nathan Jones – Filmed Footage/Editor