Set Me Free (Wipe Your Tears)
pop, pop rock, hip hop, flute, rap
The starting point for this whole project was the premise of unheard voices. The students in Harbour School were asked to explore what they felt was important; the messages they wanted to be heard.
The group came up with some great ideas, going deep very quickly in exploring the notion of being a 'social reject' (being out of mainstream education), questioning the notion of what is 'normal' (issues of societal expectation, peer pressure etc), and exploring the perspective of what life might be like as an adult rather than feeling 'imprisoned' in school.
The youngest student (11 yrs old) was keen to write a song against child abuse, with lyrics such as 'I'm a person too'. His musical references were pop and pop rock, so from the first session the music was configured to sit in this framework, whilst still being appealing to detainees who tend to have more of a hip hop sensibility. His engagement was a real success of the project, since at first he didn't want to sing or even get involved too much. After a number of weeks, he became fully engaged and gained enough confidence not only to write lyrics but also to record his voice.
All of the detainees involved in the project firstly resonated witht he music. We had multiple contributors on the music, from rappers and singers to guitarists, and an excellent flautist from Pakistan who used a wooden flute usually kept in a cupboard at Haslar. In fact we had more contributions than we could use, and the challenge was to make a call on which ones 'told the story' best. Indeed, all the detainees resonated with the depth of the student's 'real talk' too. None of us knew if the student had personal experience of these issues, but his message is very poignant. The detainees therefore wanted to respond by providing a message of solidarity and support; they wanted to encourage him and others like him: 'stand back, be strong, we will make it'.