In June 2015, Music in Detention delivered a Community Exchange project with a series of 8 participatory music making workshops for detainees at Dover IRC and participants from Porchlight, a local charity providing services for homeless and vulnerable people. Lucky Moyo and Oliver Seager from Music for Change facilitated the workshops, bringing their respective expertise in African singing and drumming; hip-hop and production, to the project. Lucky and Oliver would spend the afternoon at the IRC before going on to Porchlight in the evening, to work with service users there. Musical material produced at each location was taken between the two groups by the artists, allowing participants to share messages, lyrics and beats, without ever meeting face to face.
The project brought together musical traditions from all over the world, creating fusion tracks sung in several different languages featuring a variety of musical genres. Lyrics and song titles were explained so that everyone in the group could understand the message of each track of music, for example one detainee explained that the song Gur Naal Ishq Mitha means "Love is sweeter than sugar".
Shared themes emerged from both groups such as hope, freedom and never giving up. Both groups could empathise with the situations each were in and showed support and warmth to one another. The project has also encouraged many of the participants to continue with music, with several keen for their friends and families to hear this finished CD.
Selected tracks were performed in Dover Market Square on Saturday 13th June at the launch of the Refugee Tales walk, organised by Gatwick Detainee Welfare Group. A crowd of 50 or so watched Lucky and Oliver perform the tracks live, supported by the recorded voices of detainees and Porchlight participants.
Music In Detention works with immigration detainees, bringing them together with professional musicians and local communities to share, create and enjoy music, enabling often-ignored voices to be heard in new ways.
Music for Change is a leading educational arts organisation, committed to promoting awareness, understanding and respect for cultural diversity. Working with skilled artists from around the world, the charity encourages people to celebrate cultural diversity whilst challenging preconceptions and prejudice.
"I enjoyed attending the music session. It was something different that I have not done before. I was made to feel relaxed and comfortable and found it very lively and uplifting."
Nicola, Participant from Porchlight
"For me when I came to the session my mood changed straight away because I've seen djembe drums, and it's been a while since I don't see djembe, 3 years I haven't seen a djembe with my eyes, so seeing it, playing it and jamming with other people, it was amazing. I just want them to come back."
Detainee from Dover IRC
Album recorded and produced by Oliver Seager, Lucky Moyo & Jonathan Russell
All tracks created by participants from Porchlight & Dover IRC