My creative self consciously began to express myself in many artistic forms in 1974. I have written about 300 songs and poems, ranging from gospel, to nyahbinghi and roots, lovers, and contemporary lamentations. I have a collection of about 45 pieces of original art, my favourite medium being gouache-on-paper, with acrylic-on-canvas appearing on a near horizon.
Over the past four decades (and a bit more) I’ve also initiated and been involved with a wide range of arts related activities, artists, practitioners, and other talented creative’s.
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Here are some of my arts and music highlights from the past four decades:
1999 – 2015 (ongoing)
o Worked extensively on the Loughborough Creative’s exhibition, in collaboration with 198 and local artists, film makers, writers, and jewellery makers. Our current priority is to establish a place making festival of community arts and culture, including fundraising and development.
o Capacity building, community development and fundraising with several youth led music business and production projects and training initiatives.
o Worked with The Brick Box and Fresh Media, social enterprises involved in bringing outsider art, theatre, drama, and film to grass roots communities in non-traditional venues, community centre’s, and market places.
o Independent Advisor at the London Arts Board, supporting several community and third sector arts organizations in developing information and approaches for the submission of successful bids to the Regional Arts Lottery Programme.
1984 – 1998
o Officer in Wandsworth Council Arts Office, coordinating administration and programming, this included running the Wandsworth Festival box office, producing, reviewing and proof reading publicity information, liaising with artists and curating exhibitions in Battersea District Library, borough wide competitions and the management of events for senior citizens. I am particularly proud of the Ancestral Presence exhibition, a collaboration with my self on poetry, Ken Yahw McCalla on sculpture, and Alvin Ferris on multi-media visual arts. Awesome!!!
o Tutored therapeutic sewing classes for Social Services contracts at the Refugee Support Centre, including fundraising for purchase of equipment and resources.
o Company Administrator at Black Vision Colour Video Productions, Administration and Publicity Officer for Umoja Theatre Company national tours and venue based productions, Coordinator of Harmony Community Theatre, and was involved costumes, set design, marketing and promotion for theatre productions at Brixton Village St Matthews.
o Developed, planned, programmed and facilitated arts and cultural activities and entertainment events for social enterprises, youth organizations and community groups, including film, drama, music, dance, arts and crafts. Includes organizing and performing at two annual seminars and concerts for the Black Students Collective at Bulmershe College in Reading.
o One time member of the first Brixton Arts Collective exhibiting works in local venues, singer songwriter and performance poet, appeared in a number of Apples and Snakes poetry gigs, and jam session with local musicians and recording studios.
1974 – 1983
o Strong Pentecostal upbringing in the New Testament Church of God, one of the co-founders of music group – The Zionites, and a member of the youth gospel choir. Writer of plays as well as poetry, wrote and co-produced songs and melodies for the group and the choir. Designed and made outfits for the group, the choir, and for plays and performances at local and national conventions. I still have a love for original design, dressing making, and gospel music.
o One time member of the first Brixton Arts Collective, exhibiting works in local venues. I also designed and coordinated cultural activities for holiday projects and after school programmes.
o Ever stronger inroads as a singer songwriter and performance poet, appeared in a number of Apples and Snakes poetry gigs, rehearsal and jam sessions with local musicians and recording studios.
o At school I took part in drama workshops, had my poetry read at school assembly, and was on the organizing committee for an end of year celebration. Academically my proudest moment was achieving Grade B in ‘O’ Level Law at the age of 15. But an even prouder moment was when I won an all London schools competition for short story writing.
The competition was sponsored by the Inner London Education Authority and the Jamaica Tourist Board. Along with the winner of the art competition and our two teachers acting as chaperones, we were off on an all expenses paid 2 week 4 star trip to Jamaica for Christmas and new year 1974/5.
The highlight of the trip itself – apart from the joy of meeting my Jamaican family, the scenery, the beautiful beaches, the hotels, and the lovely people, was breakfast with the heavy weight boxer Muhammad Ali (he had not long changed his name from Cassius Clay) and his entourage when he was invited to receive the symbolic Key to the City of Kingston. Just fabulous!!!