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Exploring the power of protest songs
Four gifted soul, jazz and hip-hop artists – Carleen Anderson, Nikki Yeoh, Speech Debelle and Nubya Garcia – will explore the power of protest songs at a special show entitled A Change Is Gonna Come at Birmingham Town Hall on May 29, 2018.
On stage together for the first time, the quartet will perform their own interpretations of iconic songs from the time of the civil rights through to today. Alongside such classics as Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come and Gill-Scott Heron's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised will be new compositions by Carleen and Nikki, highlighting the on-going fight for equal human rights.
Also on stage will be bassist Renell Shaw, who has collaborated, recorded and toured alongside artists such as Rudimental, Skepta, Nitin Sawhney, and drummer Rod Youngs, who has played with Gil Scott Heron, Hugh Masekela, Courtney Pine, Sia, Jocelyn Brown and Jazz Jamaica All Stars.
Born in Texas, Mercury-nominated Carleen was reared on the sounds of the Pentecostal Gospel church where her grandfather was pastor and whose family was friends with Martin Luther King. Her University of Southern California music scholarship paved the way for global recognition after moving across the Atlantic to the UK in 1990 to become the lead singer and composer of The Young Disciples. She is known for her role as featured vocalist with The Brand New Heavies, Incognito, Dr John, Ramsey Lewis, Nigel Kennedy and Paul Weller. Her ambitious Cage Street Memorial project traces 100 years of family life and national politics in a critically acclaimed album, book and live 'tribal opera', recently performed at London's Barbican to high praise.
Since her emergence on the British jazz scene in the mid-90s, pianist Nikki Yeoh has proved to be an improviser, composer and all-round adventurer who has continually sought to broaden her musical horizons. She has led her own bands in venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, performed with DJ Pogo, Neneh Cherry and The Roots and composed works for John Surman and Joanna MacGregor. Nikki received The Jazz FM Instrumentalist of the Year Award 2017 for her solo album Solo Gemini.
Speech is a rapper and musician from South London, best known for winning the Mercury Music Prize for her debut album, Speech Therapy (2009), most of which was co-produced by Big Dada label mate Wayne Lotek. In 2012 she released her second album, Freedom of Speech. She has also been politically and socially active with a number of charities and movements and hosted the BBC documentary Hidden Homeless.
London-based saxophonist and composer Nubya is one of the leading forces behind the resurgence of jazz-influenced sounds in the UK. She has recently played the Worldwide Festival, Ronnie Scott's, Brazil's Urubu Sessions with Jazz re:freshed and British Underground, and began 2018 at Winter Jazz Fest. Last year she was awarded the Steve Reid Foundation Award and released her debut recording with Jazz re:freshed. Nubya is also involved with bands Maisha, Nérija, Theon Cross Trio and Joe Armon Jones' and Maxwell Owins' Idiom.