Bristol Reggae Orchestra this week celebrated the 60th anniversary of Jamaican Independence with the first Windrush Reggae Choir vocal workshop.
The orchestra has been awarded funding through the Windrush Day Grant Fund to bring together a reggae choir. The 6-month project will learn from, enjoy and amplify the voices of the Windrush generation and their descendants, leading to a gala performance in the Autumn. The Bristol Windrush Reggae Choir is lucky to have the legendary Orgena (Gena) Rose as its leader.
“I am incredibly honoured to be leading this historic choir project to acknowledge and pay tribute to the people of the Windrush generation. Music is a perfect way to celebrate their legacy. It is a universal language and reggae music, especially that of Bob Marley, is deep, soulful and revolutionary. It reminds us that we are One Love, One Heart and causes us to rise up, see who we truly are and the power we have to change our lives and change our world.” Orgena Rose, Choir Director
Excitement was high as the first new choir members arrived at St Agnes Church, St Pauls on Wednesday. With Ben Jenkins (Musical Director, Bristol Reggae Orchestra) at the piano the first group of enthusiastic singers gathered.
“I am so excited that St Agnes Church is involved in this wonderful project and to see the building full of people from the community singing and laughing together! St Agnes is very much at the heart of St Paul's and as such has always held a special place in the community for the Bristol Windrush generation and their descendants. It is my privilege to be part of this as we celebrate together their important contribution to our community and the cultural landscape of Bristol.” Rev Melanie Otto, Singer
Much laughter accompanied Gena’s warm up. Acknowledging the Marley family presence in the UK this week, a medley of Bob Marley classics were at the heart of a glorious bath of sound. A tea break later, with confidence levels rising, the choir were on their feet for another go.
“Wow what an honour to be part of this historic Windrush Choir project. It is a wonderful opportunity to recognise all those affectionately now known as the Windrush generation. My parents were part of the Windrush generation and so it has increased historical value and legacy for me personally. Reggae music allows a celebration which is soulfully inspiring and fitting for the celebration of Windrush, to sing the tunes and lyrics from Bob Marley carries deep meaning. So… is it love that I’m feeling…. well yes of course it is!” Carole Johnson, Vice Chair St Pauls Carnival CIC, Former Lord Mayor Bristol City Council and councillor for Ashley Ward
“I have fallen in love with music again, I found a new side to my musical career last night, I can sing! Gena opened a whole new side of my life to me last night, plus I made new friends! One of the best nights of my life, seriously! When’s the next one?” Joe Motsepe, Singer
All welcome at the next FREE vocal workshop! Wednesday 24 August, 630-9pm, St Agnes Church, St Pauls. Register for more details by emailing email@example.com
Interested in composing a piece of music for the Windrush Reggae Choir? We’re looking to commission an exciting piece of music for orchestra and choir. It should celebrate the Windrush generation and look to the future.
Take a look at the news item and follow Bristol Reggae Orchestra’s social media to get involved!