The Generosity of Strangers and the Power of Music.

So if we’re friends on Facebook or if you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that I’ve been planning a gig with my friend for the Playing for Change Foundation. We ran the gig on Monday night and it was AMAZING. We gave ourselves (stupidly) only two weeks to plan it. This meant sourcing artists, a venue, negotiating terms with said venue and getting a large enough crowd to make sure that our artists weren’t singing in front of an empty room! Luckily we pulled it off. We found some incredible artists some with powerful voices to get the crowd up on their feet and some with smooth, calming tones perfect for relaxing to. I also ended up singing, partly because we needed more people and also because I love music.

It’s safe to say that I was astounded that these incredible artists were so happy to give up their Monday night (yep, Monday night gig) to perform for us. Some people I’d only met once or twice and some I’d known for a few months. Only Jade, my fellow organiser, had I known for any real length of time. But I knew two out of three of the other performers, not particularly well, but I knew them and I knew they were good people. One is a powerful activist with the voice of an angel, the other is working towards being a counsellor, with so much soul in her voice! The third and fourth, one who I’d only met a couple times and one never before (and Jade) work on a social action programme are powerhouses in work and music. All the people we had involved with the performing side of the gig were involved, in one way or another, in making the world a better place to live in, in creating a more peaceful, healthy, fair and happy society for us and our future generations and I’m so proud and so honoured to have been able to perform alongside these beautiful people.

The crowd were also pretty special. We had way more people come along than we expected. 50+ people, casual acquaintances, friends, friends of friends, complete strangers from upstairs even some of the staff from the pub (more on that later). The people who came primarily were also people working to make the world a better place. Many work in charities, some are nurses, volunteers, campaigners, activists, artists, fellow musicians and everywhere in between. Even if they weren’t working in one of the “social” sectors, the fact that they came along and supported the charity and the gig and us, means they came along to help us change the world.

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Our wonderful Gen, absolutely killing it on stage!

Finally, a huge thank you to the venue. I can’t express to you just how generous these strangers were. We booked the venue on short notice on a night where there are few events. They provided a stage, amps, microphones, stands, stools, extra lamps, tons of extra chairs, a member of staff at our own little bar and a whole host of smiles. A few stick in my mind in particular.

Emmanuel, the bouncer for the night popped in periodically, bringing audience members and listening in. He complimented us all multiple times and I learned that he’s a saxophonist and has been playing for over 17 years.

Rosie, who was working the main bar upstairs, came down before we started and helped us set up the room. This doesn’t sound like much but we asked for the room to be changed multiple times. Sofas moved, stage put out, extra chairs put away then brought back out. She did this all with a huge beautiful smile and she even stayed for a little chat. She’s a good egg despite our indecisiveness and our very particular plans.

Maria, who was our amazing bartender for the night, wasn’t feeling great. But she still worked with another beautiful smile, paid us a heap of compliments and made sure we were all sorted and ready to have a cracking night. I left one of my cables at the venue after Monday and when I went to pick it up, she greeted me with that same infectious smile and told me how glad she was that she worked downstairs for the night. It’s a small gesture on her part but it means the world to me.

On top of their amazing team, they gave us the venue for free. So if you’re ever in the Shoreditch area and are looking for some of the best staff in town and the nicest beer garden ever, go on down to the Water Poet. You won’t regret it.

We couldn’t have achieved any of what we did without the help of amazing artists, volunteers, audience members, venue, staff and supporters from afar so to everyone who came along, thank you for your generosity!

You can still donate to PFC here.

Music is a powerful tool for change and a valuable learning tool for young people and adults alike. Help us spread the message of peace through music.

To hear more music check out my YouTube channel here where I’ll be uploading some videos from the night and follow some of our other singers below. (More to be added in due course).

Kath: @kaffwyatt (tweet her to get her singing more!)

 

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