New Gen, a project created by Ipswich Community Media in 2019 and now run in collaboration with Out Loud Music, helps to unite young, like minded individuals who share a passion for music and media, and provide them with the tools to collaborate with one another. The group that consists of rappers, singers, musicians and poets was set up to allow the young people a safe and engaging space to enhance their skills and confidence, where creativity and inspiration can truly flourish.
Unfortunately, as with many groups, at the beginning of 2020, New Gen came to an abrupt standstill when Britain was placed under a nation wide lockdown. However, despite the obstacles placed upon them, the group remained motivated and didn’t let a global pandemic stand in their way. Instead, the group showed just how important having a sense of community is, as they continued to demonstrate their determination and resilience as they adapted to remote learning. During lockdown, the New Gen Project was awarded funding from UK Youth to achieve their Bronze Award. This enabled them to have weekly meetings over Zoom and continue their sessions. Using Zoom, they were able to play with samples, meet with industry professionals and create something very special.
Therefore, as lockdown restrictions began to ease earlier this year, it was of paramount importance that the group should meet in person, and given the 15 month hiatus, finally perform together.
To celebrate the Power Of Stories exhibition, Ipswich Community partnered with Aspire Black Suffolk and Ipswich Museums to create a Black Panther Brunch. Taking inspiration from the original Black Panther Brunches, New Gen wanted to not only showcase everything they had been working on and highlight their way of ‘storytelling’ through music, but to link food and music by creating a platform where people could eat and enjoy live performances. With the support from the museum, images of the UK Black Panthers were exhibited around the room and invites were sent to family, friends and staff. Food was provided by Sweet P and included fishcakes, fried chicken, salad and rice. The highly anticipated brunch allowed the group to perform 3 sets to a live audience, showcasing everything they had produced over zoom.
For some, this brunch was the first time ever that they had been able to perform. Ashanti, the group’s newest member said ‘it felt very surreal’. She added that it was a ‘big jump performing with a band’ having only ever sang in front of her family. ‘I was a nervous wreck. My hands were sweating, I had butterflies. But it felt good because people have said I’ve been able to sing for the longest time and to finally build the confidence to sing in front of people is a good feeling. I’ll definitely do it again.’
Due to not having a premises for nearly 15 months the group were able to secure a rehearsal space which they used for only 5 weeks before completing their sets ready to perform to the public. The set included original songs and one cover performed and written by the young people. With over a dozen members, the group formed a natural split which resulted in two bands. Sammy was frontman for his group and performed a fiery original with Zia on bass, Josh on drums, Will on guitar and Bruno on keys and they also did their own twist to ‘Redbone’ by Childish Gambino. The other group was fronted by Kelcy and newbie Ashanti. Kelcy performed her thought provoking track ‘Being black’ which included Bruno on keys, Josh on drums and Nathan on bass. She then followed this with the banger ‘Baddest and Boujiest’. And lastly our incredibly new member Ashanti did her first ever live performance which was a new rnb classic of ‘Playing Games’ by Summer Walker’. One of the tutor’s Angelle added ‘it was a tearjerker moment watching them all perform and bond with each other. We are so proud of them. I hope they feel empowered and raring to go into the next term’.
If you would like to get involved, or know anyone who might be interested, please visit www.outloudmusic.org/newgen