Here is a blog by Kay Grayson, who is one of our music leaders on GemArts’ Youth Music funded East by North East project. Kay’s blog gives a fascinating snap shot of her own amazing journey as a female rapper, and how she has used her skills through the project to support young women to develop their musical talent and confidence.
As a rapper, I have been performing around the UK for nearly nine years as well as writing, mixing and mastering my own music including my underground 2016 mixtape ‘Morning After Music’. Now I am working with producer Suski to release my first EP and hopefully will continue performing across the country.
Alongside this I have been working with GemArts as a music leader. I started as a volunteer for Chat Trust: The Base, which is a project I attended from twelve years old and where I learned to use studio equipment. As a volunteer working with the girls group I found a passion for supporting young people with their creative interests and after a year I became a worker on the EBNE project.
The girls, that myself and the other music leaders have been working with, have faced many obstacles in their lives when it comes to wanting to create their own music, for example, English is not the first language for many of them which can add difficulty when it comes to writing music, and also create a lack of confidence, which is something they all struggled with at first.
Over time I have watched the girls become confident and competent musicians through their dedication and willingness to learn. They have gone from not wanting to sing in front of the microphone to learning to deliver their own raps in the studio and even showing an interest in how the studio works. Musically this has inspired me, and helping them to write and record has helped to develop my skills in both these areas. It is easy to write a rap when it is me alone, but it was altogether a new challenge to help someone else speak about their experiences in a group of four or five of their friends.
My favourite thing about the sessions is that they create a safe space for young people who live in areas where there may not be many opportunities available to them. As a female rapper I have faced barriers due to my gender and therefore know that it is invaluable to a young person’s confidence to be free to try things without fear of judgement. The openness of the sessions proves to the young people that music can be used as a tool to bring people together and promotes a positive message of diversity and acceptance.
East by North East is a Youth Music funded project led by GemArts. Building on the success of previous projects, during this third phase, we have expanded the prorgramme to provide more opportunities for professional musicians and young people living in challenging circumstances from BAMER and wider communities across Newcastle and Gateshead to work with one another, sustaining high quality music making regionally, and addressing community needs and issues. A key element of the programme is to further diversify the music skills and workforce of music practitioners in the North East through offering CPD, training, peer to peer development and mentoring.