Cambridge charity Romsey Mill supports young musicians
Many people dream of making an album, and a group of 12 young people involved with a supportive Cambridge charity have done just that – and the fruits of their labour are now available to purchase online.
Christian youth charity Romsey Mill, based on Hemingford Road in Cambridge, recently assisted in the making of an album, consisting of tracks written and recorded by the young people with whom they work.
Officially launched on Friday, January 25 at The Junction’s J3, the album can now be found on iTunes and Spotify under its title, Light Amongst Sinners.
The 14-track LP boasts a fusion of hip-hop, rap and grime, profiling fresh and upcoming young talent from the East of England.
Tracks include Genesis, Some Type of Way, Reflections and Lord Knows.
Romsey Mill creates opportunities with young people and families to help them overcome challenges and disadvantages through a wide range of user-led programmes.
As part of its youth development work, the charity has been running a successful music programme for many years, but this is the first time a collection of tracks written by the young people has been released.
All of the artists are part of Romsey Mill’s music programme, and the LP has been issued on the charity’s own social enterprise music label, Turntable Records.
As well being available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon Music, the record can also be purchased in CD format from the Romsey Mill Centre in Cambridge.
Romsey Mill’s music programme is part-funded by the National Foundation for Youth Music and it has proved very effective in engaging with young people in the most vulnerable situations and who are at most risk.
The charity’s music specialist youth worker, Karl Lewis – a local musician, MC and DJ – produced the album.
Karl fully understands the situations faced by the young people with whom he works, because he was once one of the young people helped by Romsey Mill when he was a teenager.
He said: “I first got involved with Romsey Mill when me and my mates used to throw raves. The police didn’t like it and neither did the locals, but Romsey Mill provided us with the opportunity and a place to play our music.
"The fact that Romsey Mill believed in me has been so important in helping me become the person I am today.”
Each year, Romsey Mill works with more than 900 disadvantaged young people, providing opportunities for them to engage in positive activities that interest them, and helping them to learn new skills that raise their hopes and aspirations.
Mike Farrington, who leads the youth development work at Romsey Mill, said: “The title of the album, Light Amongst Sinners, acknowledges that it is a difficult world for young people, but there is hope.”
Taz is an 18-year-old rapper from Cambridge. Over the last three years, she has taken part in a number of music-making projects run by Romsey Mill.
The team there have supported Taz to write, record and produce music in their in-house studio, helping her to develop as an artist alongside her college studies in psychology, sociology and criminology.
“My sister was into loads of different rappers,” recalled Taz. “I was like 10 when I used to hear her listening to these rappers. As I got older, she gave me her little iPod, and from then I just got into rap, and I was like, ‘Yep, rap is me, definitely’.”
It wasn’t until Taz met Karl, however, that she started to write and perform her own material. Taz says Karl’s encouragement has been a massive influence: “K made me realise that what I have is actually different to most people my age,” she said.
“I didn’t have any intention of going again and writing and doing rap music, but I think from that day, if I didn’t meet K, I wouldn’t be rapping.”
Kallum, 25, is a rapper from Cambridge who has been taking part in music-making projects run by Romsey Mill since he was 14.
He is now taking on additional responsibilities as a music leader – helping younger participants write, record and produce their own material.
“There were certain groups, where I’m from, that did music that I liked,” said Kallum. “They weren’t famous, but they were famous to the community.
"That’s what made me want to do music. Do you know when you look up to the older lot? It was just one of those things.
“Karl used to be in one of the groups, and I knew he was good at music, so I thought if I go there and learn what he’s doing, I’ll be good as well.
"And 10 years down the line, I’m here now.”