(Photo by Ryan Buchanan)
Amplify was a collaboration between Vox Liminis, the staff and young people at Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre and the Edinburgh International Festival. It began in 2021 as an opportunity for young people who had helped their local community during the COVID-19 pandemic to write, perform and record their own songs with professional musicians.
Caroline Donald, Head of Learning & Engagement at EIF, states: ‘We created the Amplify project because we, coming out of lockdown, wanted to reconnect with [young people], but we also wanted to create an opportunity for them to express themselves.’
Back in June, the Amplify group of 2022 took to the stage in front of friends and family to share the stories and songs created through the project at a wrap party hosted by EIF.
In this blog post we share, and explore the making of, ‘Never Alone’- one of the four new tracks created through the project.
Amplify provided an opportunity for those involved to write about their feelings around issues affecting them and their area, such as mental health, bullying, knife crime and misconceptions of young people. It also allowed them to be heard beyond their local community.
One participant reflected, ‘I’ve learned to speak about myself more to other people and share my opinions and value other people’s opinions as well’. The making of the song ‘Never Alone’ reflects this spirit of collaboration. Unlike the other groups, which were smaller, this song had no fewer than nine co-writers! To begin the writing process the nine young people had to find some common ground, which turned out to be a shared love of the song You’ll Never Walk Alone originally from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel, but later made famous by Gerry and The Pacemakers.
All of them found meaning in the image of walking through ‘storms’ with others: never alone. Together they thought about challenges in life, including certain aspects of school, loneliness and bullying, as well as what was positive and fun, such as the freedom of riding bikes, hanging out with friends, following your football team and the Goodtrees activities they all enjoyed. The Goodtrees Centre was unanimously agreed upon as being a place of safety, happiness and support, and features prominently in the song – sounds of the centre itself, such as the hubbub of people’s voices, the crack of pool balls and the ‘ping’ of the microwave, can all be heard.
According to Louis, the musician who supported the making of the song, ‘[I]t acts as a little window into Goodtrees and some of the great work going on there to engage young people in Edinburgh.’
While Goodtrees provided a comfortable and energising place for the writing sessions, the young people were extremely excited about taking their songs into a studio to record.
Louis says,‘Going to the professional recording studio was the moment that a lot of those involved pointed towards as being a kind of apex of the project.’
The pressure and intensity of this experience also brought them closer together – they were always giving encouragement to one another, lending support as well as having a laugh together.
Never Alone represents how the Amplify project 2022 was utilised by the young people as a means of self-expression, a way to be heard, as well as a space in which friendships were built.
Have a listen to the song here:
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