Lounges become stages
With live events on pause we wanted to give the talented young people out there a platform to express their creativity by offering them the virtual centre stage in our first ever online music festival.
Our aim was to keep young people engaged with music at a time of isolation and to represent a diverse range of ages, styles, genres and talents, wanting the festival to be inclusive and accessible to all, and we were electrified by each and every performance!
After throwing around some rather tongue-tangling names like Lewisham Music Online Music Festival and Lewisham Keeps Making Music Fest – it hit us like a soft cushion and Lewisham Lounge Fest was born! Very apt as we were all confined to our homes at the time.
There were no limits, we just wanted young artists aged 7-15 and 16-21 to send us recordings, whether that be of them performing their favourite piece of music, or original composition, from their homes, the streets or even a studio. All musical genres, styles and abilities were desired, whether they’d just picked up an instrument or had been playing for years.
Launching on Friday 14 August 2020, Lewisham Lounge Fest ran throughout the summer (who needs Glastonbury!), kicking off with 12 acts over 2 stages, new performances were revealed each week to online revellers, ending up with 48 acts over 8 stages. We had everything from original protest songs and raps about gentrification, to themes of love and living in the city, to folk, rock, multi-instrument creations and ska covers, to funk, classical and as one group stated their genre as being “chain funk” or “egg electro”. We even attracted some budding videographers!
As new stages were unleashed each week, more and more young people came forward, feeling inspired to get involved…
“I have really enjoyed watching the talented youth of Lewisham perform in this festival. It has really inspired my son to enter his own video. Is there still time to enter?”
“Tyrique Gabbidon on bass was such a smooth and accomplished performance – would love to see more from him. Miles on the drums is so talented and Tally Smith…everyone in the festival! My son loved the energy and videos from Electric Fire and K-Dog.”
Here’s a short video highlighting the diverse range of music that made the festival, we could easily have made this a feature-length blockbuster but felt under 4 minutes would be best…
The festival played an important role in keeping the young people of Lewisham playing music, not only highlighting their creativity but also some of the great work that other local arts organisations are doing, with young ArtsTrain and Heart n Soul artists getting involved throughout.
Heart n Soul commented that “Lewisham Lounge Fest gave Heart n Soul artists Electric Fire, Danielle and K-Dog a chance to get their music heard by a much wider audience. It’s very important that their voices are heard as widely as possible, and Lewisham Music offered a great avenue for this. It’s great that they are still keeping the local scene alive with projects like this”.
Here’s what some of the performers had to say…
“I decided to take part in Lewisham Lounge Fest because my mum showed me videos of the other people who had sent in videos, they were really cool and made me want to have a go. It was nice because my family and friends could see me playing my ukulele and singing online. I loved singing and performing for people during lockdown, especially when it was their birthday.” Luke, age 10
“Joining Lewisham Lounge Fest made me feel happy because I was showing my talent and performing what I have learnt during lockdown when I had lots of spare time to learn things that I have always wanted to learn. It felt amazing to be able to see myself on screen playing music pieces among many other talented musicians. I decided to join Lewisham Lounge Fest because I wanted to make people feel happier during the lockdown and also, I wanted to show that you should carry on doing something that you love even if there is an obstacle in your way – in this case COVID-19.” Rendys, age 11
“I was really excited when I found out that I was selected to take part and the positive response to my performance. I felt that taking part in Lewisham Lounge Fest was the perfect opportunity to share my music and other musical performances during lockdown.” Sofia, age 10
“It was a privilege to perform in the Lewisham Lounge Fest and to show everyone my skills. It felt really great to entertain others, who may not have seen me perform before. Performing in the Lewisham Lounge Fest really boosted my confidence as a musician. Knowing that people would be watching my performance and enjoying it really made me work harder when practicing and made me feel even better after I had finished it.” Tyrique, age 13
“I thought that given the circumstances there are limited opportunities to perform and that I should take advantage of any that come my way. I also thought it might help to inspire others to do the same and not give up just because of the recent limitations.” Mia, age 17
This was our first online music festival, and certainly won’t be our last, with such inspiring young people out there we must continue to show the world what they can do. We’ll keep the festival on the website for a while (maybe forever) and will look at further developments for the future, and who knows, bring it to life one day?