Interview: Freedom Choir

Jul 20 2020

The Freedom Choir, formed from a summer School Project funded by the Arts Council in 2017, recently released a live album titled 'Frid3m' on Zoe Records. Louder Than The Music spoke to the album's Executive Produce, Isaac Odeniran, to find out more about the Choir, how the album was made, and why he felt it was important to give these young people an opportunity.

For those who haven't heard of the Freedom Choir before, can you tell us a bit about it and how it was started?

The Freedom Choir and album is a result of about 12 weeks of coaching young people on how to sing in the summer of 2017. They were young people from East London churches and schools. The project was funded by the Arts Council. The project resulted in the Freedom Festival and the choir's performances at the three day Festival were recorded.

Is it rewarding seeing these London pupils express themselves through music?

Putting the choir together and getting the pupil to behave was hard work but it definitely pays off when you see the progress made and the development in the young people. Also the exposure gained by the young people being on television and going to the recording studio will make an indelible mark on the young people.

Tell us about the new live album 'Frid3m' and what the inspiration behind it was?

So the songs on the album are in essence songs of Freedom. Basically the idea was to allow the young people to experience gospel music from the early days of slavery and tracing the history of gospel music in the early days to the present day. The word 'Fri:d3m' is the phonetic for Freedom.

I've read that the choir went through several months of "intensive vocal coaching" to prepare for the album, what was that like?!

So we had several teachers teach the young people. It was hard work and draining for me personally, ensuring that during the summer classes ran to schedule. It was essentially summer school from 10.00am to 3.00pm daily, then we had the weekend and evening classes. Ensuring there was lunch and teachers were on time to teach was no small feat. It was intensive and there was apprehension as to whether we would achieve our objectives. We also wanted the young people to have the best time of their lives.

How did you choose the songs to record for this album?

The songs on the album were all gospel songs of Freedom dating back to the early days of gospel music chosen by me.

Which is your favorite track on the album and why?

My favourite song is Free as originally sang by Venessa Bell Armstrong one of my favourite gospel artists.

What message would you like people to take from the music on this album?

That there is mileage in investing resources to build up our young people of tomorrow. That our communities should spend time building up our tomorrow.

When might we hear from the Freedom Choir next?

We hope that the album will at least be nominated for awards during the gospel music awards season in the Children Music categories.

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