Imagine presents ‘Walk With Me’
IOM UK is partnering with Together Productions for the fourth year, joining the common mission to unite people from different backgrounds, combat xenophobia and showcase new music celebrating the strength and resilience of people from diverse communities.
During the UK’s Refugee Week in June 2020, Together Productions launched an online global music video project, in partnership with I Speak Music and with support from IOM UK. Based on Walk With Me, a new song co-written by members of the I Speak Music Community Orchestra, led by Jim Pinchen, Liz Ikamba and Raghad Haddad, people worldwide were invited to participate in the creation of a new music video. “The video holds a strong message of unity – says Raghad Haddad – “as it has a combination of lyrics, music, and images of the real people that are behind the project, and their many countries of origin and languages. There is a combination of Middle Eastern and Western tunes that make the artistic results of the project very special”.
For UK based Raghad Haddad, the project also offered the opportunity for her to collaborate again with her brother, Bassel Haddad, a pianist in Syria who works on singing projects with homeless children through the Sadaq Choir they set up together back in 2013. Bassel describes that “being able to bring together the homeless children with other children was inspiring, because I witnessed them sharing this experience with joy, regardless of the fact that they were coming from very different walks of life.”
Over 120 performers from the UK, Egypt, Syria, Iran, South Africa, El Salvador, Mexico, Jordan, Afghanistan, France, Gaza, US, Germany and Belgium sent in their contributions. Dabu (René Edenilson Rivas Aparicio), a rapper from El Salvador who works to use music to empower vulnerable people, says “the opportunity to collaborate on this project has really lifted my spirit up. It made me realise that I had my microphone and I could still use it communicate and express myself... I love working with people from all over the world and contributing to international projects such as the Imagine:Imagine project.”
The global submissions have been edited into a final music video by Academy and Emmy Award nominated producer Leslie Knott and acclaimed director, writer and producer Ben Gregor. The film shows the power of music to emphasize all we have in common, highlights the beauty of diversity, and honours the extraordinary contributions of displaced and migrant communities to our world. Masoud Danyiali, a percussionist from Iran, says “the fact that artists were joining in the project from different parts of the world, made me feel that we are part of the same community, and that through music we could raise our voices together. This project really shows that music has no borders. I strongly believe that music is the most powerful tool you can use to communicate.”
The video will be premiered alongside an amazing line up of international performers in a concert hosted by soprano Nadine Benjamin on Youtube Premiere on the International Day of Peace, Monday 21st September, at 5pm BST (UK time). We’d love you to join us!
About IOM UK
“We welcome the commitment of this network of artists and people from all over the world who are using their talent to build a more peaceful and welcoming society for displaced and migrant communities” says Dipti Pardeshi, IOM UK Chief of Mission.
IOM, the UN Migration Agency, is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration. We work to support safer, orderly and regular migration, and to provide assistance and protection to vulnerable migrants and communities all around the world.
In the UK we help migrants to better integrate, and we assist receiving communities to recognize and support the positive contributions that migrants can make.
About Together Productions
“Covid 19 forces us to re-evaluate what is important, who the real change makers are, and how they make a difference to our lives”, say Holly Jones and Jeremy Haneman from Together Productions - Imagine: Imagine is providing a platform for a global community to come together and celebrate the talents of displaced people and diverse communities everywhere. In a locked down world making connections across personal, cultural and international divides is more important than ever, and music is the universal language that bonds us all". Together Productions is a ground-breaking social change organisation based in the UK. We produce innovative collaborative arts projects that connect people, organisations and audiences across social and cultural divides. We run community projects including the Mixed Up Chorus and the Sing For Freedom Choir and the large-scale composition and performance project Singing Our Lives.
About I Speak Music
Raghad Haddad, Musical Director, I Speak Music, explains what has inspired the song Walk With Me: "We wrote this song during lock down to express gratitude to everyone, now and before, who have made their new home in foreign lands, to say forever welcome and thank you for enriching the experience and history of this complex, difficult, beautiful and ever evolving world. We feel honoured that people from so many countries have felt a connection with our message, which is ultimately one of unity, solidarity and connection through music". I Speak Music is a programme designed to promote empathy and celebrate the diversity of local communities. I Speak Music has three strands of work: training and events to bring together multiple agencies; a songwriting programme for displaced minors, and the I Speak Music Orchestra, bringing together an intergenerational group of people from diverse backgrounds to create new music and share their stories and cultural background. The programme is managed by Surrey Arts and is currently receiving funding from Arts Council England, Arts Partnership Surrey and The National Foundation for Youth Music.
I Speak music welcomes people ages 14+ from all backgrounds, but is particularly interested in hearing from refugees, unaccompanied minors, BAME communities and those who sing or play non-western musical instruments. Professional musicians are welcome to join the group as are those with no previous musical experience.
The project has also been supported and promoted by: Musicians Without Borders, The Human Hive, Surrey Arts, Art27 and Refugee Week.