Disabling the Preconceptions

March of this year, I was invited by Drake Music to explore a collaborative experience with a group of artists from Graeae Theatre. Both organisations are dedicated to the breaking down of barriers and challenging preconceptions of artists with disabilities.

After a couple of meetings with John Kelly, my collaborative musician partner and composer of the music for the Paralympics opening ceremony 2012, we decided on an idea for a pretty cool commission based on the concept of tunes, lyrics, compositions – “music that has changed your life”, personally, politically and socially.

John and I’s musical and lyrical worlds collided and found harmony in music for drastic political and social change. John is from the era of punk when The Sex Pistols where giving the middle finger to the system. I’m grew through Public Enemy’s Fight The Power, resisting the system. It’s for us to define what it is we, as marginalised artists – he a wheelchair bound white male artist, me a black female artist – want to say in a new innovative ways through our music, lyricism and performance.
Danny Baverman is the project’s Artist development associate and shares the blog of the Artist Development laboratory day – CLICK TO SEE HOW THE DAY WENT AT GRAEAE THEATRE, SHOREDITCH.

What resonated most with me about our collaboration was the nuances of intersectionality of a disability and making art. Just as there as are many shades of skin colour, there is as many disabilities that will determine how you might approach making it. Just as I am not defined by other people’s perception of my gender and skin colour, John, and others with disabilities, is not defined by his wheelchair and his helper.
The next stages is for us to write the story, score and lyrics. Looking forward to it!

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