Karaoke is a collaborative artwork and live performance devised by Barby Asante who will be working with community elders in south London to explore popular culture, memory and cultural heritage.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Karaoke on the Common

Some classic songs have been getting a fresh airing in south-London recently as Brixton based artist, Barby Asante's latest project brings together performance art, karaoke, reminiscence, celebration of cultural heritage and a group of community elders who share a love of the real old school classics. Over the past few months Barby has been working with the group, listening to their favourite records and sharing thoughts and memories about the music that has been the soundtrack of their lives.

The project grew out of Barby's existing relationship with the elders group and her interest in collaborating with the public to create innovative, socially-engaged work. Whilst the group have had great fun listening to these classic records and playing music bingo they have also had a chance to remember the events, feelings and emotions that some of these songs evoke and have shared these memories with Barby and film-makers, Chocolate Films, who are documenting the project for a documentary to be screened early in 2009. Their stories, like the music itself, paints a fascinating portrait of post-war British culture. The participants on this project have selected a number of songs and are making karaoke music videos to accompany them; videos that reflect their lives and what the song means to them personally.

Barby's Karaoke project will get its first public outing on Sunday 14th September when there will be a celebration at the bandstand at Clapham Common. The event will be part live performance and part social gathering with a Caribbean ambience, D.Js and a dominoes challenge taking place alongside the karaoke.

Future events as part of this project will include the official launch of the project, which will feature the première screening of the film alongside a live karaoke performance; discussions on the influence of black music on popular culture and the release of a DVD featuring the documentary and the karaoke music videos. Barby's Karaoke is a constantly evolving project which Barby will be able to take to other venues to explore the importance of music and memory. Bespoke workshops will be developed which will be able to include screenings of the film and live performances involving local communities and it is envisaged that the project will soon have the nation singing a different karaoke song. The DVD itself will also be available for community groups and cultural venues to host their own alternative karaoke nights

Barby's Karaoke was developed by Barby Asante in collaboration with Studio Voltaire in partnership with Chocolate Films. The project has been funded by Arts Council England, London, and The City Bridge Trust with additional support from the London Borough of Lambeth