Alumni are being urged to support a charity single produced by pupils from the Nottingham University Samworth Academy (NUSA).
Sing Sing – written and recorded by 14 and 15-year-old pupils with the help of record producer Jorden Milnes – has been released on iTunes under the Academy’s record label, Nu-Start, to raise money for the Mamelodi Trust in South Africa. It will be available for download on iTunes for just 79p and every penny will go to the Mamelodi Trust, which raises money for schools in the squatter camps in Mamelodi, near Pretoria.
All the money raised by the sale of downloads of the track by 31 July 2011 will be match-funded pound for pound by the University’s Development Office through the Government’s matched funding scheme for voluntary giving.
The NUSA pupils were commissioned to produce the single by The University of Nottingham’s Academy Project Unit which co-ordinates a range of academic and social links between the school and University departments. The University has long-established links with South Africa through its School of Education, which fundraises for Mamelodi and operates a graduate teacher placement scheme in the township.
One of the songwriters, 14-year-old Leanne Bradshaw, said: “The Trust showed us some footage of the conditions the people of Mamelodi live in and it was really hard to watch. We were conscious that we wanted to tell people about how much poverty there is in South Africa but also about the tremendous spirit of the people who live there.”
Diquan Kerr, another of the songwriters, added: “We hope that we can raise awareness of this issue and entertain people at the same time. If we can raise funds for Mamelodi, it will make a real difference.”
The music and lyrics were composed by Year 10 students studying for a Music Technology qualification. Their inspiration for the track came from traditional African music famed for its evocative and compelling tunes and rhythm used by many famous stars, such as Shakira, Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon.
Mamelodi is a former black township with a population of about one million people on the north eastern outskirts of Pretoria. Many people in this area live in small brick-built homes, but there are also huge makeshift settlements where people, many of whom are refugees from neighbouring Zimbabwe, have built their own shacks from corrugated iron and plastic sheets. Apartheid was responsible for starving the townships of decent quality education, allowing extreme poverty, high unemployment and a whole range of socio-economic problems which will take many years to eradicate.
Steve Bacon, from the Mamelodi Trust, said: “We were thrilled to hear about the NUSA single and were so impressed when we heard it for the first time. The Mamelodi Trust is delighted to be working with the students at Nottingham University Samworth Academy on this project which will make a real difference for the schools in Mamelodi. We are sure that the track will be a huge success.”
Head teacher at NUSA, Dave Harris, said: “I know I am biased, but I honestly think this is one of the most catchy songs I have ever heard. To me it sums up everything wonderful about our young people and is a measure of the amazing journey we have all been on at NUSA. ‘Sing Sing’ is not just part of the students’ work, but a real tribute to the passion and enthusiasm of our pupils and staff. I certainly will have this as a favourite on my iPod.”
NUSA’s Project Director at the University, Professor Di Birch said: “It is typical of the generosity of spirit of NUSA staff and pupils that they have taken on the challenge of using their own musical talents to support the Mamelodi project by producing a charity single. Little did I think, when NUSA pupils were being taught to sing in Zulu by South African teacher Thandi last summer, that I would now be able to listen to the pupils’ own uplifting take on the sounds and rhythms of South Africa.”
A preview of the track can be heard here.
For more information go to www.nustartrecords.com