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On Friday 14th of October, the Songs of Freedom Concert will take place against the stunning backdrop of Newcastle Cathedral. This one-off special event will commemorate the 55th Anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s visit to Newcastle – the only place in Britain outside London he ever visited – where he was presented with an honorary degree from the University.

The concert will feature, , the multi-Grammy award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir, Voices of Virtue Gospel Choir, award-winning rappers Kema Kay and Kay Greyson, nationally renowned dance crews, Patrick Ziza’s Dandies, Vitamin Noir and the Young Sinfonia as well as graduates of Northern Roots mentoring programme, Maxine, Tia Leoni, Sisi, Milan, Colourblind and Neeko. The concert will also feature actor Luke Wilson portraying Martin Luther King reprising his role as King in the theatre production “The Mountain Top”.

Sir Paul McCartney’s ‘Blackbird’ live from New York City’s Citi Field Stadium, will also feature in the concert. The global superstar shows his support with the use of the emotive song, written about the racial strife in the American South in the 1960s.

The Songs of Freedom concert will tell the remarkable story of Dr King’s visit to Newcastle and the history of the civil rights movement, told through the music which sound-tracked the struggle for social and racial equality.

“There are three urgent and indeed great problems we face, the problem of racism, the problem of poverty and the problem of war”.
Dr Martin Luther King Newcastle upon Tyne 1967

Directed by Paulette Randall, one of the UK’s leading theatre directors who was associated director on the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games, the concert will also showcase the mentoring work of Northern Roots which is led by Kema Kay and Kay Greyson, and has worked with scores of young creatives from diverse communities in the Tyneside area. Paulette is working in partnership with Kema and Kay to ensure that it reflects the story of young black people growing up in UK today.

“As we approach the 55th anniversary of Dr King’s visit we must ask ourselves has there ever been a time when King’s words were as relevant as they are today. The events of the last five years and the rise of the Black Lives Matter have shown us that racism is as great a problem as it was when King made his speech. The cost-of-living crisis has plunged millions into poverty as war rages in Europe for the first time in decade’ says Kema Kay, who is producing the concert. “When the great Steve Wonder heard about Dr King’s visit to Newcastle he asked to meet a delegation from Newcastle telling us “we need to bring everyone together no matter their race, religion, colour or who they choose to love. Thanks for the inspiration, Stevie”.
Northern Roots is grateful for support from support provider Orbis.
“Orbis are incredibly fortunate to have employed a number of people from African heritage to help support people with learning disability and Autism in their own homes. In the early part of the Covid pandemic staff left their own homes and families for days on weeks on end to support vulnerable people in the community, they did this with passion, without complaint, putting themselves at personal risk in order to meet the needs of each person we support. We are blessed to have such people in our organisation”, Nigel Devine Managing Director Orbis.
Northern Roots is also very grateful for support from the Earl of Pitt Street for our mentoring programme with young people.
Northern Roots thanks Community Foundation, Wellbank Foundation, Virgin Money Foundation and the National Lottery Community Fund though there support through the #iwill fund.