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Home   Medway   News   Article

MidKent College in Gillingham link up with Stax Music Academy in Memphis, Tennessee.

30 May 2014
by Clare Freeman

The Delta to Delta project will join people in Medway with their peers at the Stax Music Academy in Memphis, Tennessee.

The academy was set up to honour the Stax record label which signed up stars of music in the 1950s and 60s.

Steve Hook, Justin Merrick and Ashleigh Chalmers in the recording studio

Steve Hook, Justin Merrick and Ashleigh Chalmers in the recording studio

To kickstart the project, Justin Merrick from the academy visited MidKent College and the University of Kent at Chatham Maritime.

He spent time with students and staff, learning about arts and music in Medway. He also attended an acoustic gig at the college and led a session for students.

Mr Merrick, 26, said: “The focus of the project is to find the next generation of soul ambassadors – to understand the rich legacy of soul music and uses it in way to create a positive impact in the world, by connecting our histories to our current situation and ultimately finding their own voice to define the future.”

The project came about as part of Alan Mash’s Winston Churchill Memorial Trust travelling fellowship, which funds UK citizens to travel overseas and bring back ideas to help benefit their community.

Mr Mash’s proposal was to bring music education experts from Medway and Memphis together to help disaffected young people stay or return to education.

He said: “We want to set up a long-term relationship to share good practice and give young people from Medway the opportunity to perform in the US and young people from Memphis the opportunity to perform in the UK.”

Mr Mash has been working with young people not in education, employment or training for many years and is about to undertake a PhD looking at the social responsibility of music makers.

He said: “It’s about making music something you can touch and feel again, not just something you download and discard.”

The project will give music students from Medway the chance to travel to Memphis to visit the home of soul music and learn what makes Stax and soul music so special.

"It will give our students access to the home of blues and soul" - lecturer Nick Sermon

Nick Sermon, teaching and learning manager for media/music technology and art and design at MidKent, said: “I am very excited about the project.

"We are in the early days of the relationship but just from the short period of time Justin was with us I can see how it as helped the students he has interacted with. He is a versatile performer and has huge talent as a musician and a teacher.”

Mr Sermon said he benefited from overseas study as a student and wanted to give his students the same opportunity.

“The opportunity to work with such a fantastic organisation like Stax is huge,” he said.

“It will give our students access to the home of blues and soul which will develop their own cultural understanding which will benefit them when seeking employment and applying for university.”

Click here for more news from Medway.

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