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UB40 saxophonist Brian Travers devoted final days to charity song


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One of the last songs to feature the late, great UB40 saxophonist Brian Travers, will help raise money for children with cancer and life-threatening illnesses.

Beads of Courage was released last month by the children's charity of the same name – and now a new documentary video, filmed at Eternal Lake Nature Reserve in Cliffe, has been published to show the making of the song.

Watch the documentary and music video for Beads of Courage.

"We're starting a revolution here," says the former UB40 man, in a moving message at the end of the video. "I've been looking for a revolution for 50 years, and I've found it - it's in the care and love of other people."

Eternal Lake warden Mark Kent was instrumental in organising the recording of the song – and said it was moving to hear Brian's words in the wake of his death, aged 62, in August.

"I thought what a profound thing to have said," recalled Mark. "Brian was introduced to me in July last year. He was nearly dead and he had brain cancer, but they removed the brain cancer and had put him on a drug for a long time. We helped him with alternative treatment, and he was able to make a recovery to such an extent he was able to start working again.

"He was so passionate about this project he did it straight away. I used to ring him for hours."

The song also saw involvement from a number of other Kent and London musicians, singers and dancers – and includes vocals from the Rochester Singers.

Brian Travers on stage. Image by Richard Purvis
Brian Travers on stage. Image by Richard Purvis

Mark first drafted in BAFTA Award-winning artist and friend Blair Jollands to write and arrange the song, before Brian was introduced to the charity and the music project.

The saxophonist swiftly put the work to the top of a long list of ongoing projects, and his son Jamie recorded Brian's work for the song.

"Brian was so inspired about this project, his spirit is in the music," added Mark. "He did an amazing job, we loved him, we will miss him. This project has had a spirit energy behind it from the beginning and the true essence came together with the music and the lyrics."

After Brian's recording, the track spent many months of development. Singer Lifford Shillingford took on vocal duties and was recorded by Andy Richardson, who played the bass guitar part and directed the music video.

Lifford's uplifting gospel tones pushed the song in the soulful, spiritual direction, which led the team to enlist the help of Rebecca Jane Marshall who drafted in the Rochester Singers.

L-R: Andy Richardson, Lifford Shillingford, Yasmin Howes, Mark Kent, and Blair Jollands
L-R: Andy Richardson, Lifford Shillingford, Yasmin Howes, Mark Kent, and Blair Jollands

The lead guitar parts were recorded by Adam Chetwood, while the video includes Kent-based Wish Upon a Pony, Xtreme Dance Academy, Ellie Hunter and Hannah Knowlton (Gongs and Crystal Bowls) and the Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Institute.

They all participated in the creation of the story of the music video, a dream sequence featuring Beads of Courage child Yasmin Howes, aged 10, who was diagnosed with Osteo Sarcoma in February 2020.

Her dream takes her on a fantastic adventure which is centred around the giving of a bead, the beauty and magic of nature and the power of the human spirit.

"Beads of courage was such a fundamental part of Yasmin's treatment," said Yasmin's mum, Louise Howes. "To help the charity continue its fantastic work and support other children was such an honour and privilege for the whole family."

Mark added: "The charity was set up by three families who had children with cancer so they're just a genuine family charity. The children have been through so much. During lockdown Yasmin had so many procedures – it was so inspirational it got me really behind the charity."

Wish Upon a Pony with Lifford Shillingford and Yasmin Howes
Wish Upon a Pony with Lifford Shillingford and Yasmin Howes

If you would like to help the charity, please like and share the video and make a donation to the charity by clicking here.

The full song on YouTube

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