Alpha Boys School project with Raw Material and Youthsayers

Three young graduate musicians and the musical director from the legendary ALPHA INSTITUTE (formerly Alpha Boys School) in Kingston Jamaica visited Brixton in South London on 23rd August to hook up with local young musicians, for a week-long project at Raw Materials studios. This special project, hosted by RAW MATERIAL, a key centre for young musicians in the heart of Brixton and sponsored by MADNESS, is a partnership with YOUTHSAYERS Afrobeat and Ska youth band, led by Soothsayers front man Robin Hopcraft, Raw Material young artists, Raw Material’s creative programme manager Marc Brown and MADNESS.

This project is a celebration of the legacy and British heritage established by this school responsible for the education and musical development of Jamaica’s premiere jazz, ska, reggae and dancehall pioneers.

Through workshops and live music performance young people at Raw Material worked with the ALPHA musicians and musical director to record music, present a performance with the YOUTHSAYERS Afro Beat and Ska band and RAW ARTIST DEVELOPMENT singers at the RITZY CINEMA on 26th August and a special encore performance with MADNESS at the HOUSE OF COMMON festival Clapham common on 28th August.

Alpha Institute Boys School is a vocational school on South Camp Road in Kingston, Jamaica, established in 1880 as a “school for wayward boys”, Alpha Cottage was founded in 1880 as an orphanage and it became renowned for both the discipline it instilled in its pupils and the outstanding musical tuition they received. The school has had its own band since 1892, originally a drum and fife corps, and later a brass band, following the gift of brass instruments from the Roman Catholic Bishop of Jamaica. The music program began in 1892 and grew to include a large drum and fife corps and later a brass band. The school has been credited with influencing the development of jazz, ska and reggae in Britain from the mid 1950’s to the present day. Some of the Alpha past boys who made a name for themselves in England include Joe Harriott, Dizzy Reece, Rico Rodriguez and Eddie ‘Tan Tan’ Thornton.

The project was a great success and we are looking to expand our partnership with the Alpha Boys Institute to develop future projects in the UK and as well as in Jamaica.

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