Raw Roads is a touring programme run by Brixton-based music charity Raw Material, working with young people to develop creative talent around the country. Barney Evison was at their 2015 showcase, the culmination of a year’s workshops and coaching to inspire budding musicians, actors, writers and filmmakers.

Earnest and Dylan, young Roma rappers from Folkestone, working the crowd at Raw Roads showcase

Ranging from a rap about domestic abuse to a short play highlighting the lack of childcare provision, the performances were hard-hitting, entertaining and intensely personal.

Rock quartet Bow Ties at the Rave perform ‘Tunnel Vision’ at Raw Roads showcase

Tyrese, a 15-year-old rapper from Nottingham, wowed audiences with a flawless delivery of his song ‘They Cannot Put Me Down’. Kicked out of school and facing challenges, this song was about his determination to make it in life. Another young Nottingham artist, Sian, also just 15, dedicated her song ‘A Kiss From A Fist (Walk Away)’ to people experiencing domestic abuse.

“We asked them; if you had a button to shut people up, what is the one thing you’d want to say to them?” said Shir Freibach, creative director and manager of the project. “It’s all designed to inspire young people and give them the invitation – if you’re actively creative and you pursue it, you can go places.”

George with a heartfelt rendition of his song ‘For All I’ve Done’

Raw Roads 2015 visited Folkestone, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Nottingham and finished in London. In each city, the week-long workshops began with a surprise piece of street theatre called ‘Invisible’, directed by Shir and written by local rapper Potent Whisper. “We gathered the kids to take them to the venue then stopped on the way to see a busker – who was actually an actor,” Shir tells me.

The busking show was then broken up by another actor playing a policeman and things start to heat up. The team wanted to highlight invisible issues in society, such as immigration and homelessness, and show that art can be exciting and subversive. Apparently things got pretty hairy in Nottingham: “we were almost arrested for impersonating a policeman,” says Shir.

The atmosphere in the Prince of Wales on Thursday night was upbeat, positive and welcoming – all the performers got cheers and claps from the audience. It’s the first time a lot of the performers have met but they’re delighted to support their peers and encourage other young artists.

Singer-songwriter Tagz, a member of the Raw Roads artistic team, in her own song ‘Merkahbah’

The evening is also a rare networking opportunity for new creatives, with numbers and cards flying and the revolving doors of potentially intimidating and elitist industries jammed open for a short window.

Tyrese started writing lyrics at the age of 6, and for him this is a great experience of performing to a crowd. He got involved with Raw Roads through his school, and now hopes to pursue music as a full-time career.

Another young rapper, Martin, 15, also found his confidence: ““It was perfect, I feel good now, after performing to an audience.”

“When we say perform, we mean have your say,” says Shir, “not just fame and fortune. What they have to say matters – it would be a social crime not to do these sorts of projects.”

The night was rounded off by performances from charismatic rapper Tony Wilson followed by achingly cool Tank and the Bangas – all the way from New Orleans. Just a little more inspiration for the budding artists in the audience.

Tank and the Bangas perform at the Raw Roads showcase

Blog post by Barney Evision.

Barney is half of the Arts editorial team at the Brixton blog. He particularly likes to write about Brixton’s musical and literary scenes, and has interviewed local writers and bands as well as written the odd gig review. Get in touch with him at arts@brixtonblog.com, or you can find him tweeting @BarneyEvison.

All rocking with New Orleans vibes down at Raw Material!
Capital Xtra Music Potential had a huge turnout on 16 July with the all day music industry event. Workshops, production sessions, songwriting and an industry panel were the format for the day all rounded off with a stunning set from New Orleans artists Tony Wilson and Tank and the Bangas. Organisers Industry in the Streets and hosts Raw Material made the day a great success for all. Music Potential moves on to Birmingham and will culminate in a week intensive course at BCE- Big Creative Education in East London, with a final performance event at Rich Mix.

Raw Sounds put on the best show we have seen last night in the Live Room at Raw. Packed to the roof, the two hour show was non stop new tunes, amazing performances and live music, all hosted by Lara Lee fresh from The Voice, or, as we like to call her, Flo! Caribbean food, a great audience and some lively improvisation finished off the evening leaving a great taste in our hearts and minds. Thanks to all you talented people out there!


Raw Material’s cultural and performance tour was the highlight so far of my 2015 artistic experience. Having the opportunity to introduce the crew to the sights and sounds of New Orleans, the city I call home, was an honor.

Raw Material brought a young vibrant crew of emcees/singers who not only boasted infectious, youthful energy but impeccable songwriting and performance skills well beyond their years. The instrumental backing provided by the seasoned leadership of Raw Material was an honor to work with and has definitely left a positive impression on the individuals and organizations they interacted with while in the Crescent City.

The Raw crew began with an opening reception/meet and greet event at the historic Tekrema Center for Art and Culture, hosted by Greer Goff Mendy. Several local New Orleans musicians, performers & poets gathered to share their artistic visions and welcome the members of the Raw crew. It was a beautiful display of art with a historic New Orleans setting. As a traveler, it is important to me to experience the most genuine cultural experience in respect to the people of that area. Raw Material connected with local New Orleans musicians, renting their equipment and space for rehearsal, resulting in impromptu jam sessions and cultural lessons heard from the mouth of the New Orleanians who lived it!

After finally getting them out of the hotel, the crew dined at Neyow’s known for their authentic Creole cuisine. Raw Material began their musical journey at the Resurrection After Exonneration (RAE House) headed by John Thompson, an ex-felon exonerated after being wrongfully convicted. Raw served as the musical guests to a platform of conscious poets, during RAE House’s monthly cultural programming artistically exploring the black male identity and pride.

The next show took place at New Orleans up and coming, underground venue, Gasa Gasa, Raw showcased with several hot New Orleans hip hop bands for the RAWKUS: International Hip Hop House Party! The tour concluded with a meet the artists’ workshop  & performance at the university of New Orleans!

Again, it was such an honor to welcome the Raw Material crew to my home, and to the people that make up this city both artistically and culturally. It is amazing to have developed such a relationship with an organization, I now consider as family! I look forward to the future and many more cross cultural exchanges, such the Raw Roads International tour!

With gratitude,

Tony Wilson 

Teamvision  Entertainment