01 June 2012

All hands on decks

HACKNEY stars Leona Lewis and Labrinth were on hand to answer young residents’ questions at the launch of BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s Academy.

The three-week educational programme, which opened on 1 June and runs until 22 June, offers free practical workshops and Q&A sessions with celebrities and industry specialists at Hackney Picturehouse on Mare Street.

The day kicked off with 'Building a Beat' – a workshop run by professional producers and songwriters supported by Rising Tide, a Hackney-based, youth music charity for 13 to 25-year-olds. Young people learnt how to create their own track using the latest industry programmes.

The workshop was followed by 'Take it On' – a Q&A session with Leona and Labrinth, who were greeted by cheers and whoops of excitement from the audience. Questions were fired at the pair about what inspires them, how they battle their nerves and their life in the music industry.

Both artists spoke of their musical journey and gave advice about how they achieved their success. Labrinth said: “I always knew what I wanted to do – I kept that tunnel vision and never lost sight of achieving my dream. It’s the passion that takes you to where you want to be.”

Leona added: “I was bullied at school and music focused me and helped me to escape. I gave 100 per cent and never gave up.”

Inspired by the stars, audience members wrote down what they hoped to achieve in life. Messages written on the wall included ‘I want to become an inspiration to young people’, and ‘the sky is not the limit, you are.’

Resident Tiffany Sika-Dufie, 15, who attended the launch, said: “It was fantastic to learn about the artists and the industry and how they have remained true to themselves.”

The content for the Academy’s programme was driven by a steering group of 12 young people from the borough, including rap artist Shivz Dotz, 21. He said: “The steering group acted as the voice of Hackney, to talk about what’s hot, what’s not and what would appeal and inspire people like me.” 

Radio 1Xtra DJ Trevor Nelson, who grew up in Hackney, added: “This is a programme for you to meet people you might aspire to be, or meet people in an industry you aspire to work in.”

The Academy was launched for the run-up to the BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend two-day music festival, which will see 100,000 people enjoying headline acts such as Rihanna and Jay-Z at Hackney Marshes on 23 and 24 June.

Young people at the Academy launch

Young people at the Academy launch

Young people at the Academy launch Labrinth and Leona take questions A stellar line-up have backed the Academy Building a beat

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