Invisible Folk is delighted to announce its fourth Arts Council Grant and will be working with the Cowper & Newton Museum in Olney to create a six month project. #AG250 #amazinggrace
John Newton was Curate in charge of St.Peter and St.Paul's Church when he wrote the words to Amazing Grace for his New Year's Day sermon in 1773. Previously Captain of a slave trading ship he later became a campaigning abolitionist.
Our project is in three stages, firstly to interview subject matter experts. We will create podcast conversations with historians Tom Jones and James Walvin, curator Marylynn Rouse, musicologist Martin Clarke and folk singer and activist Judy Collins. We will also interview widely to discover contemporary attitudes to historic slavery.
The second phase will bring together Angeline Morrison, Cohen Braithwaite Kilcoyne and Jon Bickley to visit the Cowper and Newton Museum and to write new songs and tunes inspired by the life of John Newton, the Olney Hymns and Slave trade.
The final stage will be a performance of the new songs in concert at the Cowper and Newton Museum (June 2023). We'll be joined by the Fusion Choir, a diverse children's choir from the Queen's Park district of Bedford.
Tom Jones (left) Olney historian is seen being interviewed by Invisible Folk's Jon Bickley (right) in the courtyard of the Cowper & Newton Museum. Tom talks about John Newton's life; what brought him to Olney, his life as a preacher and hymn writer, his relationship with Cowper and his journey from slave trader to abolitionist.
Professor James Walvin OBE is a world renowned authority on the transatlantic slave trade and has written extensively on the subject. James describes a worldwide economic system which held the slave trade in place for so long. It was protected and supported by the British Government and penetrated every walk of British life.
Dr Martin Clarke is a musicologist at the Open University. He talks about the music in Newton's sermons, the 'West Gallery' music of the time, and how the most famous tune associated with Amazing Grace came about so long after the words were written. Finally he reflects on the iconic performances that made it one of the most loved songs of all time.
Marylynn Rouse is founder of the John Newton Project, a charity established to make available previously unpublished sermon notes, letters and writings by John Newton. She has written extensively about Newton's life and his remarkable ability with languages and the profusion of writing and scripture that gave rise to Amazing Grace.
Judy Collins has been a beloved and admired folk singer and activist since the early 60s. In 1970 she had a worldwide hit with Amazing Grace that went a long way to making it the universally known and loved hymn it is today. Indeed it proved to be a talisman in the dangers, toils and snares of her personal life.
Jon Bickley is main interviewer for Invisible Folk as well as a composer, poet, folksinger and ideas man.
Jon formed Invisible Folk in 2016 along with Producer and Sound Recordist Steve Yarwood.
Singer, songwriter, academic; Angeline Morrison's star is rising. Her recently released album The Sorrow Songs: Folk Songs of Black British Experience reflects the lives of England's historic black population. These are stories about real people, real places, and real events.
Jo has spent over 25 years in the creative arts and media industry working with the BBC, Bedford Creative Arts and the UK Centre for Carnival Arts. She also runs her own company Just Purple Presents producing events and workshops that inspire and bring people together.
Jon is project leader and one half of Invisible Folk. He is a composer, poet and folksinger.
L to R: Annette Burrows, Bob Templeman, Jon Bickley & Diana Stone