East London teenagers make music in fight against knife crime


East London charity Bonny Downs Community Association (BDCA) rolled out the red carpet this weekend for talented young locals who have recorded new music to help them speak out against Newham’s knife culture.
The music was premiered at an event on Saturday evening in front of their friends, families and community leaders at The Well Community Centre in East Ham. They created the music during BDCA’s ‘Go Wild’ summer scheme, in partnership with Community Albums, a charity that uses music and media to help develop people and give communities a voice.

During a series of workshops, the young people collaborated to write, record and produce two songs about their experiences and feelings on knife culture and the wave of youth violence that is deeply affecting them and their communities. The project also leaves a lasting legacy of a mobile music studio which BDCA will bring to other young people in the area.

One of the teenagers, whose 17-year-old cousin was stabbed to death, provided inspiration for the song ‘Darkness into Light’, describing how status on the streets can never be as important as a life. The music video is available at vimeo.com/371138854.

Raniyah, age 13, helped to create the song ‘3 Pillars’ based on three things her father always told her, including his message to make sure you value your life as you’ll never get it back again. The music video is available at vimeo.com/user11315378.

D’Quan, age 12, was an attendee at the event and said: “I hope the music will help people to make people think and put their knives down, and that this event will help the community come together to bring peace and hope to the next generation”.

The event is one of a growing number of community-led actions as people across across Newham fight back against youth violence and is the latest in a series of collaborations involving BDCA and local churches, which include an event in June at which knives seized from the streets were turned into sculpture, and the launch of Newham’s only on-street knife bin outside the Stratford Salvation Army church in July.

David Mann, Chair of Bonny Downs Community Association and Minister at Bonny Downs Baptist Church, said

“Too often society tends to pigeonhole young people as the problem, whereas this powerful music shows that they can – and must – be part of the solution to youth violence.

It also proves that Newham is bursting with talent and, thanks to the legacy from this project of a new mobile music studio, we look forward to helping more young people to make their voices heard and be changemakers in their communities.”