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The story behind the BBC Radio 4 appeal

Have you heard our Radio 4 appeal? Did you catch the lyrics that were a call to protest injustice? Read on to find out more about the story behind the music.

February 13, 2020

Have you heard our Radio 4 appeal? Did you spot the trumpet in H and Leroy’s song for freedom? And did you catch the lyrics that were a call to protest injustice? Read on to find out more about the story behind the music.

The Radio 4 appeals tells the story of two men united by their Jamaican identity and a love of music but separated by their legal status to remain in the UK.

H has worked as a music session leader for Hear Me Out for over 10 years. Born 20 days after his mother got off the boat from Jamaica in 1961, he understands the fears of people who don’t feel secure here. Fortunately, his right to remain has not been questioned.

Leroy, a fellow Jamaican, was not so lucky. When Leroy met H in their first music session, Leroy had already been in Harmondsworth immigration detention centre next to Gatwick airport for many months. He described his experience as mental torture. Every day he lived in fear of being deported and with it, forever being separated from his son.

But a series of music sessions led by H Patten helped him escape the distress of not knowing if he would be granted leave to remain. H helped Leroy write the lyrics, inspired by the Reggae music tradition, that profoundly reframed how he dealt with the ordeal of detention.

Free yourself from oppression and shame

Free yourself from the fire and flame

When the flame rise do you run away

Or like Malcolm and Martin will you stay

Moses led his people to the promised land

Freedom from bondage we all understand

But what about the freedom that starts in your mind

Freedom is a goal we all have to find

Chorus:

Freedom oh freedom, freedom oh freedom

Freedom is a must I know

Freedom is a must I know

Freedom is a must I know

Freedom is a must I know

H also helped Leroy find the confidence to sing for the first time. Leroy later described their time together as the ‘best week of his life’ and was still singing to himself for weeks afterwards!

The experienced music listeners amongst you may have also noticed a trumpet on the track. Another man in detention had brought the trumpet in with him, as a prized possession, and relished the chance to jam in a group with others. A staff member also got involved by playing the bass, bringing together staff and detainees in a way never seen before.

If you’d like to donate, to help someone else like Leroy escape the distress of not knowing when they will be free, you can do so here.

Listen to H and Leroy’s song

Song of Freedom

Alex, H

With acknowledgement to Music for Change.

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