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Song for Bristol created with help from Filwood community

Picture Chris Dean Photo.

Knowle West residents and creatives have helped local pop music artist KALA CHNG produce a record for A New Song for Bristol.

The project was launched by Bristol Beacon in November 2020 – asking for new tracks created with or inspired by groups and individuals in the city – and KALA’S song Boombox is one of six chosen.

The public call-out was looking for a creative response to the past year of the pandemic – with the idea coming from a “mirrored time” in the city’s history during World War II, when local people “rallied round, singing songs together to bring light to those dark days.”

KALA, who grew up in Knowle West and works at Filwood Community Centre, says she could never have written the track without the memories of lockdown shared by local people. This took place in a Zoom workshop – and inspired her to create the song.

She wrote it during the third lockdown and her accompanying performance video has been match-funded by Knowle West Alliance with Lottery funding.

The song is a mixture of her signature pop with a Chinese influence – which has been a hit at many Knowle West Fests. 

KALA performing at a Knowle West Fest with a Chinese Dragon. Picture Tanya Hazell.

KALA says: “I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with the community and with Bristol Beacon on this, it’s been an amazing and learning experience.

“I also must thank the residents and creatives who took part in the sessions and shared so much so openly, and whose cheerleading, feedback, input and video content and ideas throughout the process really kept it feeling special and gave me direction, inspiration, and I really felt part of a team.”

Residents who worked with KALA were also part of Filwood Fantastic and other community projects run through Filwood Community Centre.

They said they had gained a lot from being part of the song creation and coming together as a group – commenting on drafts shared on What’s App and Facebook during the writing, which took several months to finish.

Artist Julian Wood who runs The Art of Kindness said: “It was great to be involved…It was a fab experience and I didn’t need any skills more than interest.”

And Hayley Edwards said: “I enjoyed being part of this and feel really proud with how it’s turned out and how the community came together as one.”

You can listen to Boombox and watch the video on YouTube: