Musicians spanning a range of genres have been imparting the secrets of songwriting to eight lucky aspiring performers in Birmingham.
Part of an Arts Council England funded project for young blind and partially sighted people, The VIP Project is the brainchild of RNIB Connect community member Nicki Kelly.
Can you tell us about the project?
The VIP Project is a series of songwriting and performing workshops for 18 to 35 year olds who are visually impaired. It’s delivered by established and successful singer-songwriters in the music industry.
What inspired you to start the project?
I’m severely visually impaired and I also regularly perform. I noticed that there rarely seems to be other visually impaired people or disabled people in general.
So I wanted to start something, because there’s just nothing in the local community in Birmingham for visually impaired musicians. I wanted to give people a voice and hopefully empower and inspire them to pursue music.
How is it going so far, and what are your aims?
There are currently eight participants and they’re really engaged. To be able to be in a room with people that have so much success and talent is a huge opportunity, and they’re making the most of it.
So many people who write music just don’t get out there with it. They perhaps don’t feel ready or confident enough to perform their songs publicly. We want to give them that confidence. When you’re creative, the best part is playing to other people and seeing their reaction. We’re providing a platform for that.
Can you tell us a bit about your own music, and what advice would you give to those on the workshop?
I find writing a song that comes from your heart, then performing it and getting a good reaction, is almost like therapy. It’s what I live for. I want to convey that they don’t need to be perfect at this stage. You just need to keep creating, developing and improving.
What are your hopes for them once they finish the project?
We hope they’re able to unleash their creativity, and believe in themselves and their ability – that’s the main goal. I want them to continue to enjoy it, embrace their creativity and then the world is their oyster.