2019 CultureMix Review

Lea Tasha Lauren and Aisha wearing Inspiration Arts carnival costume at Carnival of the World Reading UK 2019 by Mary Genis CultureMix

A year of positive changes for CultureMix with new partnerships, an independent record label, a growing team of music teaching specialists, and a move for RASPO.

2019 heralded a raft of changes for CultureMix.  The second year as an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (ACE NPO) continues to advocate CultureMix as a credible arts company that helps CultureMix Arts presents the Peace and Love Concert featuring Tippa Irie, Horseman, Donstrumental Dubs and the new EP from rising reggae star Junior Watsonyoung talent to realise their dreams as music and culture professionals.

CultureMix Records
CultureMix Records launches as a new label set up to support emerging talent. With rising reggae artist Jnr Watson as the label’s first signing he records an album’s worth of his original material supported by music producer Don ‘Donstrumental’ Chandler and engineer James ‘Jaime’ Zugasti – both Grammy award winners.

The recordings took place at BBMC Studios (aka Theorem Music Village), the historic UK hub attracting reggae artists from around the world. An Elephant Room Films music video accompanying the first single ‘Soothe My Soul’ is due for release in early 2020.

Jnr performed at the Purple Turtle Bar for The Peace and Love Concert supporting dancehall legend Tippa Irie. With radio airplay including on BBC 1Xtra Rodigan’s Reggae Jnr is definitely a new reggae artist to look out for.

Soothe My Soul by Jnr Watson teaser trailer

CultureMix Music Centre
CultureMix relocated RASPO and its offices to Caversham Centre after three positive years of partnership with Activate Learning providing talent development of music students at Reading College which culminated in a performances at Readipop Festival.

The new accommodation is thanks to RABBLE Theatre (previously known as Reading Between the Lines) who offered the share of temporary space for the orchestra.

The CultureMix Steel Band Festival at The Hexagon Theatre 2019 - image by Robert Varga PetersonAt Caversham Centre The CultureMix Music Centre continues to grow with flourishing Bootcamp sessions for families and beginners to experience the culture of the steel pan, and one to one music sessions for children who want to learn drums, keyboard and bass guitar.

RASPO Steel Orchestra
The award winning steel band remains in demand for parties, weddings, and outdoor events including the Black History Month Windrush Event at Apollo, The Cultural Awards at the Hilton Hotel, World Party Basingstoke, Wateraid Raft Race, Onyx Magazine Launch in Oxford, and usual annual appearances at EAT Reading, a performance and steel pan music workshop marquee at Reading Carnival, a procession float at London Notting Hill Carnival, and for the Christmas Lights Switch on and The Calypso and Carols Concerts in Reading.

Schools Education and Steel Band Festival
CultureMix delivers a comprehensive schools education programme including weekly curriculum music lessons and clubs reaching seven hundred children a week at fifteen primary and secondary schools across Berkshire and Hampshire.  More

The annual Steel Band Festival showcased the musical achievements of the gifted and talented children in school steel bands with a celebratory concert to a packed auditorium at The Hexagon Theatre Reading.

A year in 3 minutes – CultureMix Review 2019 dedicated to Dito D’Oxossi

Carnival of the World
The fourth Carnival of the World returned to Reading with compere Steve Macaulay running live stage with performances from Ghanaian drummers Osegyefo, Vocal Networking, NDotWavez, reggae artists Aqua Livi and Earl 16, and RASPO Steel Orchestra. The Broad Street Parade followed with a walking procession of dancers, percussionists and masqueraders with parasols and flags.

Peace and Love Concert
Dancehall legend Tippa Irie returned to Reading with a live band for a free Peace and Love Concert at The Purple Turtle Bar featuring Jnr Watson’s first performance as a solo artist. More

Professional Development
Aynsley Lynam joins the CultureMix team as a Schools Music Tutor bringing his knowledge and experience from playing with RASPO for many years.  

Don Chandler continues with CultureMix to develop talent to a professional level. The Grammy Award winning producer helps manage the record label and is the producer for Jnr Watson’s music.

Nathifa Jordan joins the East Midlands Caribbean Carnival Arts Network (EMCCAN) board contributing her business knowledge to the boardroom for her first trustee position.

Jamah Lynam broadens his skills as a Schools Music Tutor adding Urban Songwriting to his music leader portfolio.

Head of Music Paul Watson launches as reggae artist Jnr Watson recording an album including his first solo single with accompanying video.

Fundraising
The popular Calypso and Carols Concerts are annual fundraising events in Reading City Centre. With CD’s for sale and donations accepted the funds help to maintain free places for children and young people at RASPO’s workshops. More

Awards, Membership and Media
Mary joins the Reading Festivals Group (RFG), to enhance Reading’s existing festivals through partnerships. Mary continues her voluntary board trustee work with the Museums Partnership Reading – made up of The Museum of English Rural Life and Reading University; art charity Jelly; as chair of Black mentoring charity Refocus; and for Carnival Village Trust (CVT) in it’s second year of Dito D'Oxossi Afoxé Ylê de Egbá portrait by Robert Varga Petersondelivering London Notting Hill Carnival.

Farewell to Dito D’Oxossi
Dito D’Oxossi the leader of Afro Brazilian percussion group Afoxé Ylê de Egbá promoted Afro Pernambuco culture in the hillside community of Alto José do Pinho preserving the Yoruba traditions of Black people brought as slaves from Nigeria to NE Brazil. He sadly passed away on 15 December 2019 and our hearts go out to his community and family.

A master percussionist and and singer Dito and Ylê de Egbá left a lasting and positive influence on CultureMix and RASPO as part of a successful international collaboration exchange in 2006 and 2018. More.