This fundraising concert organised by Nicole Raquel Dennis and Ryan Carter is a powerful reminder of how music and words can unite people as well as put across serious messages.
Bringing together a hugely impressive cast of performers, Turn Up London is a wonderfully vibrant fundraising concert that wonderfully combines a combination of live (at Cadogan Hall) and home performances with readings, poetry and speeches to raise awareness and funds for four important charities.
Expertly put together, the concert neatly and powerfully unites voices from across the West End, Broadway and activism to offer a really insightful concert about not only how the black community feel but also to highlight particular charities – which for the most part in all honesty I hadn’t heard of.
Throughout there is plenty of passion delivered performance wise from all of those participating – with Cedric Neal’s smooth and heartfelt performance of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Love’s in Need of Love’ and Obioma Ugoala’s powerfully passionate rendition of ‘Make Them Hear You’ from Ragtime are two highlights.
But it is also the way in which the singers are able to put their own mark on the songs – adding an extra sense of poignancy and focus on what the message of the song is. This was heard to great effect through Brittney Johnson and Alexia Khadime’s gorgeous duet of ‘For Good’ and Johnnie Fiori, Sharon D Clarke, Sandra Marvin and Brenda Edwards’ soulful and emotional rendition of ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ from Hairspray.
Of course, this wasn’t all about the music. There were a number of brilliant readings, speeches and poetry delivered throughout including Joe Aaron Reid’s reading titled ‘A Young Black Man’ which is particularly insightful and thought provoking. Every piece was picked for effect – and each one does pack a punch in its tone and message. Meanwhile, finding out more about the charities the concert was raising funds for including the The Bail Project, The Okra Project, The Black Curriculum and UK Black Pride was also enlightening and of course all are worthy causes.
While there was a serious message at the heart of this concert, there was plenty of fun alongside this as well, with Vinegar Strokes offering a really cheeky performance of ‘Juice’ and Natalie Kassanga, Kelly Agbowu and Nicole Raquel Dennis’ rendition of ‘I’m Every Woman’ was amazingly fun and filled with confidence. But it was ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ performed by Layton Williams, Marcus Collins and Rachel Adedeji that completed the show perfectly – reminding us all that matter how far we still have to go in eradicating racism and inequality, there is no reason why we can’t.
The sheer number of people involved in making this concert come to life is incredible and shows just what can be achieved when we all come together in this way – huge congratulations to all involved. Let’s hope that when we can all enter a theatre again that we have more concerts and performances like this!
By Emma Clarendon
Turn Up London is taking place again this evening at 7.30pm. To purchase tickets click here.