22 October 2014

The emerging rap and gospel artist Victizzle played a gig at the John Innes Youth Centre in South Wimbledon last Saturday 18th October, at an event celebrating Black History Month. 

Victor ‘Victizzle’ Akata is a 22-year-old MOBO award-winning artist who mixes rap, gospel and Afro beat to a unique and urban blend that is very much his own. He said:

“Although I started making music in my bedroom, I do remember going to a youth club when I was younger. I even remember taking part in a scheme where we met musical talents and learnt from them, which was great”

“Recently I have been gravitating more towards African music, like Afro beat. There is a growing scene for contemporary African music here in London, which it’s great being part of”.

“I think events like this Black History night are really important because they create unity. However, it should be something people thought about all the time, not just this one month a year”.

Black History Month

The John Innes youth centre is run by YMCA St Paul’s Group and offers music, arts and sports projects for young people aged 13 to 18 who are living in the borough. The young people are in charge of organising the gig nights.

Sam Baker, a Jack Petchey Award winner and volunteer at the youth centre, was one of the organisers of the event. Before Victizzle took to the stage, he made a public speech about the theme for the night. He said:

When I think of Black History I think of people who struggle, living day by day in poverty but also people who made a name for themselves and are well known in the world. But more importantly, when I think of black history I think of love, peace, togetherness and happiness brought to the world by very inspirational people, like for example Rosa Parks, Dr Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela who fought for the rights of black people and tried and succeeded in bringing black and white people together”.

Showcase talent & be inspired

Chris Douglas, Music Room Co-ordinator at YMCA St Paul’s Group says the young people chose to celebrate Black History Month out of an interest in black heritage and urban music. He said:

Black History Month Events are relatively new for YMCA music room. The idea sparked from young people’s interest in the background of black heritage and the music created by people of black origins. Many of the young people who attend music room studio are into the urban music and influenced by music of black origin. This will be a great moment for the young people and YMCA St Paul’s Group to showcase their talents and to be inspired by someone as experienced as Victizzle”.

In the audience were Matthew and Simeon, two brothers aged 16 and 18 who lives in Tooting.  They both thought the Music Room band’s performance of the 1960’s classic ‘Hit the Road Jack’ was a highlight of the night.

Younger brother Simeon said:

“I like rap music, and look forward to seeing Victizzle, whereas my brother, who studies music in college, is not that into rap and urban music. This is the first time we’ve come here – it’s really cool”.