Planet Earth


It's certainly a strange time to be British wondering where exactly the UK is headed.  I waver between giving in to a voracious need to devour the news trying to fathom it all out and long periods of time when I find the news too depressing and I need to succumb to the desire to avoid knowing anything outside my immediate sphere so that I can continue to function in a meaningful way. 

As a mixed race person, I truly feel like a citizen of Planet Earth so it's genuinely weird to be caught up in this nationalistic colonialist-inspired 'we're better than you' throwback in the form of this thing called Brexit.  And as my direction of travel as an artist looks ever outward, one of the greatest joys I am finding is experiencing the warmth that comes with taking my music across cultures to clubs, concert halls and international jazz festivals abroad witnessing first-hand musicians and audiences from all over the world being united by the language of music.  It's a beautiful way to remind everyone present how very similar we all are at our core, that we all share a common human experience no matter what trappings of language and customs and nationality we also wear - something fans of 'world' music have long-since known.   The feeling of being made welcome and having people 'get' the music when you are not from there is the precise opposite of us as a nation saying 'we don't want to be in your club', because collectively our goal musically is to remind ourselves that there is only one club to be part of. 

Last week's show in Vauréal on the outskirts of Paris, got me thinking again about how we will fare as a nation culturally if Brexit actually goes ahead.  It's not just the ease of travel for the likes of me and my musicians but also the reverse as fewer and fewer artists and musicians from all over the world will want to come here or be able to even if they still want to.  How impoverished will we be through this pursuit of otherness?  If Brexit does have to go ahead, here's hoping it is at least not at the expense of the open borders in our hearts and minds.  Every time I see a show featuring invited guests from abroad or get to go abroad to play I'm going to think of it as an act of Brexit-busting rebellion against a political landscape that seems to be trying to narrow our world.  Just don't anybody say it's 'the will of the people..'  I believe the will of the people is that everyone should have equal opportunities in this life.  I don't believe Brexit is the way to achieve that.  If politicians were really listening they'd concentrate on addressing the inequalities that prompted so many to vote leave and see the referendum for the blunt tool it really was.  If ever there was a definition of political 'correctness' gone mad, Brexit is surely it.


At Forum de Vauréal with Rob Updegraff on guitar.  Photo by Yanis Baybaud.

At Forum de Vauréal with Rob Updegraff on guitar.  Photo by Yanis Baybaud.