The Bread and Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word Award was launched by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and Culture Matters in November 2017. It closed in February 2018. The aim of the new Award was to encourage songwriters and spoken word performers to write material meaningful to working class people and communities, and to encourage those communities to engage more with songwriting and spoken word. The Award was open to all, regardless of trade union membership.
We are very pleased at the success of the Award, which received a range of high quality submissions, often from people who might not otherwise enter competitions. The entries were judged by Chris Webb (CWU, Head of Communications), Boff Whalley (songwriter, fell-runner and formerly of Chumbawamba) and Chris Guiton (Culture Matters, Co-Editor). The judges were very impressed by the entries.
Dave Ward, General Secretary of CWU, said,
“I really welcomed this new partnership with Culture Matters. The arts and culture generally are vital to the labour movement and working class communities across the country. Proper access to the arts, sports and other cultural activities are important for all of us. State support needs to be re-balanced so that working people everywhere can enjoy cheap, accessible and good quality provision. We sponsored this Award because we wanted to encourage our members in the CWU, and working people everywhere, to express themselves creatively on themes that matter to them as workers. I think the results speak for themselves!”
Boff Whalley commented,
“There’s so much bad news in the world that it was inevitable that many artists would sing and speak predominantly about the bad stuff. But there’s also hope, pride and optimism out there. I was really encouraged that almost all the entries sounded like they were proper regional working class voices, and not just middle class writers/singers voicing working class concerns. There’s some brilliant stuff out there being sung and played and rapped and spoken.”
And Chris Webb said,
“I was taken aback by the quality of all of the entries. The level of understanding of the issues of our time mixed with the ability to turn this into the written word or song was inspirational. Music and creativity has a huge role in changing society and particularly engaging young people – it’s brilliant to witness it alive and kicking.”
The five, equal winners are:
- Bloque Capitals – ‘That Pebbledash Finish’
- Maddy Carty – Crying At the News (Justice For Grenfell)
- Maria Ogundele – ‘Scallops with Terry and Stan’
- Seonaid Stevenson – ‘Funeral For A Socialist’ and ‘School Pride’.
- Warlord Baker – ‘Escape’
We are exploring the viability of producing a CD featuring the winners and a selection of the runners up. Culture Matters is very grateful to CWU for sponsoring the Award; to the judges, for all their hard work; but, most of all, to the songwriters and spoken word performers who sent in such wonderful entries.
Chris Guiton is an Associate Editor of Culture Matters, and a freelance writer and project manager.