Notting Hill Arts Club is not what you would expect.
Two giant wooden doors lead away from the bustling street noise of Notting Hill Gate into a small gig area with twinkling fairy lights. Despite its central location, it’s a surprisingly cozy and intimate venue.
As you walk down the stairs, you can see heartfelt testimonies of artists who have previously performed at the club painted onto the walls.
Lily Allen’s words headline arc across the top in blue: “It’s my spiritual home, where I played my first gig and I feel like I owe it to them for supporting me so much.”
Perhaps this is why live events manager Doug Ross hired the spot for the next ten months to host the Arkyard Sessions.
The night is partnered with Tearfund, a Christian charity with UK head offices in Teddington that provides international development and relief in more than 50 countries.
Doug’s 16 years in the music industry have earned him a wealth of experience.
“Last month we had rock, acoustic and reggae soul all in the same night. We strive to get a good mix across the three artists and we’re always trying to push the sonic boundaries.”
Since the sessions began, Arkyard have received multiple submissions from artists looking to play. They listen to every submission and seek to be encouraging and inclusive to all artists.
“I think we’ve got high standards. If we’re putting on a music night and people are paying money, coming out midweek in December, we want to make sure that they are coming to hear some great music.”
All Arkyard artists share a common element – their faith. Many of them are artists who don’t necessarily fit into the traditional moulds of Christian music but easily cross into mainstream music.
November 8th’s line up of artists featured close harmony sister duo Daughters of Davis, the almighty gospel voices of London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC) and smooth Yoruba ballads from Nigerian singer Dire Patel.
Izzy Tredinnick from the Tearfund events team said: “I love the way that we come together to such a great music venue in Notting Hill and have fun, but also how this night can overflow into communities in need that are going through really difficult moments.”
It doesn’t finish with people just leaving at the end of the night. There’s always a legacy. It almost feels like we’re making a noise and the sound reverberates all over the world,” she added.
“Our model is to help people lift themselves out of poverty. It’s about unlocking people’s potential, giving them the right help at the right time. The answers are often in the community, they just need to unlock them,” she said.
Doug said: “The work that Tearfund do around the world is incredible. The way they can turn their hand to immediate disasters like a war or a tsunami is amazing: they are very much on the pulse,” he said.
LCGC choir walked on to rapturous applause and filled up the stage. Their energy was off the charts and it felt like they filled every corner with the joy of their singing. The size of the small stage didn’t stop founder and principal of LCGC, Rev Bazil Meade, using all of his singers as he swapped sopranos and altos on and off stage in real time.
Rev.Bazil led the choir from the front with bouncy, gospel piano playing, accompanied with funky bass and drums that had the whole front row dancing.
“I think we need to have more of these type of facilities where anybody, whether you are part of the Christian faith or not, anybody can come and enjoy the art form that is on stage,” Bazil said.
A faith-filled night, open to anyone who wants to enjoy live music with a message of justice; the night was a mixture of gentle and strong tones. Dire Patel’s ‘let’s stand together’ song inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement sent out a message of unity.
The all-smiles sister duo warmed the crowd with funny anecdotes and sang melodiously into retro microphones redolent of the Billie Holliday era and the energy and musicality of LCGC was both memorable and spellbinding.
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