Paul Field - Composer of 'Cargo' - Why He had to Write This Anti-Slavery Musical
Composer Paul Field wanted to write a musical to celebrate the bicentenary of the abolition of the 19th century slave trade in 2005. But when he started researching he discovered a shocking fact "I was very shocked to find out the extent of the slave trade today is far bigger than it ever was." The renowned composer and songwriter, responsible for Cliff Richard's 'Millennium Prayer' hit, and recipient of an Ivor Novello Award did what comes naturally to him...he started writing! The result was the musical 'Cargo'.
"Its not a musical in the sense of a west end musical, it is songs, music and narrative against a backdrop of video and picture images. It deals with Wilberforce and the work of the abolitionists and then contemporary slavery.
"One particularly poignant song is about a girl who was trafficked...The musical moves on to make a link between Fairtrade and poverty and trafficking. Its usually the poorest people who are the most vulnerable to be trafficked." says Paul.
(PICTURES: ABOVE: PAUL FIELD, BELOW: CARGO)
The composer who discovered his flair for writing lyrics and music at the age of 13, in a church youth club band called 'The Nutshells', admits his research into the past and present of slavery took him on a huge learning curve.
"I read a lot and researched a lot on the history and the people who have written on the contemporary slave trade. I Went to Hull, the home of William Wilberforce and its university which has a special department dedicated to all things to do with slavery."
His journey of discovery soon prompted him to want to provoke social action with 'Cargo' and explore different directions.
"Cargo originally started out pretty much as an historic musical, based around the amazing story of the abolitionists of the past like William Wilberforce. But when I started researching I found I wanted to get involved in raising awareness of what unchosen calls human trafficking. My wife went out to Mumbai to see firsthand the work done there with girls rescued from trafficking." says Paul.
The first performance of 'Cargo' was in Hull City Hall in 2007. Performances were held from 2007 to 2009 in diverse locations including small church halls and Bristol venues. Paul thinks that his lyric 'unchosen' in one of the show's songs contributed to Trish Davidson's naming of the Unchosen charity. Cargo is being performed on the 27th October at the Forum, as part of the Unchosen Film Festival in Bath and Bristol.
"As a crime human trafficking hs been very overlooked." says Paul.
Paul has a 30 year career which includes writing 'All That Matters' and 'Thief In The Night' for Sir Cliff, children's musicals, rock, pop and gospel. His touring life began with The Nutshells as they toured with Sir Cliff Richard, performing their own songs and providing backing vocals for the star.
The songwriter, composer and lyricist has recently relocated to Devon, after spending 30 years in South London. Describing his talents as 'natural' to him, has perhaps an 'ambidextrous' approach to his compositions. "I can being given the music and create the lyrics - from something as simple as a title, or get inspiration from say something in the newspaper, but equally I can come up with the musical side of things." he says.
But even in his new Devonshire home, Paul has been confronted with the realities of human trafficking.
"I was at a performance in Plymouth and we often have representatives from the Police come along and talk about trafficking. I was very shocked to hear a Policeman talk about the rescue of young women from an enforced brothel situation in a chocolate box Devon village - not far from where we live."
Paul wants us to think about where we buy our latest bargain clothing from too though. "Part of trafficking is enforced labour, child labour, sweat shop labour. I want people to make a link between their cheap t-shirts and where that clothing actually comes from. Nowadays there are people trafficked into America to be house slaves and provide domestic labour too."
Animation, video images and four live musicians, make up the Cargo performance. "There are visuals as a backdrop, partly with pre-recorded stuff and party live music played. Coco Mbassi a singer from the Ivory Coast, saxophonist, Mike Horton, and another singer, Sadie Chamberlain will join Paul on stage for 'Cargo', in Bath.
Find Out about 'Cargo's performance at the Forum
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