A young singer-songwriter has been presented with a new award named in honour of a another young songwriter.
Raquel Joseph (pictured above with her award) is the first ever winner of the Alice Gross Memorial Song Writing award. The talented youngster attends Brentside High School, in Hanwell, where she was handed the award by the deputy mayor of Ealing, Councillor Abdullah Gulaid.
Last year, Ealing Council’s music service set up the award in honour of Alice Gross, who was a promising musician and song writer. Alice also attended Brentside High and tragically lost her life in September 2014 when she was killed in Hanwell. Alice had hoped, one day, to have a career in music.
Raquel won the award for a song she wrote titled Crestfallen. It touches on the issue of depression and what it is like for a girl suffering from it. This is a major issue in schools across the country with one Department for Education survey finding that more than a third of 14 year-old girls report symptoms of distress and anxiety.
‘I wanted the listener to understand’
Her prize was a chance to record a song in a professional music studio. Raquel said: “This song was written about a girl suffering with depression, I tried to put myself in their shoes.
“The lyrics confer the struggle of depression and I wanted the listener to be able to understand and connect with them, even if they are not suffering from depression themselves. I wanted to give them an insight into the darkness and loneliness of the illness.
“Personally I think that it is something that people struggle to talk about and I feel it should be more widely spoken about in order to help sufferers overcome their battle and know they are not alone.”
The song writing award has been added to seven existing categories for young musicians and singers that are part of Ealing Music Service’s annual awards. These awards are designed to help talented students progress to their fullest potential and are particularly aimed at pupils whose families find it difficult to support the increased cost of tuition in line with their progression.
‘Raquel’s song carries a very important message’
Councillor Yvonne Johnson, cabinet member for children services, said: “This is an appropriate way to celebrate the life of Alice Gross by encouraging students from across the borough to perform music. Alice will always be remembered and this award offer an opportunity to share memories through something that she really loved doing.
“I am always so impressed when I go to different schools and see how many talented pupils there are. Raquel’s song carries a very important message which she sang beautifully, and I would like to say well done, her win is fully deserved.”
Why not get involved yourself?
The British Grove Studios in Chiswick, founded by Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits, is supporting the council’s Alice Gross Memorial Song Writing Award by offering the prize of a one-day recording session at the studios for the award winner. Applicants for the award must be in year 10 or 11 and either live or go to school in Ealing.
The 2018 Alice Gross Award nominations are now open. Pupils that have a passion for music and are in year 10 and 11 should upload an MP3 recording to the Ealing music service website.
Alice’s family have also set up Alice’s Youth Music Memorial Fund in support of the National Foundation for Youth Music to enable disadvantaged young musicians and singers to follow their musical passions. For more information visit the Alice Gross Memorial Fund.