August 16, 2017

Three young graduate musicians and the musical director from the legendary Alpha Institute (formerly Alpha Boys School) are making their way to Brixton in south London on 23 August to connect with local young musicians, for a week long project at Raw Materials studios. This special project, hosted by Raw Material, a key centre for young musicians  in the heart of Brixton and sponsored by UK ska band Madness (named after the 1967 Prince Buster song) and National  Baking Company Foundation in Jamaica is a partnership with Youthsayers Afrobeat and Ska youth band, led by Soothsayers front man Robin Hopcraft, Raw Material young artists, Raw Material’s creative programme manager Marc Brown and Madness.

This project is a celebration of the legacy and British heritage established by this school responsible for the education and musical development of Jamaica’s premiere jazz, ska, reggae and dancehall pioneers.

Alpha Boys Band in Kingston, JA circa 2017

Through workshops and live music performance young people at Raw Material will work with the Alpha musicians and musical director to record music, present a performance with the Youthsayers Afro Beat and Ska band and Raw Artist Development singers at Ritzy Cinema  on August 26th and there will be a special encore performance with Madness at the House of Common festival Clapham Common on 28 August.

Madness 1979
Madness circa 1979

Alpha Institute is a vocational school on South Camp Road in Kingston, Jamaica,  Alpha Cottage was founded in 1880 as an orphanage and it became renowned for the discipline it instilled in its pupils.  The music program began in 1892 and grew to include a large drum and fife corps and later a brass band. Alpha  has been credited with influencing the development of jazz, ska and reggae in Britain from the mid 1950s to the present day. Some of the Alpha past boys who made a name for themselves in England include Joe Harriott, Dizzy Reece, Rico Rodriguez and Eddie ‘Tan Tan’ Thornton.

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