Exploring Cultural Appropriation, Appreciation and Honouring

The NVN is wholeheartedly committed to anti-racism and  to cultural honouring of songs. We have begun the journey towards putting this commitment into practice, as we see it as an integral part of the NVN’s role and work.

Black Lives Matter Commissioning Project

The Black Lives Matter Commissioning Project has been a massive project led by NVN members Fran André and Sian Croose, alongside African-American music specialist Dr Kathy Bullock, and supported by many singers and songleaders within our Network. The project has so far commissioned 8 black composers based in the UK and the US to share their perspectives in the form of songs for choirs.

Now that the songs have been written, they are available to buy as a whole set or individually for teaching to choirs. You can listen to the songs here and if you’d like to purchase any of them, you can do so at ChoirCommunity.

Reflections and explorations

We have put together this series of reflections and queries in the hope that it will help us all in our exploration of music and songleading in the context of wider conversations about racism, cultural honouring and appropriation.

These are challenging explorations, and we may feel some discomfort in facing them, but we invite you to let go of judgement and engage with an open and enquiring heart. We are not offering answers, as these are as diverse as our contexts, but we hope to help spark enquiry and conversation that will enrich all of our work as singers, song learners and song teachers.

The songs we sing don’t exist in a vacuum; they interact with the world in which we live. Songs and contexts change, just as people and communities change. Our understanding as individuals and as a community is constantly evolving and this document will be periodically updated to reflect this. We welcome your responses, and are hoping to set up an open blog-style mechanism for this very soon.

We will explore questions such as: How do we learn and teach songs? Who benefitted financially from the sharing of these songs? Who is in the room, and why are some people under-represented? How might we adapt our practice to be more inclusive across the board?

We have created a Touchstones video of some of the important points for consideration, to help us keep connecting with these enquiries when singing or preparing material to teach, and a longer Resource Framework.

Anti-Racism and Cultural Honouring – Touchstones

Exploring Cultural Appropriation, Appreciation and Honouring - A Resource Framework