Communion Records have teamed up with Ministry of Stories to present ‘Share More Air’, an album featuring lyrics by east London children and music by artists including Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Matthew and the Atlas, Ben Folds, Marcus Foster and more.
An extraordinary collection of songs about cats on missions, friends and enemies, and loving your mum, ‘Share More Air’ is a unique songwriting collaboration between the Ministry of Stories – east London’s writing and mentoring charity with 56 children aged 8–13 – and Communion Records. Inspired by a songwriting partnership between author Nick Hornby, a co-founder of the Ministry of Stories, and musician Ben Folds, the album is a remarkable showcase of what happens when lyrics written by children are interpreted through the music and voices of grown-ups.
Introducing the Ministry of Stories
Beginning in October 2012, at a series of Ministry of Stories after school club workshops on Hoxton Street, local children were invited to think about how songs and lyrics are written and how they tell stories. Led by songwriters Rachael Castell and Danilo Walde, they discussed what they liked and didn’t like about songs; and how songs can express thoughts and feelings.
All had the freedom to write about whatever they wanted. Their lyrics – about pets passing away, superhero hotdogs, SATs exams and roller-skating – show how children’s concerns and interests can differ so much from adults. By the summer of 2013, they were in a recording studio with professional musicians. And from this came the 13 tracks on ‘Share More Air’.
Nick Hornby for the Ministry of Stories says: “We wanted to give the kids the opportunity to see written work transformed. I suppose the very basic goal is to improve the literacy of inner-city children by teaching them that writing is fun and isn’t necessarily what they think it is.
Everything they like is written; songs are written, video games are written, movies are written. We hope we give the kids confidence, the chance to think outside the box and make them realise that it’s possible to make livings in these fields.”
Rich Engler and Jamie Emsell from Communion Records say: “From the moment we talked to the Ministry of Stories guys about this project it seemed like a very cool idea. But even we were surprised by what a genuinely great record ended up getting made – it’s fun, and it’s moving, and it’s a testament to the great energy, care and creativity that went into it from both the children and the artists. We are proud to have been part of it.”
Bryan Mora Rodas, age 9, says: “How you write songs – you have to use your imagination. You have to think of raps, cool raps that rhyme, or sometimes just think of your emotions, or things about the world.”
Ben Folds and special guests – The Enemies, lyrics by Zayd
Air – Ajimal
The Enemies – Ben Folds
Swim Easy – Matthew and the Atlas
Franky – Emily Barker
All About My Mum – Marcus Foster
Round and Round – Benjamin Francis Leftwich
Love Song – Rachel Sermanni
Michael Jazz – Skinny Lister
The Sea – Foreign Fields
Luke and Jack and the Super City – Old Man Leudecke
Vinnie the Cat – Tom Williams
Elements – Jamie Parisio
I Know Where Everything Is Music – Ben Fletcher
The Fire and the Footprint – The Wild Rye