Welshman Martyn Joseph, one of the UK’s best-loved and most affecting singer songwriters is about to fulfil a long-held ambition, officially launching his own charitable trust to benefit both global charities and grass roots “people” projects in the UK and beyond.
Let Yourself Trust will get underway with three celebratory June gigs in Cardiff, Milton Keynes and Lancaster – and a special new album will mark the launch.
During a career spanning three decades with sales of over a quarter of a million albums, he has perhaps become as well known for his worldwide humanitarian work as for his powerful performances and high level connectivity with audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.
A gifted guitar player with a juggernaut voice, Joseph’s performances are always compelling, whether it’s an arts centre in his native Cardiff or a 5,000 strong crowd at the Royal Albert Hall. With five Top 50 chart singles to his name from Dolphins Make Me Cry to Working Mother and Let’s Talk About It in the Morning, his powerful and prolific material has garnered praise from music critics and a strong fan base with his uncanny melting pot of robust and fragile songs – roots to rock, blues to jazz, Americana to folk. He won the Best Male Artist title in the BBC Welsh Music Awards whilst his wistful There’s Always Maybe from penultimate album Under Lemonade Skies won the global Independent Music Awards Best Folk Song category.
A fearless songwriter, long dubbed “The Welsh Springsteen”, he has campaigned both in person and in song for countless causes, focusing on trade justice, third world debt cancellation and human rights. His high impact songs range from a first person narrative from the perspective of a Kosovo refugee (The Good in Me is Dead) to Five Sisters, recounting the fate of siblings killed in an Israeli attack on Gaza.
Martyn received an Amnesty International accolade for his work with the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra) back in 2002 and released The Great American Novel EP in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq with all proceeds benefitting War Child.
Since then he has worked alongside or taken on the patronage of several international agencies and organisations, from Advantage Africa to Guatemala’s children’s village Project Somos and Casa Alianza, which helps street children in Central America. World Vision, Canada’s The Stephen Lewis Foundation and Christian Aid are among other organisations to which he has turned his attention.
But it was a trip to Bethlehem for the Bet Lahem festival last year (where he will return this month) and in particular a visit to a children’s theatre project at a Palestinian refugee camp that triggered the formation of the Let Yourself Trust.
A board of Trustees was set up and legendary broadcaster Bob Harris agreed to become patron. Says Bob: “I was honoured to be invited by Martyn to be patron of his Let Yourself Trust. I have known Martyn for many years and seen him establish a reputation as one of the most articulate and fearless singer songwriters of his generation, becoming recognised worldwide as a performer of rare talent, courage, warmth and dedication. This will pull together the threads of his humanitarian work into a Trust to help those in need through music.”
Setting out to “provide a choice and a chance” the Trust aims to support a few projects each year for a four to six month period, highlighting their work to a wider audience through Martyn’s gigs and social networks. “The money raised during that time will go to support the current featured project and in time we would look to create an educational arm by funding visits to see the projects we are partnering first hand”, he says.
“To mark the inspiration that led to the Trust the Alrowwad Cultural and Theatre Society in Bethlehem’s Aida Refugee Camp will be the first funding project and we aim to deliver to them a range of creative tools from musical instruments to digital cameras, books and paint brushes.”
An Introduction to Martyn Joseph’s Let Yourself Trust
Named after one of his recent songs on the Songs for the Coming Home album (read our review), the Let Yourself Trust will be launched in the UK in June with three special consecutive “VIP” performances over one weekend in Cardiff, Milton Keynes and Lancaster – all proceeds from ticket and merchandise sales going to the Trust.
To mark the launch Martyn has recorded a new 11-track album Kiss the World Beautiful – Songs for the Let Yourself Trust with fresh recordings of some of his most affecting political and social justice songs including Till the End, Five Sisters and The Good in Me Is Dead, a song from his 2010 Tonypandy Project remembering the Rhondda valley miners of 100 years earlier and covers of Canadian singer songwriter Bruce Cockburn’s Call It Democracy and Woody Guthrie’s Deportees – the protest song about the 1948 Los Gatos Canyon plane crash with 28 migrant farm worker victims who were being deported from California back to Mexico. The album also unveils a striking new song Luxury of Despair, inspired by his refugee camps visit last year.
It is officially released on July 28 and distributed by Proper Music.
The first gig will be at Cardiff’s Norwegian Church Arts Centre on Friday, June 27– a landmark on Cardiff Bay waterfront and a former Norwegian sailors’ church, followed the next night by a performance at one of his favourite venues – The Stables at Milton Keynes, an evening hosted by legendary BBC Radio 2 producer and Trust patron Bob Harris. The final launch gig will be at Lancaster’s striking 1900s Ashton Memorial on Williamson Park on Sunday, June 29. Tickets for the Cardiff and Lancaster events are £40 (£75 for two) and will include a drinks reception and a free copy of the new Kiss the World Beautiful CD while tickets for Milton Keynes will be £20.
Fri, June 27 – CARDIFF Norwegian Church Arts Centre, Cardiff Bay
Sat June 28 – MILTON KEYNES The Stables, Stockwell Lane, Wavendon, Milton Keynes – Hosted by BOB HARRIS
Sun June 29 June – LANCASTER Ashton Memorial, Williamsons Park, Lancaster
Find out more here: http://www.letyourself.net/