As a freelance creative artist I use songwriting as a way to connect with people. I'm passionate about the power songs have to engage our memories and emotions and shift our focus to see things from a different perspective.
I love to work with people who would not otherwise be writing songs. Being involved in creating a new song can be very empowering for people and help build confidence. I often use themes of social history and shared culture, creatively exploring memories and life stories to create songs people will connect with. I approach sessions with a sense of fun, adventure and playfulness. I combine music, rhythm and creative writing techniques.
I've written songs with people in prison, people experiencing homelessness, people living with dementia. I've been songwriter in residence in a museum. I've worked in schools, young offenders institutes and care homes. I've worked with people facing all kinds of challenges in their lives - living with a drug addiction, trying to find refuge or asylum or caring for disabled relatives. I've written songs with people from aged 2 to 82. I've seen what a difference it can make, when you give people permission to explore their creativity in a safe and supportive setting.
I have a person-centred approach that is rooted in my background as a charity professional with over 20 years’ experience in the disability sector (for 15 years I was Communications and Campaigns Manager for a national charity called Carers UK). Ethics and safeguarding are always a first concern. I have strong project management and budgeting skills.
Organisations who have commissioned me as a songwriter include The People's History Museum, Age Exchange, Theatre in Prison, Studio 3 Arts, arthur + martha and Streetwise Opera.
If you have a project you'd like to talk to me about please contact me
Whisper to me alone (2020)
A pandemic epic. This project was conceived by Arts organisation arthur + martha working in partnership with The Booth Centre, Back on Track and Bury Art Museum. Using a mix of journals of writing, art and song lyrics we gathered experiences and insights of people who were affected by homelessness in Manchester during the Covid 19 crisis. I worked over the phone with people to write songs and record their voices, creating an album of 11 songs reflecting their time in lockdown.
"This is truly a folk musician of the 21st Century, who helps ordinary folk to sing their lives - and to be heard in all their beauty."
Phil Davenport, Director,
Arthur + Martha Arts Organisation
Our Chartist Heritage - Newport Rising Festival 2019
OCH are a heritage charity and as part of their annual arts festival commissioned a performance and two songwriting workshops. I held a protest song session with 60 school children at the Sennedd (Welsh Assembly) in Cardiff. I also did a songwriting workshop with Ambassadors of the Voices network for refugees and asylum seekers. One of their Ambassadors got up and sang the song as part of my performance at the festival.
"Matt’s sensitivity and interpersonal skills as an animateur are perfectly matched by the artistic quality of his performance, his meticulous historical research and the facility with which he brings each to bear on the other in an inclusive, humane and accessible way."
Dr Melinda Drowley, Chair of the Board of Trustees,
Our Chartist Heritage
Changing Stories. TiPP (Theatre in Prisons and Probation). 2018.
Changing Stories was an arts project designed to help participants speak about the life experiences that define who they are. I worked with men and women in three different prisons to create music and writing inspired by the stories that shape their lives. The workshops developed participants’ creative writing skills, they learned to play instruments, compose original music, write lyrics and perform live together as an ensemble.
Read a blog I wrote about one of the prison songwriting sessions
Moving Panoramas. arthur+martha. 2018
I was commissioned by arts organisation Arthur + Martha to work with them on a 4-month project with people who have experienced homelessness. My role was to encourage creative song writing. I worked with around 50 participants and collaborated with visual artist Lois Blackburn. Our aim was to find creative ways to embed history and creative writing into artwork, allowing participants to inhabit another skin, to see themselves in new ways. The project culminated in a performance, including many of the participants, at the People’s History Museum as part of Manchester Histories Festival 2018.