Fazer from N-Dubz gives seven unknown urban musicians a crash course in classical music, before they perform with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall.
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I'm a rapper, musician and music producer.
I'm best known as an urban artist,
but last year I got to play a set with the world renowned
BBC Symphony Orchestra
and ever since, I've been a huge fan of classical music.
It was like the most overwhelming experience in music that I've had
cos it was like, "Wow, it's all live instruments
"and real musicians, like 3D music, music in high definition."
It's like, "You ain't getting no music like this through a computer,
"I'll tell you that much."
I was lucky to have such an amazing opportunity.
It really opened my eyes to a new genre of music,
but I'm aware that most young people still think classical
is stuffy and boring.
What kind of people do you think listen to classical music?
Posh people! Yas, yas!
With opinions like these,
I think a lot of youngsters are missing out on something special...
and I'm worried about where
the classical audience of tomorrow will come from.
To see if other people can be converted to classical
as easily as I was, I'm taking a group of young musicians
who prefer beats to Beethoven
and setting them a mind-blowing challenge.
In under two months we're going to be playing at this year's BBC Proms
at the world renowned Royal Albert Hall.
My crew is called The 7 Chapters
and every member has been picked for their raw musical talent...
be it rapping, singing or playing an instrument.
One member of my troop is 17-year-old rapper Curtis.
My name's Curtis McCalla, I'm from Harlesden,
also known as Harlem, northwest London.
We call it Harlem because it's full of hustlers,
it's the same thing in Harlem in New York.
There's people that have been standing on the same corner
for five years doing the same thing.
Everyone's just trying to be the biggest and baddest man.
To help turn his back on a life of gang culture and crime,
Curtis needed a new focus - and that lifeline was rap music.
I don't want to be still on the block when I'm 40.
I've got to make something happen.
And music was the only thing I was good at.
I'm convinced that Curtis has the raw talent to make it big.
But right now, he's struggling for inspiration.
My rhyme scheme right now is sounding pretty basic.
And I'm not in primary school no more,
so I shouldn't be doing basic rhymes.
To help him find his groove again,
I've arranged for Curtis to have a rap masterclass with
George The Poet.
Using social media websites,
the 21-year-old Cambridge University student
has brought poetry to a new generation
and has even toured with top MC Wretch 32.
But just like Curtis,
he started off as a rapper on the gritty streets of northwest London.
With such similar backgrounds,
I'm hoping George will be a real inspiration.
The way I write, I'm led by whatever I want to talk about,
so I organise my thoughts in a certain way.
So I get a first line down
and then I start brainstorming things that rhyme with that,
and the more you brainstorm,
your brain becomes better at picking out rhymes.
So like even when you're just chilling
and you're not even trying to write, you just notice how things link up.
And I think my advice to you
would be just try and pay as much attention to language as you can.
The different use of language, whether it's written or spoken.
When someone talks a bit different from you, pay attention
because they're showing you different ways to use language
which you could use in your rhymes.
George writes from the heart and keeps his subjects real.
So will he be impressed with the rap that Curtis has prepared?
It's time to find out.
Slowly turning my dreams into reality,
I guess that's why certain man are mad at me.
I was raised by the roadside, witnessed many cold nights,
even had somebody close die.
RIP to Big T, I know you're watching over me.
You got to understand to oversee,
so hopefully one day I'll take my talent overseas.
Chasing my dreams, I got to make it.
The best things tend to come from the worst places.
Now what do you think of it?
I think it's perfect in terms of the bars, what you're saying is real,
the only thing I think about is your delivery.
Some people will say you should project your voice more.
I don't think you need to project your voice.
You're going to have a mic on your performance.
I think you can say it as calm as you want,
but you just need to pace your words so you don't fumble them.
Make sure that you pronounce your words with purpose
so they take you seriously.
They don't just think "Oh, he's rapping,
"I'm not going to be able to follow it so I'll just vibe to the flow
"and when he's done I'll catch the chorus again."
And don't be scared to lose words cos words work for you.
You don't work for words.
You make them do what you want to get your message out.
Sometimes you're trying to express that certain idea,
but it doesn't have to be said how you're saying it.
The last line you say,
"The best things tend to come from the worst places."
That's real, but I know that the words "tend to"
those two words can be substituted for "can,"
and if they are, they're less likely to trip you up.
If you slow down "The best things," it doesn't have to be rushed.
The best things can come from the worst places.
You could stretch that out. You see what I'm saying?
Music puts me at ease, ain't nothing else that I need.
Chasing my dreams, I got to make it.
The best things can come from the worst.
You see what I did? You see that?
Yeah, I see that! I see that! I see that!
He's been in the game for a very long time,
so he's got a lot of knowledge and stuff
and like and obviously he's been doing it for so long
he knows different flow patterns,
different ways of putting things across,
so I definitely learnt a lot from him.
And George is keen to stress that it's not just the words you say
that make a rap work well, it's how you say them.
Anything that sounds rushed makes you sound like a amateur
cos unnecessary breaths can be like unnecessary words,
they can just mess up the flow later on,
so later on you're rushing to make the bar fit.
You see what I'm saying?
Try it out from, "I think out the box."
Me, I think out of the box,
I ain't trying to go back to supplying them rocks,
look, I had a dream like MLK, he told everything will be OK.
One day I'm sure I'll make it out of this god forsaken place.
Boom. Perfect! You see what I'm saying?
George has stressed the importance of clear pronunciation
and he's helped Curtis by simplifying his rhyme structures
and finessing his timing.
George broke it down to me and made me see it totally differently,
Me, I think out of the box,
I ain't trying to go back to supplying them rocks,
look, I had a dream like MLK, he told me everything will be OK.
One day I'm sure I'll make it out of this god forsaken place.
He basically broke down my verse and showed me little things like,
where I can take a breather, where I can change two words
and put one word so it flows better.
But Lord knows I ain't trying to catch another case.
I know the feeling's mutual, T, I'm sorry I missed your funeral.
He showed me a lot
and I'll still be using the tips he gave me 20, 30 years down the line
if I'm still rapping.
The best things can come from the worst places. Bang!
He is me. I am him. I'm what he could be.
He is what I could have been.
I wish there was some way I could just like coach him for ever,
so that I could always make sure that
the world gets the best out of Curtis.
The next member of my team is Sam, a 22-year-old rapper and beatboxer.
My name is Samantha Pedley, aka Soul-list. I'm 22 years old.
I'm from Manchester.
When she was growing up, Sam lived in a relatively affluent area,
but her parents weren't high earners
and she often felt that she didn't belong.
I would go round to friends' houses
and I couldn't relate to the whole detached house
and you have two cars parked outside, you have a gardener you have a cleaner.
I didn't feel I fitted in.
I already had my first Eminem album from the age of seven.
By 11, I already had my Wu Tang album, Cypress Hill album,
Tupac album, Biggie album.
Round my area, if you were to come to someone and say, "Oh, yeah, I rap",
it's not going to be taken seriously.
It's just socially not acceptable.
For her part in the proms performance,
I want Sam to combine her urban street music with something
a bit more classical,
but it's an area she's not familiar with.
I think the barriers that exist within classical music,
first and foremost, is money.
I think if you have the money,
then you have the resources to have private lessons
in however many instruments you want from a young age.
Secondly, your exposure to it.
Did I grow up listening to classical music? No.
So how can I do something I don't know?
Turning Sam on to classical music is going to be a big challenge for me,
but first, she needs to work on her beatboxing skills.
To give her a few tips,
I've hooked her up with two times UK champion Grace Savage.
Hey, how are you?
I'm all right, thank you.
Let's see where you're at. Do you want to just do some?
-I've put you on the spot completely, but...
-Yeah, why not?
Let's do it together. Let's have a jam.
One, two, three, four.
Until now, self-taught Sam has taken her beats for granted,
she's all about freestyling,
and she's never given much thought to structure and vocal technique.
I'm hoping that having a technical masterclass from a UK champ
will help take her talent to the next level.
It sounds like you've got the rhythms and stuff like perfect,
but let's rewind and go straight back to basics.
So, kick drum is...
I always struggle whether to describe this as a B or a P sound,
but I think I've nailed it as a SP.
-You know when you say words like special. Special. SP.
Notice where your lips are when you're doing that. SP. SP.
And make the P really obvious.
And take away any voice. SPPP.
-These sounds aren't new to Sam,
but thinking about how they're actually made
will definitely help her to improve her technique.
Yeah, so I can see you going...
and then your lips are going up afterwards,
which is more of a snare thing.
With a kick drum, if you put on a sad face, like that,
so your top lip should be on top of your bottom lip, like that.
Can you see?
Top lip on top of bottom lip.
And you should get a bit of a ripple effect.
So next noise. High hat.
And there are loads of different ways you can do that.
If you feel that under my chin.
-All that air.
So, scratching is going to your very, very, very highest
and lowest points and manipulating it, in between with rhythms.
It's a really annoying sort of, "Hi, guys."
You do a beat and I'll scratch over the top.
Beatboxing is a lot like learning to play an instrument.
You need to master timing and breathing
and if you want to be any good, it takes a lot of practice.
Sam's lesson is almost over,
but there's no way she's going to pass up the opportunity
to do a bit of freestyling with Grace.
THEY FREESTYLE TOGETHER
The session was sick. The session was good.
It was definitely something useful and it was an experience
and I feel privileged to have met someone who was in
the UK Beatbox Championship. I learnt a lot. I learnt a lot.
She's really talented, but I don't think she knows it enough.
She just needs a bit of a confidence boost.
I'm a bit clearer about myself in regards to my beatboxing.
I think it's another step closer towards finding myself as an artist
and I'm definitely more confident about performing at
the Royal Albert Hall.
That sounds wicked!
Another member of my team is Vic,
a talented 21-year-old who lives for his guitar.
My name's Vic Jamieson, I'm based in London,
but I'm originally from Portsmouth.
At school, head boy Vic
was a high flyer in subjects like maths and physics.
But at the age of 16 he made a life-changing decision.
He turned his back on science and opted to become a musician.
Performing is the greatest feeling.
I get a huge, huge buzz making other people enjoy the music.
If I make their night, if I give them a good experience,
I get a huge buzz from that, like enormous.
Guitar mad Vic may be a lover of live music,
but classical doesn't do a lot for him.
Classical music is old, it's prestigious,
it's never connected with me.
It's just really like prancing around,
it sounds like medieval jesters dancing in a courtyard.
Vic might not like classical music,
but I think if he learns to understand it,
it will really help him develop as a musician.
In a bid to broaden his horizons,
I've arranged for him to spend some time with a classical guitarist.
Robin Hill has been playing for over 30 years
and can turn his hand to almost any style of music,
so I'm hoping he'll be able to teach Vic a thing or two.
I've had guitar lessons in the past when I was like, 11 or something,
but I really hated it.
It almost made me quit actually.
Classical guitar for me kind of lacks a bit of soul.
I like electric guitar because you can kind of almost like scream
through the guitar, sort of thing.
Vic and Robin are clearly miles apart
when it comes to classical music, so this could be interesting!
-For the time being,
Vic's beloved electric guitar will be staying locked in its case.
he needs to show Robin what he can do with an acoustic model.
And it's really using the guitar in an imaginative way.
Robin's clearly impressed with Vic's preferred style of music,
but he's about to discover that the feeling ain't mutual.
I've found in my exposure to classical that,
and I'm pretty sure that this is wrong,
but I feel as it's quite like...
sort of jolly
and kind of one dimensional a bit,
please prove me wrong.
It's a bit like polarising rock music
and saying it's a load of noise.
You know, I play a lot of electric guitar myself
and I've played with members of Deep Purple and Jethro Tull
and people like that and I've done a lot of session work.
I've backed Pavarotti and people like that,
so I know the guitar in lots of different guises.
Although I've sort of specialised in classical guitar
because I find it by far the most demanding,
I really love to let my hair down, what's left of it,
and play the electric.
What I think you can take from the classical as an electric player
is a sort of more disciplined approach to technique
and it can really improve your electric playing.
Vic doesn't realise it,
but classical music has already had a big influence on his own
contemporary style of playing.
You must have heard Asturias which was first used by The Doors
on a record called Spanish Caravan.
And I heard that and I thought "Wow, that's good."
And it was John Peel on a Sunday afternoon
who played this and he said
"Now, if you want to hear where they got that from,
"here's Andres Segovia playing Asturias."
Lots of modern music borrows ideas from traditional pieces,
so a solid grasp of classical playing methods
can only be a good thing.
When I started really seriously studying the classical guitar,
and then hadn't played the electric for maybe a year
and then went back to it, it felt so easy I couldn't believe it.
What strikes me about your playing immediately is...
how much feel and dynamic there is.
You get into the zone, don't you?
You go to a different place to play.
I always play with my eyes closed, and I think you do as well.
The guitar is sort of incidental.
It's just a sort of vessel we use to express ourselves.
Hopefully this has changed the way Vic looks at classical compositions.
But that's not going to stop him from getting his electric guitar out
and joining Robin in a bit of a jam.
If I'd met someone like him early on,
it would have totally inspired me
and I would have stuck with it a lot more.
I think with him, he probably would have identified what
I like in guitar as opposed to like, "play this piece."
I definitely saw stuff today that
I will look to incorporate into my own playing,
some of the techniques he does with his fingers.
If you can have the range of techniques from all the genres
and then apply it to a certain one, then that gives you the edge.
Oh, yeah, that was well fun!
Next up is 19-year-old singer Shevelle.
My name is Shevelle Anderson and I'm from Tottenham.
I got into music at a young age through gospel
because my mum would go to church and she'd bring me along with her.
Shevelle may love her music,
but one thing she doesn't like is being in the spotlight.
Despite her obvious talent, she shies away from taking lead vocals
and prefers to blend into the background.
Doing backing for other people, it's easier because you're not seen.
I have a problem with being seen. I have a problem with being judged.
It goes back to my weight.
I've always been a chubby child and I did get bullied for it.
You tend to hide, cos you just don't want to be the target.
That's it. You don't want to be the target, so you hide.
As well as having personal confidence issues,
I'm worried that Shevelle's development has been held back,
because she's too scared to try new styles of music.
I don't really have an opinion about classical music
because I don't listen to it, so how am I going to have an opinion
about something I don't listen to?
In a bid to broaden her horizons and boost her self-confidence,
I've arranged for Shevelle to have her first ever singing lesson
with professional soprano Rebecca Lodge.
I don't know anything about classical training.
I've never been taught about it, so I don't know what to expect.
I just hope I can take away something that can help.
Hopefully I can just learn how to expand my voice
and I can go home and start working on stuff.
I'm really looking forward to meeting Shevelle.
I'm looking forward to hearing her sing something a bit more classical,
just to see how her voice sounds when she's singing more like that
and seeing what we come up with.
Hi. I'm Rebecca.
-My name's Shevelle.
-Lovely to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
So the first thing we're going to do is do some warming up.
I think it doesn't matter what kind of music you sing,
you really do need to warm up
and get into the habit of doing it every day
cos if you were going for a run,
you wouldn't just go out the door and go "I'm going to run now."
You'd do some bends and stretches or something like that -
and that's just what warming up is.
It's a really good way of getting your mind in the zone
so you're really focused on what you're going to be doing
and getting your body ready for singing
cos singing is a really physical exercise.
People who don't sing, they think you just open your mouth.
Can you do me some nice circles with your shoulders
because if the shoulders are relaxed,
then there's relaxation here, whereas if they're tight,
if you just lift your shoulders up it makes your neck feel tight,
and if your neck's tight then the muscles that support your larynx
and your vocal cords are tight.
So it's really important to have that relaxation.
Really try and get a big circle going with your head. That's it.
Really enjoy the stretch. Can you feel the stretch? Cool.
With the warm-up complete, it's time to hear Shevelle in action,
so Rebecca starts her off with some basic scales.
One, two, three, four...
SHE SINGS SCALES
# Eee, eee, eee, eee, eee, eee
Change the eee to eh. Eh. #Ehhhh. #
-Like you're singing egg.
One, two, three, four...
Yay, good, another one!
This is the first time Shevelle has performed traditional scales
and she seems to be hitting all the right notes.
Rebecca still thinks there's room for improvement though.
What I want you to do, and this is going to feel a bit funny,
when you're doing it can you just put your hand on your jaw,
not to hold it, but just to realise what you're doing
because you're going... I'm going to exaggerate.
# Awwwww... #
-And we're getting a bit of jaw.
-Oh, yeah, I hate that!
# Awwwww... #
It works without you moving your jaw.
And it's not to stop you, it's just so you can feel what you're doing.
# Awwwww, awwwww, awwwww... #
It works without you doing that.
With a little bit of help from Rebecca, Shevelle has nailed it!
SHE CONTINUES WITH THE SCALES
You just sang a top C!
SHE PLAYS A C
Oh, my G, cuz!
Did that feel like hard work?
Or did your voice just keep climbing up?
It just did it naturally.
Rebecca is clearly impressed
and decides it's time for Shevelle to tackle a classical song.
What I've got here is Ave Maria by a guy called Gounod
and I've got it in the medium key.
We could have done it in the high key,
but I think the medium key will be fine.
# Ave Maria... #
This is a song that Shevelle
would never have dreamt of performing before.
# Ave... #
But it's clear that her voice can adapt to more styles of singing
than she ever imagined.
# Awwwww, awwwww... #
It just needed someone like Rebecca to bring it out of her.
So let nobody tell you that you can't sing classical music
-because that's rubbish!
-Oh, my G!
I did not know my range was that large really,
and then she was like, "You're hitting this
"and you're hitting that top C and I was like, is that me, yeah?"
I don't think she realises what she's got yet.
I think it's beginning to dawn on her
that she's got something quite special.
And to be able to do all kinds of music
isn't perhaps something that had occurred to her before today,
but hopefully I've shown her that there are
so many different styles she can sing in and she doesn't need to say
"I only sing reggae, I only sing pop, I only sing R&B."
She can do whatever she wants with a voice like that.
And hopefully, Rebecca's masterclass will encourage Shevelle
to explore a whole range of new musical styles.
This has given me the confidence in a big way.
It's never really occurred to me like, joining a classical choir.
But now, I might just have to jump on that, you know what I mean like!
My young musicians have all discovered a fresh new approach
to their music. They've certainly learnt a lot,
but have they got what it takes to
pull off the performance of a lifetime?
Well, we're going to find out.
They're about to perform in front of six and a half thousand people
at one of London's most prestigious venues.
In just a few minute's time, my team will be taking to the stage.
Get ready for 7 Chapters, Royal Albert Hall.
As well as a live audience, there are millions watching
and listening at home on the TV and the radio.
After all these weeks we've been going through,
this is what we've been leading up for.
It's the crunch time, you know what I mean?
So we're going to work hard now, we're going to go out there
and show everyone in the Royal Albert Hall what we're made of.
-Seriously. Ready yeah?
On the count of three. 7 Chapters.
-One, two, three.
-ALL: 7 Chapters!
All right, guys, you're up next.
This is it, the moment of truth has arrived.
# We are 7 Chapters We're turning the page
# Slowly turning my dreams into reality
# I guess that's why certain man are mad at me
# I was raised by the roadside Witnessed many cold nights
# Even had somebody close die
# RIP to Big T, I know you're watching over me... #
I'm blown away by how well the guys are doing.
Just eight weeks ago,
some of them had barely performed in public before
and now they're smashing it with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
By embracing different styles and techniques,
they've developed as artists and become confident performers.
Over the last two months they've learnt so much
and it's opened their minds to a whole new world of music.
# Here are 7 Chapters Our journey is the stage
# Here are 7 Chapters We're turning the page. #
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Rapper, musician and producer Fazer is best known for starring alongside Tulisa and Dappy in the British hip-hop group N-Dubz. Following a recent performance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, his eyes and ears were opened up to a whole new world - classical music.
Now he wants to share his new-found passion, so he is taking seven unknown urban musicians on a classical music crash course. His hope is that they will learn to appreciate classical music and understand how it can help them develop their own contemporary music styles. As well as listening to classical music, Fazer's young proteges embark on a series of musical masterclasses.
Gospel singer Shevelle meets with professional soprano Rebecca Lodge. Rebecca shows her some important breathing exercises and explains how to sing scales. It is the first time Shevelle has had any formal music training and she discovers that she has a much broader singing range than she ever imagined.
Urban rapper Curtis meets with acclaimed poet George Mpanga. George explains that key poetry principles such as word selection, structure, timing and rhythm can really help Curtis with his rapping.
Talented musician Vic meets with professional classical guitarist Robin Hill. In the past, Vic dismissed classical guitar as boring and soulless, and Robin is keen to show him otherwise. Vic discovers that a lot of contemporary music is rooted in classical compositions and takes away a few technical pointers from his session.
Rapper and beatboxer Sam meets up with UK beatboxing champion Grace Savage. In the past, Sam was a vocal freestyler, but Grace is keen to take her skills back to basics and discuss exactly how the beatbox sounds are made.
At the end of their learning journey, Fazer's troop are tasked with performing a piece of music that fuses their own urban sounds with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
The performance takes place at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall in front of a 6,500-strong live audience, with millions more listening and watching at home.