Pam Bishop introduces Ray Hearne's Political Songwriting workshop.
Protest songs can be a powerful way of bringing people together and raising their morale in struggle, as can be seen by early CND songs and those from the anti-apartheid movement.
There are several regular places where protest and political songs are shared and sung, where people are encouraged to sing and write new songs for our current struggles - as well as our own "Sing Political" in Birmingham there's the Unity Folk Club in London and the Glasgow Union Song Club.
New songs are needed - songwriters like Dave Rogers of Banner Theatre, Grace Petrie, Robb Johnson and Ray Hearne are leading the way - but "Sing Political" encourages people to write new songs by running workshops to get them going.
The next one will be on Sunday 19 November in the Grand Central above Birmingham New Street Station, so very easy to get to. It will be led by Ray Hearne, who says:
"I'm running a full day session in the centre of Birmingham organised by 'Sing Political' for anyone who wants to come along with the aim of trying to write songs about the times. If anything is for sure it's that there's plenty to write about!
"Don't be put off if you've never done it before. I always find that it's like starting again every time. It's a mighty democratising process in which all of us remain equal. And once you begin, it's hard to stop.
"So let's ask a few questions and then write some songs, or at the very least let's make a good start on something or a few things that we can each work up later! That's usually how it goes. Questions might include What makes a good political song? What are the burning issues we want to sing about?
"Participants might wish to work individually, in pairs or small groups –- the aim being to write as much as we can, in togetherness and solidarity, to produce singable pieces by the end of the day, perhaps using some good old tunes as templates.
"The focus of the workshop is on stimulating people's confidence in their own abilities. To encourage participants to see themselves as writers, as commentators on what's happening in the world all around, and rather than being passively overwhelmed, to begin to make active, positive and tuneful responses, to raise consciousness and to re-kindle belief in the possibility of change.
"Just bring yourself and writing implements, traditional or electronic. Fetch your instrument if you use one, and you can carry it. If you don't then it doesn't matter. Some of the finest political songshave been words set to music by others. We'll all be knackered by the end but hopefully heartwarmed by what we've produced and heard from each other."
Tickets £30 from http://www.wegottickets.com/event/418367
Sing Political is at http://www.tradartsteam.co.uk/sing-political.html.
Unity Folk Club is at http://unityfolkclub.org
Union Song Club is at http://www.unionsongclub.co.uk
Banner Theatre is at http://bannertheatre.co.uk