Watford based charity Electric Umbrella, a world-leading inclusive music community, released a brand new album, Sunflower Avenue on March 26.
The album, which was recorded remotely during the pandemic, is a unique collaboration between over 200 performers with learning disabilities and more than world-class musicians.
Sunflower Avenue covers topics such as isolation, loneliness, friendship, difference and hope and gives a voice to the thoughts and feelings of people with learning disabilities through the 15 track album.
Tom Billington, Artistic Director of Electric Umbrella said: “Shortly after the second lockdown, someone laid down the gauntlet to write an album. We love a challenge, so went for it and held a series of songwriting sessions with our learning disabled members alongside guest artists. Writing it was one thing but capturing the 15 tracks was an extraordinary challenge.
“It took all our technical agility and know-how, combined with untold experimentation, to record over 100 learning disabled performers and 50 professional musicians remotely. In extreme cases, our efforts extended to feeding mics through letter-boxes. Somehow we did it and Sunflower Avenue the album is a real and beautiful thing that we are all immensely proud of.
“Sunflower Avenue documents a spectrum of emotions travelled by a learning disabled community living through a pandemic. It’s a multi-genre explosion of creativity from anarchic punk to country and synth pop, from quirky dance floor fillers to sweeping ballads. It gives a bold and beautiful voice to a community often unheard and lyrically roots itself in a unique time in history.”
Guests have flocked to support the charity including local talents such as Chris Stark, Glowe, Griff and Plested alongside other names such as Sophie Ellis Bextor, Tony Hadley, Toyah Willcox and Nik Kershaw.
Sunflower Avenue is out now at electricumbrella.co.uk/sunfloweravenue