PLEASE NOTE: we are always looking for donations of equipment so that more people can participate and to update what we have which is continually in use. If you have any to donate contact us
There is a lot of musical talent on the streets of Freetown where nearly 70% of youth are unemployed. Also in the provinces and in the prison where over 1000 inmates occupy a building meant for 300. We work with the most marginalised youth and gangs to record their music free, because music gives a voice, it gives a sense of achievement, something to show the family and community who see you as useless, it gives purpose and saves lives and for those who are very talented, a recording enables them to promote themselves and move forward. So far we have recorded over 2,000 tracks and 15 albums.
We now have four studios thanks to the continued, generous support of The Joe Strummer Foundation . The main studio, a small studio where people can learn production software, a prison studio and the mobile studio which goes out in to the provinces where there is nothing but frustrated talent desperate to record.
We receive endless reports from artists of how having a recording of their work has changed their life. Black Street Family is a large, and once feared, street gang comprising many musicians. We have recorded three albums for them and now they say people come and sit with them and even respect their talent. This has had the knock on effect of turning Black Street members away from violence and crime. “We have a different reputation now and we have to live up to that.”
Komba had his hand blown off when he was five years old. His mother could not look after him so he left his village and headed for Freetown where he lived on the streets. A shy young man always trying to hide his missing hand. He recorded two tracks including “Diamond Briefcase” and with CD in hand he went home to Kono to see his mother for the first time. Being able to show her he was capable of doing something gave him the courage to go home. His track “Diamond Briefcase” won a local hip hop competition. He is now recording an album. There are many similar stories to Komba’s. Having something that you created inspires confidence and a sense of self worth and generates respect in others.
Live music had all but died out in Sierra Leone during the conflict and, with it, the ability to record live sounds. WAYout is one of few studios able to record instruments well and we have recently been bringing together traditional musicians with younger ones and fusing the two styles.
Salia Koroma walked into the studio one day, with his battered old accordion. Keys were broken or stuck but he still managed to make music with it but it was very limited. Romano Viazzani, a brilliant accordionist from the UK, donated a new accordion and now Salia can extend his range and earn a living playing.