Jazz star YolanDa celebrates life

JAZZ saxophonist YolanDa Brown is joining the fight against gun and knife crime as part of Black History Month. The 26-year-old, of Gants Hill, is playing at Celebration of Life, a concert on October 16 arranged by The Metropolitan Black Police Associati

JAZZ saxophonist YolanDa Brown is joining the fight against gun and knife crime as part of Black History Month.

The 26-year-old, of Gants Hill, is playing at Celebration of Life, a concert on October 16 arranged by The Metropolitan Black Police Association at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, after her recent jury duty inspired her to help the young.

The performance is the latest instalment of the anti-violence initiative, Revival.

The campaign began in 2002 to combat gun and knife crime and promote respect for life.


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YolanDa, a former pupil at Bancroft's School, Woodford Green, and Beal High, Redbridge - where she was head girl - said: "I have always viewed music as something very personal, you have to experience something to make music about it.

"After working on jury duty and seeing how spur-of-the-moment violence can affect young people's lives, I really want to be able to be part of this movement and stop crime.

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"I know gun and knife crime has been a cause we've been fighting for a long time, but I think we need to attack it from different angles. And, I think music is a great way of getting to the youth of today."

Yolanda, who is studying for a PhD at Kent University, believes the emotional attachment to music is what makes it special.

She started playing the sax when she was 13. But, prior to that, she had a taster of many other instruments.

At the age of six, she started playing her dad's piano and soon after had a go at drums. But she didn't get the right thrill from them.

"I wanted to be able to have an instrument that I could carry around and have with me all of the time. Something that I could call my own."

She played her first solo gig in July 2007 at the Mermaid Theatre, Blackfriars, and, as the Recorder reported, she won the MOBO award for Best Jazz Artist last year.

She said: "My time in the music business has just been such a whirlwind experience!"

Even with her sell-out concerts, YolanDa still feels in awe and astonished when a good opportunity comes up.

"I couldn't believe it when I was asked to support The Temptations," she said. "I'm from that generation where they were just such an inspiration."

She has travelled the world so people can hear her music, visiting places such as Miami, Spain and Germany. She was even asked to play for the Russian President at an economic conference which she described as "unbelievable".

Tickets for the Celebration of Life concert are �15 plus booking fee. Call 0871 663 2505 or visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk .

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