Radio: Inja on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

On 19th June 2014 the Cycle of Songs project returned to the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire studios, led this time by Inja, one of the lynchpin composers and performers. Inja, writer and performer of the piece entitled 'Freedom', met with Sue Dougan to discuss his involvement with Cycle of Songs, the next stages of the project, and some of the remarkable experiences he has had throughout the process.

To hear Inja talking with Sue Dougan you can listen below:

Inja spoke about how the project has turned him into a rapper/historian after being given the opportunity to learn about and creatively interpret largely unknown histories, as Sue Dougan articulated, the project "has set off a massive wave of cultural engagement in Cambridgeshire" and with the focus on locations and their stories it is being embraced and celebrated for being, as Sue aptly says, "so uniquely cultural and so uniquely Cambridge".

This was certainly the case for Inja who remembers being contacted by the project and asked if he would be involved in the historical research element that has been the foundation building block of all the stories, poetry, and songmaking.  As Inja explained, it was remarkable that as a son of the city, and a black son of the city, he had no previous knowledge of how integral Cambridge, particularly two of its citizens, Olaudah Equiano and Thomas Clarkson, had been in campaigning against the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Inja was given about forty pages of historical research to digest by Historyworks which he really valued, as engaging with a history of which he is a part of, as "a great great grandchild of the Slave Trade", is therefore really important to him.

Indeed, the project gave him the opportunity to go with the historian leading the project, Helen Weinstein, on a visit St John's College Library at the University of Cambridge and to have a private viewing Helen had organized to examine some of the original primary documentation connected to the campaign to Abolish the Slave Trade.  They met with Ryan Cronin, Press, Publicity and Communities Officer at the College, who is integral to a schools' programme on Slavery and Abolition at the College.   The introduction of the rapper to these important documents at the College has sown the seeds for potential future collaborations between Inja and the College's schools engagement programme.

Inja with Sing! & Revelation Rock-Gospel Choir

Inja also spoke about the piece he has composed and written about the Abolition campaigners, which is a rap scored for choir too, which interweaves the historical facts and his own personal experiences in Cambridge, and he went on to then describe the recording with Sing! Community Choir and the Revelation Rock-Gospel Choir at the Romsey Mill, in the Community Centre's fantastic community hall. The rapper spoke about the emotional response he had when he arrived at the recording for his Freedom track and heard the choirs "really bringing it to life."

"Recording it with them was a really emotional experience for me. The power of all of their voices live - wow - I walked into a room and they were practicising it, and I was blown back by it in the happiest, most joyous way possible."

A clip of the pre-mix of Freedom was played on-air and was greeted with positive responses from Sue and audience members who contacted the BBC Cambs station. They discussed some of the other venues and historical stories that have inspired the Cycle of Songs commisions, such as cricketing on Parker's Piece, drawing attention to the hundreds of individuals and choirs that the Cycle of Songs project has brought together in song to celebrate Cambridge's heritage and the arrival of the Tour de France.

If you would like to find out more about Inja - you can click here.

If you would like to find out more about the song 'Freedom' and listen to the pre-mix track - you can click here.

If you would like to find out more about the project you can visit our events page at

The Cycle of Songs producer, Helen Weinstein, would like to thank Ryan Cronin for facilitating the visit to see and learn about the Abolition manuscripts and printed works at St John's and to credit for photography 'By permission of the Masters and Fellows of St John's College, Cambridge'. 

Radio: Inja on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire


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