“It was perfect for me. I loved it, I’d always wanted to make a CD since I was little” – Elijah

Elijah is a talented 14 year-old singer songwriter who is a local hero on his permanent Traveler site near Leatherhead. His musical purpose is mostly for the spiritual enlightenment and entertainment of his community. However, having no formal teaching or access to equipment, he reached out for someone to support him musically and help him to record his music.

Sam is a very skilled musician, a mercury prize nominee, and a music leader with an amazingly eclectic range of musical activity and expertise including playing the guitar and recording. He is also an incredibly down to earth and unimposing character who was keen to work on the Gypsy Traveler site to mentor Elijah.

Elijah felt at home with his mentor from the start. Sam used techniques from the training to draw out some targets for Elijah to work towards. It became apparent that Elijah had a huge repertoire of songs already and his main aim was to produce a CD of his work, which he hoped would open up more opportunities to perform. It was also clear that Elijah’s ambitions were not for music industry success and fame, like many of the young people on the project. He simply loved singing for an audience and wanted more opportunities to do so.

“He was a little nervous at first worrying that the takes were not perfect but as we progressed and I let Elijah know he was welcome to record as many takes as he liked he loosened up and his confidence grew.” – Sam Dook

Over the course of the mentoring programme Sam spent much of his time professionally recording Elijah’s vocals, and even helping his brother’s guitar playing. Together they added additional instrumentation, producing a nine-track album using a mobile recording studio. They also worked on artwork for the album, and Elijah is incredibly proud of his achievement, which he is keen to share with the wider Gypsy traveler community.

Working with a mentor from outside his own community Elijah has achieved more than a professionally recorded album. He has learned a number of new skills, including recording and production skills, guitar technique and music theory, and he has built a positive relationship with an inspiring musician. Being given recognition from outside of his community has boosted his confidence and now he is seeking wider opportunities to perform around the county.

 “Having a mentor is amazing. I felt like I was the best. I’m so lucky” – Elijah

E_S 03