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12 July 2014
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Redemption choir
Hull's Redemption Choir

Amazing Grace

To mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, the BBC has recorded a rendition, with local choirs, of the hymn Amazing Grace.

Tyrone Huntley, Lincoln

Tyrone Huntley

Tyrone is the 2006 winner of the “Wow” factor, where The BBC teamed up with the Theatre Royal in Lincoln and the Lincolnshire Echo to find a star. 16 year-old Tyrone beat hundreds of locals to win on the 12th November. He has an excellent voice and chose to sing Amazing Grace 'a cappella'.


The Launderette Poets, Hull

The Laundrette Poets
Laundrette Poets: Pat (left) and Marissa

This three-piece outfit formed in 2003. The band consists of Marissa Claughan – vocals, cello and lyrics, Patrick Gradwell – guitars and lyrics, Craig Steer – bass. Between rehearsals they spoke to us about their 'poppy' interpretation of the song.

video The Launderette Poets >
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Gunness & Burringham C of E Primary School, Scunthorpe

The choir at this small school was only formed in September 2006. Located just outside Scunthorpe the parents and pupils are proud of their singing. Music co-ordinator Adam Wales told us more about the choir along with head teacher Angela Ellis.

video Gunness School Choir >
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Holy Trinity Church Choir, Hull

This is a traditional church choir, belonging to the largest parish church in England, where a month-old William Wilberforce was christened on 25th September 1759. The choir is a growing success story for the church.


Trinity House School, Hull 

Trinity House School
Trinity House School

Founded in 1787 as a naval school for boys, Trinity House's old customs are still a big part of school life. Deputy Head teacher Karen Keaney and retired head of music Margaret Goodson told us more about the school's steel band 'Steel Trinity'.

video Hull Trinity House School >
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Tilbury School, Hull

The west Hull primary school boasts a singing choir as well as a signing one and they regularly take part in events throughout Hull. They are currently in rehearsal for 'Cargo' a musical based on slavery, which is set to premiere in Hull.


Redemption Choir, Hull

Young people from across Hull make up this choir and, having sung together for over four years, they too are set to appear in 'Cargo'. Choir director Ann Richards told us why 'Amazing Grace' is a special hymn for them.

video Redemption Choir >
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Background to the hymn

John Newton
Amazing Grace composer John Newton

John Newton was a reformed slave trader and slave ship captain. Although he wrote the hymn whilst still having dealings in the slave trade he spoke out against it in later life and became an abolitionist.

Newton wrote up his eyewitness accounts of the appalling conditions in which enslaved Africans were held on board ships during the middle passage. He gave this evidence to William Wilberforce and encouraged him to use it in his parliamentary fight to get the slave trade abolished. 

The song is believed to have been written for New Year's Day 1773. The lyrics are by Newton but the music is based on a traditional folk tune.

Recorded by a host of musicians from Elvis Presley to Christine Aguilera, Amazing Grace has become a symbol of hope and redemption. The song has been adopted by civil rights campaigners as a rallying call to freedom.

Amongst the long list of artists who have recorded the song are; Aretha Franklin, Bryan Ferry, Charlotte Church, Destiny’s Child, Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Rod Stewart, Sinead O’Connor and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards; who had a number one hit in the UK charts in 1971.

video Watch the finished performance >
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last updated: 22/03/07
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Abolition - 1807

Abolition - 1807

History: Abolition 1807 »

Religion: Ethics of Slavery »

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