Reimagining the City, Series 2 Episode 1 of 3
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Musician Soweto Kinch offers a different vision of a city he's loved all his life - Birmingham.

Soweto often gets a surprised response when he tells people he's from Birmingham. For one, he doesn't have an accent. But also, as a successful jazz musician and hip hop star, the expectation is often that he should be living in London or New York - or almost anywhere except Birmingham.

But, for Soweto, Birmingham is a place of artistic endeavour and cultural significance on a par with any other major city. The city is where he served his cultural apprenticeship in jazz and hip hop. "The saxophone called me. I've never seen so many shiny keys. And the love affair continued from there."

He left to study history at Oxford but chose to make Birmingham his home. "The fact that I've stayed in Birmingham sets me apart from the other musicians in London - I can do everything from here. There's a camaraderie and respect that other musicians have for each other in Birmingham."

Soweto lives in a tower block in Hockley - it's been a place that's given him creative input for his albums and music. From his window he can see the Hockley Flyover, a space which was the scene of gang fights and crime. Five years ago Soweto decided to turn it into a festival venue.

"I've been proud of the fact we've redefined peoples' relationships to this space. It's a neglected area. I felt that more than any other area this expressed a lot of the innate contradictions we face in the black community in Britain. I wanted to reclaim the space and reclaim the stories."

Produced by Rachel Hooper
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

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30 minutes

Last on

Fri 3 Oct 2014 23:27

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