Words First: Radio 1Xtra launches BBC’s first-ever spoken-word season

I’m so excited that over the next year 1Xtra will be working with our partners the Roundhouse, BBC Arts and Arts Council England to nurture, reflect and enrich the already vibrant underground spoken-word scene across Britain and help elevate young artists to the next level.Andy Worrell, Editor, BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra
This Sunday 31 May, BBC Radio 1Xtra launches Words First, the BBC’s first ever spoken-word season. Words First is a collaboration between 1Xtra and partners BBC Arts, The Roundhouse, and Arts Council England.

As part of the season and in association with the Roundhouse, 1Xtra will be holding a series of regional workshops and performances with partners across the UK to seek out aspiring spoken-word artists. Through this process Words First will then go on to nurture six new spoken-word artists over six months via a variety of content from 1Xtra, and with support from Radio 1. There will also be a weekly slot on 100% HomeGrown With DJ Target (1Xtra, 4pm Sundays) to introduce a wider audience to spoken word.

Andy Worrell, Editor of BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra, says: “Young people are increasingly finding a voice through spoken word and using it as a means of expression. I’m so excited that over the next year 1Xtra will be working with our partners the Roundhouse, BBC Arts and Arts Council England to nurture, reflect and enrich the already vibrant underground spoken-word scene across Britain and help elevate young artists to the next level.”

Content in the season includes,

  • Spoken Word Live Lounges kicking off with George The Poet, pictured, (Wednesday 3 June) broadcast on Radio 1 and 1Xtra and a Grime meets Spoken Word Live Lounge with Devlin, Blizzard and Bonkaz collaborating with spoken word poets (Friday 5 June) broadcast on 1Xtra.
  • BBC iPlayer documentary Words First: The Poets Will Be Heard (Friday 29 May on BBC iPlayer, 4pm) featuring George The Poet, Kate Tempest, Hollie Poetry, Suli Breaks, Amaal Said on the theme of ‘finding your voice’ with the help of some of the biggest names in the UK spoken-word scene today.
  • Radio documentary Words First on both Radio 1 and 1Xtra following DJ Target, as Suli Breaks introduces him to the spoken word scene, broadcast on Tuesday 2 June at 9pm (Radio 1) and Sunday 7 June at 9pm (1Xtra)
  • Launch event on Sunday 31 May at The Roundhouse in London where around 20 young poets perform a collaborative poem together on a theme set by George The Poet, who will also perform at the event. Other solo performers include Hollie Poetry, Deborah 'Debris' Stevenson and GREEdS.

Nicola Thorold, Executive Producer at the Roundhouse, says: “The Roundhouse has a history of nurturing the rapidly growing spoken-word scene in London so we’re delighted to now be venturing around the country with 1Xtra, BBC Arts and Arts Council England. The project will give up to 100 young aspiring wordsmiths the opportunity to develop their talent and give spoken word the national platform it deserves.”

Antonia Byatt, Director of Literature at Arts Council England, says: “The Arts Council is delighted to support Words First. Our partners, Roundhouse and 1Xtra, bring huge expertise in spotting and developing young talent and they will be working across England to find and present exciting new voices. Spoken Word will gain a national platform - live and on-line - where many more people can enjoy this vibrant art form.”

SW