Stand up to slavery at Leeds fundraiser

Written by Jessica Howell

It’s difficult to hear the term “slavery” and apply it to modern society. Yet, the charity A21 states that there are millions of slaves in the world today; more than ever before in human history. The word is thrown around with little meaning and what minor televised context we are familiar with is only one part of the $150 billion criminal industry.

A21 are an upfront organisation with hard-hitting aims to combat modern-day slavery. They tell us that the reality is this: “slavery is violence. It’s physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. It’s forced prostitution. It’s barbaric working conditions.” With freedom as their end goal, their offices operate in 11 countries. Their work however, stretches far wider and is backed by their A-teams; a community of abolitionists operating across the globe.

While the term may be ambiguous, the actions we can take to stop slavery are anything but. Wednesday 21st March will see Neil Rigg, Leeds-based musician and Musical Director of Renaissance Arts Performing Arts College leading the fight by hosting a line-up of incredible singers at The Wardrobe, Leeds.

Among the singers are northern-based Carly McKee and Hollie Nelson who will be performing alongside Neil and a recent graduate of the college, Ben Lancaster who is fresh off his tour with Carnival Cruise Lines. Their one night only performance will raise donations for A21 and one hundred percent of the proceeds will be given to the charity.

Although still early in their careers, the singers already have a wealth of experience and are bursting with talent. Carly McKee is a former backing vocalist for SouLutions. Her singing took her from the North East to a recent UK & Ireland tour with Jools Holland. Hollie Nelson is a graduate of the Renaissance Arts Performing Arts College and joined the UK touring cast of Mamma Mia in January 2017. She will continue on to the International tour during 2018/19.

The night will be hosted by Neil but it’ll also see him take to the stage. After performing as a session musician in recording studios, for record labels and on tour (nationally and internationally), he has around 5000 gigs under his belt. More than that, he’s a father to a daughter he worships and a teacher to many young women training in the performing arts industry; all of whom he wants to make aware about the dangers of slavery and how they can put a stop to trafficking.

Neil is so passionate about the charity and getting the word out about their work. Originally from the North East, he told me that he’s found the process of running the event and promoting it quite difficult. He explained of the north’s generosity, “Not being from Leeds, it has been slightly difficult [to promote] but I’ve had loads of support,” and expressed his hopes for the night, “my ideal scenario is getting loads of money raised for the night, and just everybody having a good time.”

Doors will open at 7pm on 21st March 2018. Children are allowed in the venue if accompanied by an adult up until 11pm. Tickets are £6.05 for adults and £4.95 for students. To buy tickets (cheaper than on the night), you can do so HERE.

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