‘What If‘ the new single from folk artist Zoe Wren seeks to raise both money and public awareness on behalf of prison music outreach charity Sing Inside.
“Taking singing workshops into local prisons with charity Sing Inside was one of the most rewarding parts of my life while living in Cambridge,” says Wren. “My song What If was inspired partly by the joy and hope music can bring to people’s lives and partly by the frustrations of working in a prison system lacking focus on rehabilitation. It is more vital now than ever to support this important community work, so all money from this release will go straight to help Sing Inside and the amazing work this charity does.”
“My heart goes out to the family and friends of Jack and Saskia, and to everyone affected by the events at Fishmongers’ Hall on London Bridge. I think we owe it to them to continue to support the cause they so strongly believed in, and focus not on hate but on love, hope and humanity.”
On its website Sing Inside outlines its mission and values as follows:
- Sing Inside promotes and supports the use of music and performing arts as a means of community-building for all who work or live within the prison setting.
- We aim to provide music-based educational initiatives by conducting choral workshops in UK prisons and holding facilities using volunteers drawn from UK universities and local choirs.
- Our workshops train and develop the musicianship and educational leadership skills of volunteers drawn from universities and local communities, who support workshop delivery.
- We believe that music can break down common stereotypes and social barriers, and encourage creativity, confidence, and a greater sense of self-worth.
‘What If’ is available via Wren’s Bandcamp page. The track is priced at £2, but she asks that if you are able to donate any more, it will be hugely appreciated.
Zoe Wren website
Sing Inside Website
EP review: Zoe Wren – Gold & Smoke
Zoe Wren is a singer-songwriter working very much in the folk tradition. She clearly knows her folk history, having studied this at university, and has been performing on the folk scene since her mid-teens, not to mention spots of busking in Camden. Importantly, she is able to bring all this into the mix as a song-writer.
With a stunningly beautiful voice, some gently captivating acoustic guitar and some equally beautifully-written songs, there’s a definite nod to that classic era of singer-songwriters and interpreters of traditional material à la Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and co. At the same time there is enough about both Zoe Wren’s performance and her songwriting that is new, original and just so damned good that it really helps her stand out on today’s folk scene.
Five of the EP’s six songs are written by Wren herself but she uses her undoubted knowledge of traditional folk songs to revisit a number of familiar themes in the folk canon. What she does so well is take the stories of the overwhelmingly male songwriters and male narrators of traditional songs from past centuries and recast them from a female perspective.
“It’s probably a bit of an odd thing to say as a singer-songwriter, but my EP was partly inspired by my university dissertation. It was called ‘voicing the unsung experiences of women in contemporary folksong’ and it got me thinking a lot about not only how gender is portrayed in traditional folk music, but also what that means for contemporary female singer-songwriters. Some of the songs on the EP explore women’s voices, others just voices and personas in general, but each of the original songs retells a story from a traditional folk song in some way, “ says Wren.
A gifted songwriter and exceptional singer, Zoe Wren brings a welcome perspective and impressive originality to traditionally-inspired music and Gold & Smoke is highly recommended.
Released: 2018 on Folkstock Records