Nathaniel Sesay

Sierra Leonean Nathaniel Sesay, aka Mash P, now lives in the UK on a Global Talent visa. After the war he was rejected by family and community so he lived on the streets of Freetown for 12 years. “Music saved my life. Without music I had nothing but bad memories”. Mash trained as a facilitator with MIA  in Sierra Leone. He has released an album and many singles; performed in the UK and the Netherlands; as a photographer he was exhibited in London and the USA. He is studying music at IMCP. His new album is out in October 2022.

Francess Kamara

Francess Kamara is a poet, film maker and a graphic designer, who was born in the Northern province of Sierra Leone in Makeni. Francess is a triplet who was turned out of her uncle's home at the age of eight because of superstition when her two sisters died. She is presently studying filmmaking and creative writing at WAYout and she is also facilitating music at the female correctional centre.

Foday Sillah

Foday Sillah is a Sierra Leonean poet, writer and filmmaker based in the capital Freetown where he was born and raised. Unable to complete his university education due to lack of funding, he needed up living on the streets for several years before joining WAYout, an organisation providing free arts education for disadvantaged youth. He is currently being trained in creative writing and filmmaking. Foday completed Level 3 of facilitation skill-sharing with Music Action International and is now one of our local facilitators providing regular sessions for female and male prisioners.

Kensaye Russell

Kensaye is a Paris born, London based music producer and DJ. He has been actively involved in those roles for many years, providing a fresh and exciting approach to music.

Kensaye has gained notoriety on Soundcloud for his remixes and Afro-Electronic releases and carved a niche for himself within the Global Club music scene. Inspired by his Haitian roots, he merges Afro-Caribbean rhythms with the sounds of Hip Hop and the energy of Electronic music.

Offering innovative and inspiring concepts for his workshops, Kensaye has been involved in numerous projects across schools, detention centres and refugee initiatives in the UK, working primarily with children and young people. His workshops aim to provide a progressive and accessible experience that resonates with the young participants and stimulates their creativity.

He has performed as a DJ and percussionist in numerous venues in the UK (Koko, Southbank Centre, Barbican, Rich Mix and more) and Europe (Spain, France, Germany, Scotland, Sweden & Austria) and his music has been played on many radio stations (BBC, Reprezent Radio, Worldwide FM, Soho Radio, Triple J, NTS, Apple Music 1 and more).

Kensaye has also been hosting his own shows via online radio stations, playing the freshest global bass music, with some of the biggest actors in the scene as special guests, delivering interviews and mixes.

He also composed music for cinema, and TV, with some placements in award winning feature films, documentaries and even Netflix series.

Mohammed – Rapper and Facilitator

Mohammed is a UK based bilingual Rapper/ Afrobeats Artist and Facilitator. Internationally known for his high energy electrifying live performances he has toured extensively across Europe, Africa, North America, Cuba & Mexico. Originally from Mozambique, he uses his own experience of war and displacement to help create empathy amongst different communities by facilitating programmes for refugees and asylum seekers who have been forced to leave their countries and find themselves living in UK. Mohammed Yahya’s work has been featured on BBC London, Al Jazeera, ITV News, BBC Asian Network, just to name a few as well as International TV channels across U.K, Mozambique, France, Senegal, Spain & Mexico. His music has been featured on a variety of compilation albums as well as an independent movie.

Vic – Music Therapist & Facilitator

Vic trained with Nordoff Robbins and qualified as a music therapist in 2013. Since then she has set up and delivered many music projects, including for people living with dementia, and their carers, for adults who are struggling with their wellbeing or living with a mental health condition, for the wellbeing of new parents with their babies *studied music at manchester university and then after some years working as a teaching support assistant with chidlren who have additional social/sensory/communicaton needs - then trained with Nordoff Robbins and qualified as a music therapist in 2013 - working in schools to support children and young people who have experienced emotional trauma, and in dementia care nursings home as well. Vic is a key part of the Stone Flowers delivery team.

Roshi – Singer, Song-writer and Facilitator

Born in Wales, Roshi Nasehi is a critically acclaimed musician of Iranian parentage with a strong track record in theatre, recording, workshops, cross arts collaboration, public art and social intervention projects. All of her records have received significant airplay including BBC Radio 3, 6 Music, RTE and widespread critical acclaim, among others, The Independent, Quietus, Wire, New Internationalist and twice experimental record of the month in Mixmag who described her as "one of the most singular voices working at the moment". She has led high profile participatory projects and training for many organisations like Sound Connections, BBC SO and Kith and Kids. She is visiting tutor at Goldsmiths and a featured artist in Dr. Pamela Burnard's book Musical Creativities In Practice.Roshi has received many prestigious commissions including BBC Radio 3, So & So Circus, the Southbank WOW festival, BedMid for whom she made the sound piece Love From Syria with Syrian refugees and the British Council for whom she created and presented public Sound Art pieces in Kuwait.

Matt – Filmmaker

Matt Kowalczuk is a visual artist and film tutor who works across video art and photography. My deep passion is documentary work. For 15 years I have been practising in the North West to develop my visual artwork; engaging in roles primarily in Manchester. In 2019 I left the city I was born in to relocate to Brighton with my wife, who is also an artist and my %-year-old son who loves anything to do with wires or dominoes. In 2016 I went to Bangladesh as a key Camera Operator to work on Rising Silence, a heartbreaking documentary on the women who are now heroines of 1971 Liberation of Bangladesh war movement. I have also worked on an interdisciplinary piece called Sufi in the City which looks at the idea of female identity in contemporary urban culture. I'm currently working on developing a multi-artform creative research project called Finding Fathers,  exploring the psychological impact of fatherlessness. Much of my creative practise has focused on video pieces with professional contemporary dance and performance artists. I have created documentation and visual content for their projects. I have also worked collaboratively and creatively with arts organisations and charities that want their productions artfully filmed and edited.

Joe – Facilitator & Saxophone

As a composer, Joe's music often explores the intersection of music and drama, and has been performed in leading venues such as St. John's, Smith Square, the Southbank Centre and Saffron Hall, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. His 2016 comic chamber opera, 'WATCH ME', written as part of an MA at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, was described as being "Wonderful: like a humorous dream." (The Times). Having completed a year-long traineeship in music leading with Spitalfields Music from 2016-17, Joe is now highly active in the field of community music, working often with the English National Opera Baylis programme, and has previously worked on projects with the London Symphony Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. One of Joe's increasing specialisms is in work with refugees and asylum seekers; in addition to his work with Music Action International, he is a volunteer leader and saxophonist with 'Woven Gold', a choir for refugees and asylum seekers run by the Helen Bamber Foundation. Joe also performs regularly with his duo, Boubakiki (with handpan player Rosie Bergonzi). As members of the Live Music Now scheme, these often take place in community settings.

Michael – Double Bass

Michael Cretu is an internationally recognised musician and composer, whose family has a long musical tradition dating back to the 17th Century. Born in Bucharest, Romania Michael has been playing the double bass since he was 12. At the age of 19, he joined the Romanian National Radio Symphony Orchestra & studied music at George Enescu Music School, Bucharest and won a scholarship to complete his postgraduate studies at the RNCM. He has performed his solo pieces at the Royal Academy of Music and King’s Place, London, The Royal Exchange and Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Michael is the musical director for the Manchester International Roots Orchestra, formed by RNCM and Community Arts North West.

Sanja – Facilitator, Singer & NW Schools Coordinator (p/t)

Born in Bosnia and Hercegovina, Sanja came to Austria as a refugee at a young age, where she studied music education and English at the University of Vienna. Sanja is a teacher, singer and songwriter and has been participating in various music and performance projects.

Sindy – Facilitator, Singer & Beatboxer

Sindy Czureja is a young Roma singer/song writer, actor and beatboxer. She was born in Poland but raised in East London. The ability to play different instruments, sing, dance and even beatbox have been passed down to Sindy's family for generations and they are part of a family band called Romany Diamonds who are one of the leading bands in the Roma community. Sindy is a key member of our facilitation team working in schools through Harmonise and with teenage refugees through Everyday People:LDN. As well as having a strong passion for music, Sindy also get involved with theatrical performances and is recognised by her role as a singer in the production of Three Sisters directed by Benedict Andrews at the Young Vic she also supports local schools with their drama productions, directing them, delivering workshops as well as supporting stage management. Sindy was recently awarded the prestigious Youth Music Young Leader Award for her outstanding work on our programmes.

Ben – Facilitator & Guitarist

Ben is a Roma guitarist from a musical Gypsy family background. He worked as a Roma assistant in schools, worked on many different projects with fascinating people, and is very happy to be working on projects with Music Action International as young people have many hidden talents that need to be unfolded if given the opportunity.

Leila – Facilitator & Flautist

Leila is a French professional musician (Singer & Flutist) performing with her band, Cristobal and the Sea, across Europe. She has background in International Relations and an MA in Development Studies. While studying, she spent two months in Lebanon working with Syrian refugees and worked in a Women Migrant center in Geneva. She wrote her thesis on the restorative role music can play in helping refugees re-building their lives, connecting to a wider communities and integrating in the UK. She previously worked at the British Red Cross as Caseworker and Lead Project Worker. She has been involved in different creative projects as music practitioner with various organizations such as Women for Refugee Women , You Press and Music Action International

Mazaher – Stone Flowers Member, VJ & Film-maker

ARTIST STATEMENT I was born in 1978 Why? I don’t know. In one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Esfahan The city retains much of its past glory. What I grow up with. Ornaments, motives and textiles the language of symbols, secrets, soul. I know myself by my pictures, I try to visualize my mind, my understanding of my essence. My Comments! What you shout it, symbolize it or kill it in Contrast with Dominance, Inside or… I seek the Secret and I look for the light within the Darkness .seeking something in its own absence. To show the power of smallest truth in a dark frame of paper or power. Abstract forms are my dearest friends in my poems, photography or fraises Expressive language of Metonymy, enemy of ignorant monarch. In my photos there is no attempt of evoking the passage of time. Time is frozen for the truth to shine. Immersion in contrast and forms in a dimension that nobody is allow to enter but you. I compose by the contrast of light and dark, while I use colours to match the mood of my world with, despite of subjects colour . Mainly faces and bodies.

Arian – Persian Percussion

Arian started learning Tonbak (Persian goblet drum) and Daf (a circular frame drum) when he was seven . He moved to England to study music and music production in 2003 where he became interested in a variety of styles of music that could influence him to create his own original fusion style. Arian is also a songwriter, composer and producer. His performances with Music Action International include at the 'End Sexual Violence in Conflict' Event in London, with musicians from BBC Philharmonic  to celebrate BBC Music Day (live on BBC Radio 3) and a collaboration with amazing musician Matthew Herbert in a joint commission by BBC Digital Arts, British Council and Edinburgh International Festival.

Kayo – Facilitator & Spoken Word Artist

Kayo Chingonyi (pronounced kai-o chin-gone-yee) is a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry. His first full-length collection, Kumukanda, was published in June 2017 by Chatto & Windus. As well as being widely published in journals and anthologies, Kayo has been invited to read from his work at venues and events across the UK and internationally. He was awarded the Dylan Thomas Prize for Literature, the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and shortlisted for the inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize and has completed residencies with Kingston University, Cove Park, First Story, The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and Royal Holloway University of London in partnership with Counterpoints Arts. He was Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts from Autumn 2015 to Spring 2016. He co-edited issue 62 of Magma Poetry and the Autumn 2016 edition of The Poetry Review.

Glenn – Guitar & Saz

Glenn is a session musician, composer and producer. He is a session guitarist who specialises in traditional acoustic music (flamenco and arabic in particular), but has also worked on projects including Latin, Indian, African and ancient Greco/Roman music. He has performed and studied traditional music worldwide, playing instruments including guitar (flamenco, classical, acoustic and electric), oud and saz. Glenn composes and performs production music for film, TV and other media. Recent composition work includes Ivor Novello award winning and Grammy nominated projects.

Rioghnach – Facilitator, Singer & Irish Flute

Armagh born singer and flautist strongly rooted in her trad Sean-nós background, Ríoghnach Connolly also stirs elements of Appalachia, Blues and Jazz into the folk archive cooking pot. Rioghnach is winner of BBC Folk Awards 2020 & 2021, is signed to Real World Records, and performs with AfroCelt Soundsystem. She has worked with us on all our Manchester programmes since 2015.

Hassan – Photographer & Film-Maker

Originally from Iran, Hassan has worked with Music Action International for the past two years. He has been a photographer and musician for over twenty years. He has taken beautiful photos of our Harmonise LDN programme, working with primary school children towards a performance at the Royal Festival Hall. View more of his beautiful photographs at Music Action International's new Instagram account

Farhaan (Faz) – Facilitator, Viollinist & Beatboxer

Born in Oldham, Faz started playing the violin in studios and on tracks from an early age and moved into classical music around 11 – 12 years old.  Faz pursued beat boxing from aged 13 and his since collaborated within numerous platforms of art, culture, music and movement.  At 18 years old, Faz scripted and wrote the music for his own play in which he played the main role, becoming the first person in Oldham to achieve the Gold Arts Award. Faz has played Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto for Channel 4 with Orchestra United, and recorded and led the recording orchestra for Emmy Award Winning Martyn Swain and with Matt Dunkley, conductor of the films The Dark Knight and Inception. Faz now dedicates his work towards helping young people in education and runs the arts education outreach company Vivo Creative.

Jaydev – Facilitator & Percussion

Jaydev is a guitarist, percussionist and music technologist.  He won an Amnesty award for his music and has collaborated with artists such as Nitin Sawhney and the Kaliphz.  Jaydev has performed in many bands including Timeless Love Orchestra, Giddy and B.B and Me performing in venues including Band on the Wall, the Bridgewater Hall, the Royal Exchange, the Pompidou Centre and the Hackney Empire.  Jaydev also specialises in composition and sound design for theatrical productions, and has been commissioned by companies such as Red Ladder Theatre Company, Theatre in the Mill, and BBC Radio 4.

Naeim ‘Madz’ – Facilitator & Beatboxer

Madz is a 20 year old from Damascus, Syria, who has practiced and performed the art of beatboxing on streets and stages.  Growing up as teenage refugee in Europe he became inspired by different genres of electronic music. He was passionate to develop a way of combining beatboxing with electronic music, and has pushed his musical and performing skills to outstanding levels through the years. Madz has developed “Beatboxing and Compassion” sessions with Music Action International for young children and teenagers. “Music and beatboxing was the thing that helped me when i came to this country. I met so many amazing people and now I love to pass on my skills to fellow human beings”

Merit – Trainer, Facilitator & Singer

Merit Stephanos is a singer, composer, workshop leader and Professor of Music Outreach at the Royal College of Music, London. As a creative artist and leader she has worked for organisations such as the Philharmonic Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Guildhall Connect and Opera North.  After a year spent in Bosnia-Herzegovina working with war traumatised children, Merit has gone on to develop her work in special needs schools, hospitals and refugee centres.    Merit is a trainer for the Trinity/Guildhall KS2 Teacher Training Programme and directs the World Vocal Project for Tower Hamlets Music Services.  Inspired by her German-Egyptian heritage, Merit draws on Arabic and contemporary classical influence in her music.  She performs with singer and oudist Abdul-Salam Kheir, medieval ensemble Joglaresa, Middle Eastern group Troia Nova, early music duo Sambuca and the soprano quartet Tongue Stuff.

Tim Steiner – Trainer

Tim Steiner is a composer and workshop facilitator with a specialty in devised and collaborative performance. He has directed hundreds of creative projects throughout Europe and has worked in virtually every conceivable musical and social context. His work ranges from small-scale devised work to large-scale multi-layered works involving massed groups of professionals, amateurs and beginners. Tim is professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has long term relationships as a workshop facilitator and trainer with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC singers, and has directed work for the London Chamber Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, Britten Sinfonia etc

Jean Paul Samputu – Ambassador and Music Facilitator

Jean Paul Samputu is a singer, songwriter, and musician from Rwanda. He has established himself as one of the most prominent African artists on the world stage. Having survived the Rwanda Genocide of 1994, Jean Paul went on to win the prestigious Kora Award (the “African Grammy”) for Best African Traditional Artist in 2003, as well as numerous international awards, including the Calabash of Peace. Jean Paul travels the world as a cultural ambassador for Rwanda, bringing traditional African singing, dancing, and drumming, and most importantly, a message of peace, hope, and reconciliation. He also continues his efforts to educate young people about genocide through panel discussions and forums at colleges and universities.

Lis Murphy – Creative Director & Founder

Lis Murphy has pioneered the use of singing and songwriting to support war and torture survivors find peace through personal expression and collective experience.  Lis is a professional performing musician, supporting New Order, Billy Bragg and Balkan Beatbox as well as performing with Jane Weaver, Mali superstars Amadou and Mariam and a world premiere by William Orbit.

Emmanuela – Facilitator & Singer

Emmanuela is a singer, creative facilitator and French, Lingala and Swahili interpreter who fled war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is a founding member of the MAI Music Facilitator team. Emmanuela is director of Amani Creatives, which supports the inclusion of local African communities into wider society through performing arts events, workshops and programmes, using the arts and culture as a tool for community development, wellbeing and community cohesion. She performs with Afro-Celt Sound System and recently on a BBC programme about the Sahara.

Noga – Facilitator & Singer

Originally from Israel, Noga has lived in Europe for the last few years. She has performed with various projects in a wide range of musical styles and performs regularly with her band VOCAL GLOBAL. Noga loves to collaborate with artists from different cultures and background and use music as a tool to connect and communicate even at times of conflict. Noga has also been working for Amnesty International TLV as an Activism Coordinator and in the last few years developing creative music projects in various community settings: working with teenagers, people with learning disabilities, homeless people and refugees. Her recent album “Vocal Global” received 4 stars in Songlines magazine.

“When you work together with love
you can achieve anything.”

Amir, Survivor

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