International Performer Creates UNIQUE VARIETY SHOW CHALLENGE to help aid wellbeing for CHILDREN
This week is the start of a new chapter for a singer from Hackney whose livelihood was under threat thanks to Covid-19, but who in the last 6 month has reinvented herself to create a new business that has seen her help kids across the UK thrive in lockdown, and is now providing jobs for others from the theatre industry.
Kerri, 35 , an extremely talented international blues and jazz singer who has traveled the world performing and has been described by industry magazine, The Stage as “A Million Dollars At Any Years Prices” is also an experienced youth worker and drama teacher - a path she pursued before being signed to the same agency as Lady Gaga which saw her playing at sell-out events, singing for celebs and royalty alike.
When her business and livelihood Dixiebird Records came under threat with all gigs canceled and all revenue removed she achieved the ultimate pivot, considering how she could tap into her wider skills to support children and parents stuck at home, bringing some joy and fun, and developing creativity along the way. She launched Retro Performing Arts Co, through which she ran an online 6-week course, calling upon her expansive network of artists (many of whom also lost their jobs and income overnight) to support her new venture to ensure that during lockdown (and beyond) children and young people everywhere had access to a creative outlet. Activities included hosting a rap project with teenage girls in a care home to holding online drama games and improv lessons, culminating in bringing children from ages 6 to 16 together to perform in an online summer school and even a Halloween inspired course last October.
Seeing how the Academy has built confidence, nurtured creativity, addressed anxiety and provided a new community that helped with the challenges of everyday lockdown life, Kerri was determined to build upon her success and has just launched an Online Variety Show Challenge, in a bid to support more children, and parents to boost wellbeing and creativity as we come out of lockdown.
Kerri is also proud to be ‘doing her bit’ for the industry, bringing her passion and theatrical know-how to living rooms across the country with the help of showbiz pros who are the best in the industry, Kerri said: “Lockdown has taught me a lot in terms of just how much we rely on the creative arts for our wellbeing and happiness. Seeing parents worried that their children had become stressed with homeschooling and frustrated by the lack of social contact and families struggling to know what to do in isolation for creativity made me realize that it was my responsibility as someone from the arts, to share my skills to help.”
The 6-week Variety Show Challenge is all set to kick off on Monday 1st March.
Kerri added: “I am so excited to be putting this out into the world - not only to help the kids but to support parents too as well as sharing part of our diverse arts scene here in the Uk on a global scale. With many parents having celebrated the end of home-schooling the reality of having to continue to keep the kids occupied whilst also still trying to manage work and life without the release of their summer holiday means that the next 6 weeks are looking daunting. Kids will get the chance to expand their learning and knowledge of the performing arts, whilst having loads of fun - so zero guilt needed from parents! Our amazing teachers and well-known performers have created an environment that is relaxed, friendly and easy-going, and their infectious energy and genuine love for performing is coupled with their expert connection to the world of theatre. There is also a chance for kids to connect and hang out online with new friends from across the world via these amazing super interactive sessions.”
The Variety Show Challenge is a 6-week course, with pre-recorded lessons and live interactive drama sessions on zoom. The children get a chance to take part in a celebration and create their very own ‘act’ which will be scheduled into an official show online. To book please visit: https://www.theretroperformingartscompany.com/varietyshowchallenge
Kerri says of where her desire for the arts came from:“ I was a shy army child, who struggled with my identity and didn’t have many friends, moving regularly from town to town during my childhood - I would escape by making mini-theatre shows up in my room and performing them for friends on park benches, or for anyone who would watch. It helped me overcome my shyness and I later found a deep love for communicating and connecting with the world through singing and performing and knew that I loved using my talents to raise spirits ad create community – something we all needed at the start of lockdown, this is why I initially launched the Vintage Performing Arts Academy and why I am so passionate about my Summer School too.”
She added: “ I truly believe in the power of bringing people together to have a really positive shared experience using the arts, music, and drama as a vehicle to create deep transformations in communities, families and individuals.”