The Oaklands Sessions

The Oaklands Sessions

From little acorns mighty oaks do grow

Magic Numbers star makes album with London school
Release date 6th July 2013
BBC Radio 2 session confirmed

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One morning in late January 2013, Michele Stodart of The Magic Numbers asked to speak to the head teacher of Oaklands Primary School, Mr. Sash Hamidi, to discuss an idea.

Moved by the deeply sad news in the school's newsletter that a girl from Year 6, Shanade Sharma, had died over the Christmas holidays*, and overwhelmed by the school's great effort to support Shanade’s family and to help the children understand this tragedy, Michele wanted to help. Her idea was to make an album with the children, all 517 of them, in honour of their friend:

"I remembered hearing the Langley Schools Music Project [a cult record from the ’70s] and thinking how great that was: a bunch of school kids singing classic pop songs. I wanted to recreate something similar that would give every child in Oaklands School the opportunity to record their efforts and create something physical, a CD, that they could hold and cherish for a lifetime."
– Michele Stodart

And indeed, everyone's involvement is exactly what she's had. All students aged from 3 to 11 (consisting of 60 children in every year group, at times 90) were singing and playing music, bringing parents, teachers and the community of the school together to make the dream come true.

The choice of songs introduces the children to the last 60 years of popular music – songs as diverse as Fleetwood Mac's 'Everywhere', Blur's 'Tender' and The Carpenters' 'Close To You'. Alongside re-creating these timeless classics, Michele set up a song-writing workshop with a small group from Year 6:

"I started by asking them what they'd want to write a song about: it could be about anything in the whole world, whatever they wanted. The children said, 'let's write about something real, let's write a song for our friend Shanade'."
– Michele Stodart

The resulting song, 'Forever Young', will also feature on the album.

The project is beginning to gain love and support beyond its immediate community and, to much excitement in the school, a Radio 2 session has been confirmed with Dermot O'Leary at the world-famous Maida Vale Studios.

The album will be released on 6th July and will be available on iTunes. Proceeds from the sale of the album will be split between The Dog's Trust (Shanade's favourite charity) and a fund to buy new play equipment for the school playground.

* Shanade died from PVL staphylococcal aureus pneumonia and influenza B