I believe that music is a universal language to express joy, sadness, recall good times and bad.
When Michele Stodart, one of our new mums at Oaklands, presented the idea of creating a school album, how could we say no? As a school we had suffered a tragic loss – one of our children, Shanade Sharma, died unexpectedly on Boxing Day 2012. Shanade was a girl known by so many at Oaklands for her warmth, her smile and her bubbly personality. Her death affected us all and it was hard to see how to move forwards.
The music album has presented us with a way to do this. All the children singing songs from years gone by, coming together in an album creating a lasting legacy. For Michele to lead this and take this further by working with Shanade's friends to write a song – Forever Young – to ensure Shanade's memory lasts forever, is something that has helped us all come to terms with such a tragedy. Music truly can help to heal the soul.
So, enjoy listening to our 517 children singing with all their might! We have loved the experience and are so grateful to Michele, the team of parents, the staff and all the children for committing to making this album. We have learned not just to sing, but to produce, mix and record an album, and see it make the transition from recording studio to an album you can download on iTunes. This amazing learning experience, mixed with the celebration of Shanade's life, is yet another reason why Oaklands is a community school I feel so very proud to lead.
Enjoy our album, sing along and reminisce to great songs from the last decades. Thank you for purchasing our special music celebration. Sales from the album will fund new play equipment and learning resources for all our children and also support the Dog's Trust, Shanade's favourite charity.
No dream is impossible, however old you are. Everyone should be given the chance to sing, to use their voice to express what's inside.
Hopefully, this project will help children to realise "hey, I could do that", to have the confidence to stand up and perform, to take up an instrument, or write a song. After all, they've just recorded their first album!
It has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me to work with the beautiful, innocent voices of Oaklands Primary School and to witness the power of music bringing everyone closer together. I'm very proud and honoured to be a part of this project and to have been able to share in the school's amazing response to the tragic loss of Shanade - especially working with her friends to create the incredibly moving song, 'Forever Young'.
We've enjoyed singing and recording 'The Oaklands Sessions', I hope you enjoy listening. It's truly something to cherish for a lifetime.
Lots of love, Michele xx
This album is dedicated in loving memory of Shanade Sharma - "With all our wishes and dreams, Oaklands is where you will be, forever and ever... forever young."