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Oh no, no, it ain't me babe

Organisers of a competition for young musicians are appealing for would-be protest singers in colleges to show off their work.

Colleges are being asked to seek out budding rap stars or protest singers who can create "engaging lyrics" on the burning political issues of today.

The Learning and Skills Development Agency says it is searching for the next Bob Dylan or Billy Bragg among young people studying citizenship at colleges.

It is staging a contest to find the best songs or raps in which the lyrics are related to a citizenship theme, such as justice, equality, or democracy.

Bernadette Joslin, the LSDA's citizenship project manager, said: "We are following in the footsteps of the great protest singers like Dylan, Bragg and Joan Baez.

"What we are looking for are young people with a strong message to get across. They don't have to be accomplished writers or musicians, simply someone with enthusiasm, something to say, and a desire to get involved."

The LSDA said the competition is open to all music genres including rock, rb, folk, jazz, hip-hop, garage and bangra.

It said the inspiration for the competition came from rap performer Kenneth Dunning, a former citizenship student at Richmond-on-Thames college in London, who has written and performed raps for LSDA citizenship conferences.

Mr Dunning said: "Rapping started off as a hobby for me, but now it helps me to express my feelings about important issues and also to explain what citizenship is about to my peers in a way they can relate to.

"Citizenship to me is about being able to express your views about situations within your community and come up with ways to make them better."

One stipulation for entries is that lyrics must avoid swearing and demonstrate respect for others.

Winners will be invited to record their song or rap on a citizenship DVD and will also be asked to perform at a public event for other young people.

The post-16 citizenship development programme was set up by the Department for Education and Skills to combat "young people's apathy about politics."

* The deadline for entries is December 2.

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