First chancers - Rap Group

5th May 2006 at 01:00
If you go down to west London on a Saturday morning, you may hear the sound of the First Chancers, a rap band whose three members all have learning and physical disabilities.

Eugenia Berton, 21, Daniel Mitchell, 22, and Zoe Brien, 22, who formed the band four years ago, write all their own songs and are about to issue their third CD, this time using instrumental backing and a choir of young people with learning difficulties.

During the day, Zoe and Eugenia are further education students and Daniel works as a volunteer in a cafe run by Hafad (Hammersmith and Fulham Action on Disability), the youth support organisation under whose auspices the band was originally formed.

Hafad continues to support them, bringing together the eight-strong backing choir for the new CD and organising supporting musicians and percussion and keyboard teaching for the band so they can accompany themselves.

But in the evenings they perform at gigs across south London: at the Albany Theatre, the Ealing Jazz Festival, the Croydon Clocktower and the nightclub Beautiful Octopus.

Their lyrics are "soul-searching", according to their manager and Hafad creative arts youth worker Kirstie Wallace, and their commitment profound: making the new CD has been at least four months' work.

"Their songs are based on their life experiences: around what it's like to be a teenager with disabilities. They're fabulous," she says.

For more details, contact Hafad on 0207 471 8535.

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