By ADF Newsdesk –
The ADF business spotlight highlights organisations and individuals from across the diaspora who are making a difference in their local communities.
Our first post is focused on musician, rapper and entrepreneur Joel Simmy and his grassroots creative workshop, Mic Champs.
What is Mic Champs?
Mic Champs (MC) is a six-week rap/poetry/creative writing workshop that encourages young people to express their unique voices in innovative and creative ways.
The workshop consists of developing rhyming schemes, brainstorming on a chosen topic(s), and allowing them to decide how they would like to express their work, with assistance from MC to help develop their vision.
Students work both independently and collectively. Upon completion of the workshop, students then have the go-ahead to record, perform, create visuals and expand on their work.
Who is Joel Simmy?
Mic Champs was created and is run by Joel Simmy, a Rapper, Musician, and Playwriter, born and raised in Huddersfield. His creative expression is to show strength in vulnerability and inspire the masses to speak their truth.
In September 2023, Joel released Here’s Your Notice, a 2-track EP centred around self-discovery, adolescence, authenticity and an outlook on the youth being misled by media, difficult upbringings and mental health.
His music has been featured on BBC Radio 1Xtra, Capital Xtra and Kiss Fresh FM. Joel has performed in London, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, and Liverpool.
Listen to ‘Mislead’ by Joel Simmy, from the EP Here’s Your Notice
Before starting Mic Champs, Joel worked with Hoot Creative Arts and Kirklees Musica, providing lessons and music opportunities for schools and centres across Kirklees.
Through Kirklees Musica, he delivered rap/poetry workshops at Royds Hall High School, Batley Girls High School, Moor End High School and REACH.
Joel has also worked with Conscious Youth and Conflict Resolutions, delivering motivational talks about his music career and goals.
It was through his work with these organisations that Joel realised he wanted to create a writing workshop which would positively impact young lives.
Joel says that creative writing is a holistic way to express oneself. Creative writing can develop confidence, communication, creative thinking and transparency for all young people in expressing their truths.
Mic Champs champions each student for participating. They want to encourage authenticity as the new ‘cool’ for young people to help dissolve social and peer pressures.
For Joel, self-expression was the key factor for him when he first started writing lyrics. He says that seeing a handful of similarities among the students is empowering because some may write journals instead of writing with the intent to perform their written pieces.
The first official Mic Champs workshop began in April this year at North Huddersfield Trust School in collaboration with Huddersfield Town Foundation.
The students brainstormed song concepts and instrumental choices, expanded on their chosen topic(s), practised their delivery and vocal performances, worked collectively, and pieced their ideas together.
On week six, students, staff and Joel all visited a local recording studio and recorded the song Clearest of Signs together as a collective. This was the first time the students visited a recording studio.
Huddersfield Town Foundation loved the song, and Huddersfield Town Football Club decided to launch the track with their announcement and release of the club’s 3rd kit for the 2023/24 season.
Huddersfield Town announced their 3rd kit for the 2023/24 season, featuring the students of the Mic Champs workshop and their song Clearest of Signs
Following on from the success of the first workshop, Joel has since spoken at high schools in Manchester and the University of Huddersfield.
Joel is continuing to expand on the message of Mic Champs and create awareness of how the workshop can help the youth improve their cognitive thinking, emotional intelligence, patience and drive.
Mic Champs intend to connect with high schools, youth organisations, football community clubs and prisons to help the youth deal with mental health issues, political, social, and economic pressures.
For Joel, the first workshop was an eye-opener, and everyone saw the potential in the students who aspire to go further in the music industry.
Mic Champs will now look to expand its workshop offerings to include beat-making services, how-to’s on recording music videos, social media content creation, live performances, single/artwork design concepts and song structuring.
Ultimately, Mic Champs was designed to give back, help mentor, and encourage students to embrace themselves.
Joel’s message is to be yourself, as that’s the start towards freedom.
If you’d like to learn more about Mic Champs, or are interested in hosting a workshop in your school/youth organisation, you can contact Joel via Linktree.