I imagine curiosity brought you here, so allow me to introduce myself… I was born and raised in rural County Durham I am a ‘Community Musician’; a title which encapsulates the following ever changing roles; Folk Singer, Music Practitioner, Performer, Educator, Musical Director and Creative Producer working in Community Arts & Culture and Social Justice.
I passionately believe the creative arts can change our world ~ as it has mine ~ believe me, I see this every day in my work, life and play. It creates, shapes, defines and changes our hearts, minds, moods, lives, attitudes, opinions and politics. It lifts our spirits, brings us joy, unifies, unites and provides unique opportunity for connection, creativity and community. It enables us to explore and engage with our histories, heritage, stories, politics, landscape and earth - our world.
Through my work I actively advocate the use of music, community arts and culture as tools for education, engagement and expression. I am continually developing my practice, exploring how we can best utilise music and the arts to empower ourselves, to benefit our own health and wellbeing and that of our communities; to gain and develop skills and confidence is our abilities and to equip both ourselves and others with the necessary skills and tools needed to create positive and sustainable personal, social and political change.
Since early childhood I have lived with chronic lifelong health conditions and live with hidden (dis)abilities. I was home educated from the age of 7. Due to my own unconventional educational journey, I can personally attest to the power of music and art as tools for learning and expression; and have decades of both personal and professional experience of using the arts for therapy and healing, to improve health and wellbeing.
I have encountered, experienced and endured the myriad of barriers, challenges, prejudices and struggles so many face - so often silently - within our society. I understand in depth the daily physical, psychological and emotional struggles faced by those 'othered', considered to be different or 'dis'abled and I have fought with all my strength to overcome these challenges and break down these barriers.
In response to my own experiences and observations I strive to create and develop inclusive, accessible, supportive and welcoming spaces in which to create, explore, play, share and practice; free from judgement and prejudice, where kindness, compassion and creativity come before criticism and the seemingly impossible attainment of artistic perfection.
I believe in education for action, education for all and access to education as key to life-long learning. Everyone has a fundamental right to learn, to live, to know, to evolve and grow. We must
all strive to create the change; the conditions needed to enable, support and nurture opportunities for all to access and utilise these rights.
As an independent, freelance practitioner, I deliver creative arts, music, education and consultancy work within a diverse range of settings; in communities, schools, prisons, hospitals, universities, charities, NHS and support services and organisations. I am proud to work with everyone; children, young people and adults from all walks of life, backgrounds, ages and abilities.
My work is diverse, eclectic and exciting and alongside my regular projects, commissions and production work I also lead many choirs and singing groups throughout the North East region. I count my blessings that my passion - community arts and culture - is also my career. I have worked incredibly hard to make it so and I am very proud of all I have achieved, despite adversity and challenges I have encountered along the way.
Alongside my Community Music and Education work, I am a long standing, passionate and committed political and social activist, advocate and ally; actively involved in a range of social, economic and environmental justice causes and campaigns including an array of local, regional, national and global issues including; war, racism, poverty, public services, environmental and climate change, human rights, women’s rights and empowerment - all the while calling for more creative approaches to political campaigning - as demonstrated through my extensive protest song work.
As a Folk Singer and writer of radical songs, I am passionate in sharing the stories, spells and worlds our music, songs and words can weave. I sing a huge range of traditional, contemporary and historic folk music.
I am deeply passionate about the use of traditional and historical music, song and culture as tools for learning and entertainment and actively involved in developing, devising and delivering education projects advocating the use of historical and radical song. I specialise in singing songs of hope, peace, protest, freedom and social justice.
I love music from around the world, singing, composing, adapting, arranging, leading and performing songs old, new and all in between. I love to make, create, perform and explore music that makes one think, feel, act and dance!
I love to collaborate, co~create and work cooperatively with other artists, practitioners, directors and producers ~ and have worked on some amazing projects, with some incredible people over the years, from whom I have learned more than words or songs could tell...
My work and music is a blossoming and ever evolving tapestry of creativity and colour, and I hope my website ~ hand crafted with love since 2014 ~ will give you a brief glimpse into my world.
With love, peace and in solidarity forever,
Bethany Elen x