Brandon teenagers make national music competition finals

Lauren Bradford (singer), Ryan Donelan (bass), Ashley Hunt (guitar), Ben Spalding (guitar), Reuben Cocksedge (drums) from Brandon youth band Once Awake. ANL-151003-173011001
Lauren Bradford (singer), Ryan Donelan (bass), Ashley Hunt (guitar), Ben Spalding (guitar), Reuben Cocksedge (drums) from Brandon youth band Once Awake. ANL-151003-173011001
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A group of budding Brandon musicians performed the show of their lives last month, playing to crowds in a famed London venue during a national music competition final.

Five-piece band Once Awake was formed at the Music Arts Project (MAP), a Brandon-based project which helps people under the age of 19 to engage with music and visual arts.

The band was nominated by Elizabeth Truss MP for a place in the Rock The House finals at London pub and music venue The Bedford Hotel, which has formerly hosted 
fellow Suffolk singer Ed Sheeran.

Drummer Reuben Cocksedge, 14, said: “A week before the competition we got a phone call saying one of 
the finalists had dropped out, and would we like to compete. It was a bit of luck, I called round and everyone was up for it.

“We didn’t get a podium place by the fact that we got there was pretty awesome, it was a great experience for us.”

Reuben, a student at Iceni Academy, started attending workshops at MAP around a year ago.

As well as offering four-hour workshops every Saturday, MAP, which is funded by donations, provides budding artists with the chance to record music and perform in public and works with a number of local schools.

“There’s recording and rehearsal facilities, and it’s an amazing opportunity because there are people in the industry who will give you hints and tips for starting a music career,” said Reuben.

“The band certianly wouldn’t have got together if it wasn’t for MAP. If we want to make it as a group, this is one of the best starts we could have had.

“We’re doing some writing at the moment. We want to get an album recorded by the end of the year.”

Michael Cocksedge, Reuben’s father, said: “My two children have flourished and gained enormous confidence in all aspects since they joined MAP a year ago.

“To think that Brandon hosts such a wonderful musical project and to nurture a band of youths that have written their own song and performed in the national finals, is awesome and all the parents are brimming with pride.”

Once Awake will be performing at the Royal British Legion in Brandon tonight.