Quick Q and A with Martyn Joseph

Martyn Joseph is an A-lister in both the Arts and Activism. For him, the two are intrinsically entwined.  The music that Martyn creates contains many lyrics which are inspirational and thought-provoking.  He leads the listener into the everyday world and magnifies the issues that we are surrounded by but he reminds us that by letting ourselves love one another, the world can, indeed, become a better place.

To learn more about Martyn, visit his website.

If you’re interested in his non-profit organization called “Let Yourself Trust,” go to this site.

Check out this animated video of the title track of Martyn’s latest album, “Here Come the Young.”  Antje Duvekot created the video.

“Here Come the Young” was just named Best Original English Language Song at the Wales Folk Awards.  Congratulations!  Is this the first time you’ve been recognized in that manner?

It’s the first award for this album/song but not my first award in Wales or beyond. I’m grateful to say there have been a number of them lately including a Spirit Of Folk Award at Folk Alliance International in 2018..I guess having been at this for some 35 years it’s that time. It’s very humbling.

This isn’t a music-related question, but I was curious and just looked up how many Welsh people actually speak Welsh these days.  Apparently, only about 19% of people living in Wales speak Welsh.  What’s your relationship with the language? 

That stat would be right. We learn Welsh at school til around the age of 14 but the geography of where I lived meant that it was not the prevalent language and I was encouraged to drop it and learn something that ‘would be more useful.” I resent that and wish that I knew more of the ancient poetry of my country. It’s a pretty tough language to learn but it/s a beautiful one.

How does the music of Wales differentiate from other parts of the UK (or doesn’t it)?

Not that much really. We have had our share of commercially successful bands and artists, some icons like Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey. We do have a great tradition of Choral and community singing and there is no sound quite like a Welsh male voice choir. But there is a great passion within it all and that may be from seeing ourselves very much as the small underdog.

I’m struck by the song “Communion” on your new album.  I was looking for the lyrics but I’m pretty sure that you’re singing “when we’re all cried out from singing, we’re gonna rise up singing again…..”  It’s a powerful visual image to me and I’m wondering if this song was sparked from a particular incident you know about or something you’ve personally experienced?  It’s a great message of hope, so thanks for that.

Well. there is a line in there about making the bed being like breaking bread and falling into communion with the one you love. So I was pondering the mundane and remembering how important it was to be faithful in the little things which led to thoughts of community and collective responsibility. It/s a call to remember who we are, the best of that, and to make sure that we keep on doing what’s right.

Another favorite song of mine is “Driving Her Back to London” — one that I heard you do last year in concert and is on the new CD. It’s very touching. As a parent, I love the message of intergenerational understanding and love and poignant recognition of how we these little moments in time with our children as so rich in so many ways.  What was your daughter’s reaction to the song?

Well she brings her friends to shows and she is 24 years old so that’s a good sign 🙂 She doesn’t say a lot about it but I think there is an understanding of the fragility and strength of what it’s trying to say. It’s also me pleading that she leaves behind the worst or negative or whatever any parent might bring and hold onto the good that you have shown. Our prayer should be that our children’s mistakes will be their own and not because of anything we handed down.

In my last interview with you, you mentioned that you were aspiring to be a professional golf pro when you were young.  Do you still play?  What is it about the game that gives you joy?

 I do play and practice whenever I can. I play off a 5 handicap these days which is ok. I often feel that, as far as sport is concerned, Golf is the last bastion of fair play out there. That it has retained a certain old-fashioned quality that has been lost in other games. Jack Nicklaus was my boyhood hero and I learned a lot about the way he conducted himself amidst victory and defeat. I love the game in almost a spiritual-like way. I wrote a song that was used a little bit when the Ryder Cup was played in Wales a few years ago. There is a video that goes with it on YouTube..it’s called “’On This Celtic Morning”..and it pretty much sums it all up for me.

You’ve had the opportunity to play at many festivals around the world and at many clubs and small venues.  Do you need to change the way you approach your performance depending on where you’re playing? 

 No, not really. It’s always the same for me … the blessing of the job, the knowledge that folks are giving you a few hours of their lives. By return I try to play each show as if it’s the last I ever get to play with the thought in mind that something amazing might be happening, that music has the ability to change or refuel our hearts and minds, remind us who we really are and encourage someone to take another step forward. I don’t leave much back in the locker room (to continue the golf theme) and play with the same passion and energy if there are thousands or tens.

What is the latest on your humanitarian charity, Let Yourself Trust?  What are some of your most recent efforts and do you have plans for any more trips in the near future?

Well, we just had our fifth-year anniversary and I will leave you with the summary below of what has happened so far. This is all due to the support of folk who attend my shows and are behind the music’s greater vision. We only work with small organisations who are doing amazing work but are underfunded and under publicised. We work with them for 6 months and then move onto another project though we circle back from time to time to try and help out again. I’m also trying to encourage other artists to think about doing something similar with the audience that trusts them. We have also take artists, like the wonderful Antje Duvekot to view some of the projects and let it impact their work in whatever way they see fit. It has been an amazing five years since we started the LYT and I can’t wait to see what the next five bring!
FIVE YEARS OF LYT: 

2014-2019 — An Overview 

  • Just over £350,000 raised in 5 years to date — with a goal to have raised HALF A MILLION POUNDSby the end of year 6!!
  • Have donated just under £240,000 to 10 Main projects and 5 Community Development Donation projects to date, with the first half of 2019 donations pending at the end of June.

 

PROJECT DONATION YEAR
Alrowwad Theatre – West Bank £6,300.00 2014
Project Somos – Guatemala £16,634.64 2014
Zac’s Place – Swansea £16,000.00 2015
Advantage Africa – Albinism/Uganda £18,000.00 2015
Grassy Narrows – Canada £16,000.00 2016
Festival Spirit – UK £16,000.00 2016
Advantage Africa CDD / SPAU Crafts £2,000.00 2017
Alrowwad CDD £10,000.00 2017
IAM Strong – USA £20,020.00 2017
Jeevan Asha – India £25,000.00 2017
Palestine CDD / Gaza / 2 Projects £18,000.00 2018
Mobile School – Europe £25,000.00 2018
Advantage Africa CDD / Disability Project/ Kenya £15,000.00 2018
Women Together – Global £25,000.00 2018
Project Somos CDD £10,000.00 2018
TOTAL £238,954.64
  • To date, LYT has worked in 11 Countries:  West Bank Palestine, Guatemala, Wales, Uganda, Canada, England, America, India, Europe, Kenya, Gaza, and Haiti.
  • In the last 5 years LYT has supported 10 projects (currently on our 11th), led 3 volunteer trips, given 5 community development grants and partnered with 4 incredible Artist Ambassadors from both sides of the pond – Antje Duvekot, Sam Kelley, Willy Porter & Grace Petrie.
  • Future plans include a 4th volunteer trip, 2 new Artist Ambassadors, an Auction, a Craft Store/Merch Store, building a fundraiser street team, continuing to branch out into new communities all over the world & more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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