15 weeks sounds like a long time, but for 15 young London-based artists, it flew by as they prepared their craft in anticipation of the culmination of The Collective — a conscious music concert at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green.

The Collective was a conscious music programme for the next generation of artists, organised by You Press, which assisted rising artists in writing and producing socially conscious music.

For many of the young artists, it was their first time performing in front of a live audience.

“Just before I was about to come on, my heart started to pound, I’m not gonna lie to you,” Jhamali J’cento Esprit laughed. “When I got onstage, it was just so good letting everything go… Just the fact that other people are listening to your music, it’s just amazing.”

At 16 years old, J’cento was the youngest participant of The Collective, but he didn’t allow his age to get in the way of his success in the program.

“I knew I was the youngest when I came, but I never let that get to me at any point of the programme. It just gave me motivation to try and do my best and create good work,” J’cento said.

Though the programme was intended to help the singers, rappers, producers, and musicians grow individually and as performers, the artists and mentors soon became a family, collaborating with one another throughout the program and on the night of the concert.

“The family we’ve kind of built together over the past 15 weeks is something that you cannot make up. It’s just been an incredible journey,” said singer-songwriter Farhana Ali, one of The Collective’s music mentors.

Along with the other music mentors, Ali assisted the artists in turning their ideas into songs, building their stage presence, and filling them with confidence, which ultimately allowed the artists to grow into being stronger performers.

For 17-year-old Leah Atarahlee Patten, working with The Collective artists and mentors not only showed her how to build confidence, but confirmed how much she adores singing and songwriting.

“Coming here… it has improved [me] in areas I didn’t expect I needed work on. It’s really helped my confidence and made me realise that I’m not confident. Even though I love what I do, I’m still not really 100% confident in what I do,” Atarahlee said.

“It just made me realise that I really do need to pursue what I’m doing and made me realise how much I love it and how much I don’t want anything else apart from this.”

You Press is currently recruiting for ‘The Collective 2019 group. The deadline to apply is Thursday 31st Jan 2019 and the application can be found here: www.youpress.org.uk/the-collective

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