Shell Out Sounds (SOS) is a group of singers, musicians and activists who see Shell’s sponsorship of the Southbank Centre – one of the UK’s major cultural institutions – as entirely unacceptable. Our chief concerns are runaway climate change, Canadian tar sands exploitation, fracking and Arctic drilling, (though that list could easily be much longer). We make music partly to bring the stories of communities impacted by Shell’s operation s all over the world into the heart of the capital, and also to celebrate those communities’ resistance. Partly inspired by London Rising Tide, Liberate Tate, the Reclaim Shakespeare Company and Yoko Ono’s work in New York with Artists Against Fracking, SOS performances fuse indignation with celebration, and further blur the boundary between performance and protest. We use melody, harmony, poetry and rhythm to move hearts and expose Shell’s greenwash, ringing out the end of the oil age and ringing in an age of justice.
Shell Out Sounds was a respectful but nonetheless uninvited guest during the South Bank’s 2013 Shell Classic International season. In October 2013, we performed in the Royal Festival Hall auditorium minutes before a concert in featuring ‘O King’, a musical tribute to Martin Luther King by composer Luciano Berio, for which we rewrote the spiritual (and civil rights anthem), ‘Wade in the Water’, rechristening it ‘Oil in the Water’, (thanks for the banner, Stig!) Having been prepared for heckles and boos, we were surprised and delighted when the audience applauded, with several even clapping along enthusiastically, (bad news for those who would like to claim that opposition to oil sponsorship is an extremist position.)
We saw out the year with a merrily naughty series of specially rewritten carols inside the Shell-sponsored Atmosphere exhibition at the Science Museum, after which we had a finale inside and outside the Royal Festival Hall, where we were joined by many friends and even a few passers-by. Then 2014 began with the extraordinary news that the 2014-15 classical season at the South Bank will be Shell-free…celebrations the order of the day for our performances at the last of the Shell-sponsored concerts in March, May and June 2014!
We welcome friendly interaction with (and feedback from) Southbank employees (with whom we have no quarrel), and would love to hear from singers and musicians – amateur, professional or undecided – who might want to participate in future compositions and performances.
To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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