Liverpool songwriter celebrates home city on debut album

A talented young Liverpool singer-songwriter is to release a debut album which celebrates the city he calls home.

Joshua Henderson, who is a learning disabled artist, will officially launch Songs of Liverpool for Friends with a special performance at the Bluecoat on Thursday, 20 June, to coincide with this year’s Learning Disability Awareness Week.

Ahead of that, Mersey Ferry passengers will be some of the first to hear the new tracks – which together form a love letter to Liverpool – when they are played during sailings on the river, with Josh on board in person for the special event.

The album of original songs was recorded at the city’s The Cabin studio with the support of innovative Liverpool disability and deaf arts organisation DaDa and with the assistance of a grant from the Youth Music NextGen Fund which aims to help young creatives across the UK realise their dreams.

The former Redbridge High School and Notre Dame Catholic College student, from Walton, started playing the guitar at the age of nine, inspired by his musical dad. He also plays piano and drums.

He became involved with DaDa through the organisation’s DaDa Ensemble project, which works with young disabled musicians to compose and perform original music, and he wrote his first song – Here I Am – in 2018.

The autobiographical number about his life as a musician opens the new album which is the result of two years’ work and features nine new songs including Liverpool is My City Home, This Is the Liverpool Skyline, Capital of Culture 08, Bluecoat, Minecraft Liverpool and This is Anfield – the latter inspired by his love of Liverpool FC.

Josh, whose passion for music is contagious, said, “Liverpool is my home city. Liverpool is my favourite place. It’s where I do my art and I like the buildings, they make me calm. I like to go down on a sunny day and get on the ferry; I love feeling the breeze and looking over at the city.”

The 29-year-old, whose musical heroes include The Beatles, The La’s, Keane, and U2, has also designed the album cover’s artwork, based on his own painting of Liverpool. He has spent several years working with the Blue Room at the Bluecoat to develop his fine art talents and pays tribute to the historic arts centre in two songs.

Speaking about other tracks on the album he said, “My thing is rock and roll, but I wanted Minecraft Liverpool to be gentle. It’s about the city and the game I use the blocks to build with. Choosing my building songs. It’s about Liverpool but it’s also about me being involved with Bluecoat.

“I wrote Liverpool is my City Home in a church that went on fire near Everton Park. Then my friends were making these sounds, and I was just over the moon. It got me inspired by Keane because my favourite song by them is Crystal Ball. The riff in that song inspired the riff in my song.”

All the numbers have been written and arranged by Josh who performs vocals, electric guitar and piano.

The singer-songwriter is joined on the album by Mollie Parkinson on bass and Tyler Sherwood on drums, while there are additional vocals, piano and keyboards from producer Jon Hering, with fellow producer David Kelly providing vocals and rhythm guitar.

Meanwhile the cello on the track Capital of Culture 08 is played by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s Georgina Aasgaard.

DaDa, founded in 1984, develops and presents excellent disability and Deaf arts through a multi-art form artistic programme that includes high-quality festivals, interventions and events, fed in to by a year-round programme of engagement work with developing and established artists, young disabled, Deaf and neurodivergent people, their families and the wider community.

The first DaDaFest International was presented in 2001 as a platform to showcase the work of disabled, Deaf and neurodivergent artists.

Its Young Ensemble project is run in partnership with Resonate Liverpool’s Music Hub, Drake Music and Youth Music.

DaDa Executive Producers Ngozi Ugochukwu and Rachel Rogers said, “Josh has been on a journey of artist development with DaDa for a long time now, and it has been our pleasure to watch him grow and develop as an artist. Along with our friends at Blue Room we have supported Josh to showcase his fine art skills as well as work with him to develop his musical ability.

“Passion for his craft oozes out of Josh, and his creative flair is infectious to those around him. Josh is a wonderful example of how if we nurture creative talent in disabled artists, they can develop truly impactful and inspiring work like this album.”

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