The National Trust has teamed up with Forthlin House, ‘The birthplace of The Beatles’, to give four young musicians the once in a lifetime opportunity to perform in the house itself. Iconic tracks such as ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ were written and rehearsed in this house, birthing something extraordinary. Voice caught up with Serena Ittoo, one of the musicians chosen to perform to chat about the campaign.
As part of The National Trust’s ‘Forthlin Sessions’ you’ve been chosen to perform at the childhood home of Paul and Mike McCartney. How does it feel to have been selected?
I feel honoured to have been selected as one of the 4 artists who have been privileged with the opportunity to write and perform a new original song. I feel the Forthlin home has so much legacy and I feel really grateful that I have been given such an amazing opportunity to write a song inspired by all of its wondrous history.
What was it that initially enticed you to apply for ‘The Forthlin Sessions’?
As soon as I read up on the opportunity, I just thought wow; this is such a once in a lifetime experience and something that I will cherish for the rest of my life…so why not apply for it. The Forthlin home holds so many golden memories and the fact that it is an ordinary house on an ordinary street is so inspiring to me as a young musician. It goes to show that dreams can really come true, if you follow your passions, you can make anything happen.
Of course The Beatles are not only highly successful but real icons of music. How has their music impacted you as a musician?
The Beatles are a universal phenomenon, I’m sure many people would agree with this. Their music has hugely impacted me as a musician but the thing I am inspired by the most is their passion and love for music. When I watch back videos of the Beatles performing, I can just see and feel their passion soaring through how they sing, play and present themselves. I think this is what music is all about. It’s all about doing what you love the most and being your authentic self.
What was it like to be able to visit 20 Forthlin Road and have the opportunity to learn about its history?
Visiting 20 Forthlin Road and having the opportunity to learn about its history was such an enlightening experience last month. As soon as you walk into the home you can sense that this little family home is filled with so much love and hope.
You’ve been tasked with writing a brand new song for the event. As someone who has studied song writing is this something that is very comfortable for you or are you still nervous?
Now that I've written the song I feel excited more than anything. It really is just such a fantastic opportunity and I’m delighted that I am able to experience singing an original song written by me in the special Forthlin home. I enjoy writing songs from different perspectives and for different briefs, whether that is for television, film, adverts or for other artists; so I really enjoyed the experience of writing a song inspired by what I felt about the Forthlin home and its aura. I’ve written the song from Sir Paul McCartney’s perspective too so it was a fun experience to really try and tap into the emotions of how he felt when writing and singing in his childhood home.
After your performance, as part of the project you’ll also receive 6 months of mentoring from the Liverpool Institute Of Performing Arts. How exciting and vital do you think that is for yourself and the other young musicians involved?
I think it’s a lovely opportunity that the National Trust is supporting us artists, allowing us to have 6 months of mentoring from the Liverpool Institute Of Performing Arts – which was founded by Sir Paul McCartney himself. The music industry is a tough industry in itself, so to be able to network with other aspiring musicians and music mentors and learn from each other is something that I am really grateful for.
This coming Friday, you'll be performing live in the house. How have you prepared and what are you most looking forward to?
I feel confident with my intention and delivery of the song and more excited to take this out and perform to a wider audience. I am most looking forward to just soaking in the atmosphere, when I sing and perform my song. It's written about the home itself, so I can’t wait to just totally feel every single lyric that I sing on Friday. I know it’s going to be an experience I cherish for the rest of my life.
Finally, since the ‘Forthlin Sessions’ has such strong ties to The Beatles, what's the Beatles song you're most connected to?
The Beatles song I am most connected to is the iconic ballad “Let It Be”. I resonate and value the heartfelt message penned by Sir Paul McCartney of letting things be and trusting and having faith that everything will be okay. The song is universal and I believe everyone can resonate with the wise wisdom expressed in the track. The song holds so much meaning, value and poignancy not just through the emotional lyrical sentiment of the piece, but also through how the song is sung and the music is played so expressively – you can really feel it. It reminds me of my Mum who serves as my everyday hero – she always tells me that happiness is a journey not a destination.
You can read more about The Forthlin Sessions here.