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Song brought to life thanks to music students

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Published on 09 December 2021

Sunderland music students performing Little Girl
Sunderland music students performing Little Girl

Talented Sunderland music students have answered an appeal to record a song written by a dad for his daughter, 56 years after it was composed.

Karen Robson, from Blaydon, contacted BBC Radio Newcastle in September and said she'd like some help re-recording some music her dad, Brian Teasdale Snr, composed when she was a baby. Although Brian had been a prolific poet and songwriter all his life, a brain injury sustained in an assault ten years ago left him unable to compose and needing round-the-clock care.

After Brian contracted COVID-19 earlier this year, staff in the facility in Newcastle where he lives told Karen her dad might not have long left. She resolved to get some of his music re-recorded so that she could play it to him and reassure Brian, 89, that he and his life’s work would be remembered.

Karen spoke to BBC Radio Newcastle’s Gilly Hope on air and appealed for any musicians listening who might be able to re-record one song in particular - Little Girl - a lullaby Brian wrote especially for Karen.

Twelve students, who are studying a University of Sunderland foundation degree in Applied Music Practice in partnership with Sunderland College, offered to rework Brian’s original recording, which had deteriorated.

When the track was played on the radio it received a huge reaction from listeners, with many contacting the station to say they were moved to tears and would like to buy the song.

Karen said: “I’m absolutely overwhelmed, I can’t thank everyone enough.

"This song means everything to me and now everyone can hear it. It’s an absolute dream.”

The students who performed the track are Nova Brown, Katie Chambers, Nathan Clark, Connor Dixon, Alex Harris, Caitlin McLaren, Jamie Rankcom, Louis Robinson, Dominic Robson, Grace Vickers-Stephenson, John Wright and Tia Kyriakides.

Tia said: “We knew it was something so special and important to Brian and his family and we were honoured to be trusted with such an important task. That’s what music is all about, bringing people together.

“We wanted to keep it as close as possible to the original version, so that it was fully dedicated to Brian, but we had so much fun putting our own little twists and turns on it.”

Tony Wilson, Music Lecturer at Sunderland College, said: “The students have taken on much more than one of their usual projects - they have taken on a responsibility.

“They were aware from the start that even with such a quick turn-around, due to Brian’s rapidly declining health, the song had to be re-recorded to the highest standard possible.

“Not a single thought was given to publicity or record deals, it was just something they knew they had to do.

"They have displayed the utmost in professionalism, dedication and humility and they are an absolute credit.”

Tony used his extensive links with the industry to secure a record deal with Sapien Records Ltd. When David Smith from the Durham-based record company heard the song, he immediately offered to release it.

The students came up with the band name of Brian and the Buttercups.

David provided the cover art for the single (based on a picture of Karen as a child) and on December 3rd this year, Karen’s dream of her dad’s music being released came true as the song became available to download, with the potential of a CD release.

Listen to Little Girl by Brian and The Buttercups here.

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