Today, for Yorkshire Day (Thursday, 1 August 2013), Welcome to Yorkshire is launching a star-studded charity remake of On Ilkla Moor Bah’tat to celebrate Yorkshire and the reignite interest in the county’s anthem.
The song was the brainchild and project of Harrogate’s Cause UK, an agency that supports charities.
The idea to remake Yorkshire’s national anthem originated with Clair Challenor Chadwick, MD of Cause UK. She pitched the idea to Welcome to Yorkshire, who commissioned Cause UK to project manage the song and film.
Clair got on board Sheffield songwriter Eliot Kennedy (who created the Spice Girls, and writes for Take That, Bryan Adams and was Artistic Director on the X Factor; Elioit also co-wrote the Jubilee song ‘Sing’ with Gary Barlow).
From there, she roped in Brian Blessed, Lesley Garrett and Harrogate’s own Rock Up and Sing; before organising a film shoot on Ilkley Moor.
Cause UK MD, Clair Challenor Chadwick, said:
It all started in the pub like many a great plot at the start of 2012. An associate of Cause UK, Mark Dexter, was telling us about his friend Gordon Eddison a schoolteacher and brass band director. Gordon had complained to Mark only about 10 per cent of his students knew the song.”
Cause UK issued a press release with Mark to help raise awareness of the Otley brass band’s work. The story took off, appearing on The One Show, Radio 4 Today programme and The Telegraph.
We knew this touched a nerve and had legs.
So we mulled it over and came up with the idea of a video-song-remake to engage younger people that could go viral. We pitched the concept to Welcome to Yorkshire, and that was that.
What followed was an intensive six months. Clair had contacted her friend, the Sheffield songwriter Eliot Kennedy to see if he’d re-write the song. His response, as a proud Yorkshire man, was ‘Awesome’.
The thing about Eliot is he’s a man with a heart and soul as big as the county he was born and bred in: Yorkshire,” Clair said. “He may have recorded and written songs for his mates Gary Barlow and Bryan Adams and worked with Aretha Franklin and Celine Dion, and been an Artistic Director on The X Factor, but by God, his feet are firmly on Yorkshire ground.
Eliot is an incredible visionary. We knew we needed Yorkshire celebrities, so we began a charm offensive. Brian Blessed was the first to say yes, and Eliot convinced him to rap on the song. He wanted a soprano, so naturally we approached Lesley Garrett. But the real stars were the Yorkshire community at large. Gordon Eddison himself, Harrogate’s Rock Up and Sing, the Yorkshire Regiment, Bradford Council, they all played a part.
Eliot had just returned from recording music from around the Commonwealth with Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber for the Queen’s Jubilee song, ‘Sing’.
I remember Eliot telling us about recording Prince Harry playing the tambourine in Jamaica, then telling Rock Up and Sing he’d be recording their choir on the same mini-recording device that he took on his royal mission. What was even more exciting was when he tweeted the Ilkley song could even rival Sing.
The filming on the moor was a huge challenge.
We had to go through all the health and safety, hire St John’s Ambulance, find a PA system for the moor, sort out parking and coach-loads and of course, worry about the weather, and invite national media. It was a huge success, and featured on the BBC World Service that night, so we hope it has global as well as local appeal– for all the expats.
The song is definitely catchy. It features former Fame Academy singer, Alistair Griffin, with a Beatles-esque sound. It then breaks into Brian Blessed rapping before having your socks knocked off by the sounds of Lesley Garrett and Blessed’s voices soaring into a different stratosphere with a bombastic ending, bolstered by Rock Up and Sing.
Eliot explained at the time why he wanted to do the song: “It’s a beautiful song, it’s a gorgeous folk song – yes there’s funny and quirky bits with ducks eating worms, but it’s about courting Mary Jane, it’s actually incredibly romantic.
You can see we’ve been having a lot of fun. I’ve never laughed so much then when Brian was recording.
It’s a really great song, you can’t help sing along. It’s been in my head all the time since we started this project. I think this song will last for decades. It’s going to stand the test of time.
The new version also includes music from the Grimethorpe Colliery Band and X Factor singer and Yorkshire Regiment soldier Jonjo Kerr also features on the track. Money raised will go to the Heroes Children Fund charity and Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
The track will be available to download on Yorkshire Day (August 1) on iTunes and a video is available to watch on You Tube at www.youtube.com/user/welcometoyorkshire