“COLLAB Beyond” is a European solidarity project focused on culture, skills development, education and training, with the aim of bringing young people from different cultures and backgrounds to collaborate through music.
Through the project, young people from The Hut in Gurranabraher partnered with a school in Lebanon to write and record a song with help from The Kabin Studio, Garry McCarthy (GMC Beats) and Youth Work Ireland.
After numerous Zoom calls with youth in Lebanon, the song was officially completed this summer, showcasing the hard work and successful virtual collaboration.
Coordinator of The Kabin Studio, Garry McCarthy previously worked with young Palestinian rapper MC Abdul, whose videos received a lot of attention online.
After his work with MC Abdul, he helped develop the song and the overall Collab Beyond project.
Garry described the project as aiming to “build bridges and relationships between young people from different countries and cultures,” adding: “This is, I think, just the first step in a larger direction that we want to take.
“We would love to take some of our young people abroad and get them to collaborate creatively through music, through art from different backgrounds, cultures and countries.
He recalled the shocked expressions of some of the participants in Cork when they heard about the experiences of young people in Lebanon during their Zoom calls.
“It makes people think a little more globally, internationally, and I guess they have a little more understanding of people from different backgrounds,” he said.
Inspiration for the project came from Garry’s work with MC Abdul, who contacted him in 2019. Since then, MC Adbul has gone viral with his music video for his song Palestine which received millions of views earlier this summer. and caught the attention of celebrities. as DJ Khaled.
“Working with him we were really inspired by his determination and his ability that we realized that we can be creative with other people no matter where they are in the world, whatever the blockages, the borders. or obstacles, ”Garry said.
“There are a lot of things you can do online with just a Zoom call or WhatsApp. “
With this in mind, young people from Cork joined forces with students from Lycée Célestin Freinet in Lebanon and virtually created their own original song.
The song opens with a poem in Arabic, with a backing track by one of the youth in Lebanon, and includes lines rapped and sung by youth in both Cork and Lebanon.
Ghina Sabeh Aayoun, 19, was one of the participants in Lebanon and wrote a number of lines for the song.
The biology student described the collaborative project as “educational” and said she made many friends through its participation.
“The purpose of the project was to share our experiences and give a product that adequately expresses how we feel and what we feel about bigotry, and the product of that was the song with GMC Beats with all the wonderful people.” , said Ghina.
However, the situation in Lebanon meant that electricity and internet were sometimes cut for participants during their video calls, although this sparked conversations about life in Lebanon.
Speaking about the internet and electricity issues, Ghina said the situation during the song’s creation was “a little better than it is now”.
“We still had at least a little electricity to be able to count on the electricity which arrives for example between 6 p.m. and midnight to be able to make a call then, but otherwise, the Internet was not very reliable”, she said. declared.
“I think it shows how much we wanted to participate, and [how] we wanted to express ourselves, that despite all of this, we would pass our ideas on even via WhatsApp if we couldn’t make a call because it’s something we really wanted to talk about.
One aspect she noted in particular was the devastation caused by the explosion in the Lebanese capital in August of last year.
“When I went there I was helping people who volunteered in cleaning, it was a sight that I really hope no one can ever see in their life. I don’t wish anyone, not even my worst enemy, to see their city in ruins.
Having the opportunity to share their experiences with young people in Cork and their own thoughts and the topic of sectarianism was an important aspect for the participants in Lebanon, who according to Ghina enjoyed participating in the project.
“From talking to them while they were in songwriting classes, they were very excited, especially because sectarianism is not a subject that is properly dealt with in Lebanon… it is a taboo subject that no one does not want to talk.
“So giving these kids the opportunity to talk about it was new to them so they jumped at the chance, they were very excited and honestly it couldn’t have been as good as if we did not make him have such incredible collaborators [in Cork]. Ghina described the project as ‘an incredible opportunity’, providing the opportunity to speak to people from a different culture and country.
“And you still connect with them – so it was very nice for the people on our side. I think Ireland has come a long way and that is reflected in the ideas the young people we spoke to were able to pass on to us, so it really gave us hope for Lebanon.
In talking to these young people, the topic they wanted to talk about was bigotry, said youth host Joe Curtin, who helped organize the project in Cork.
During the collaboration there had been a lot of discussion about the Leaving Certificate exams and whether the formal exams would take place, which was a big concern for the young people participating in the project in Cork.
“While the Leaving Cert is important and it’s important to talk about it, it’s a small problem compared to what young people in Lebanon were going through,” Joe said.
Joe said the project was “an eye-opening experience” for the young people participating in Cork.
“I remember hearing about what was going on in Lebanon, it was really powerful when young people were talking and we were all a little bit shocked and we just really concluded by saying that we could be complaining about Covid, being stuck in inside, can’t get out of your 5k, but we have electricity and generally easy access to food and water, ”explained Joe.
“It put things in perspective. It was interesting, we had two sides of it; we also had the Lebanese groups, and then we also had the original guy from Palestine, MC Abdul.
“It was really an eye-opening experience for young Irish people to be involved.”
The song ‘In the End – Collab Beyond & Lebanon Youth is now available on Soundcloud.