The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field partners in international ‘Song for Kindness’ contest

By: Laura Taylor

When one thinks of Strawberry Field, John Lennon or The Beatles, it is music that comes to mind. For many that is what they also first associate with The Salvation Army. The team at the Strawberry Field Salvation Army center is therefore delighted to join a unique collaboration in the search for the next international ‘Song for Kindness’, alongside global charity, Liverpool City Council, The Cavern Club and Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.

The Liverpool Song for Kindness song contest aims to raise spirits during the dark days of the pandemic, while offering musicians an exciting opportunity to gain international exposure and with a fantastic prize for the winner. Following the example of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, released 50 years ago, the contest is searching for a song of hope and optimism.

Lennon fans will know that one of the first things that attracted the young John to the gardens at Strawberry Field in Liverpool, north-western England, was the opportunity to listen to a Salvation Army band playing at the home’s annual summer fête. Years later, John went on to co-write ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ with Paul McCartney, having been so inspired by the place close to his home that he called ‘paradise’.

Music has always been an important part of the life and work of The Salvation Army and its many centers and churches around the world. In the 1960s, John Lennon and the rest of The Beatles would leave the recording studios at Abbey Road shortly before a group of Salvation Army musicians, The Joystrings, arrived to record a session of their own. The trailblazing pop group was among the first to take the good news of the Christian message into the secular music charts and gave all its royalties to help people in need.

Lt. Colonel Peter Dalziel, one of the original members of The Joystrings, recalls the occasion of quite literally following in the footsteps of the Fab Four.

“The Beatles had left the Abbey Road studios the previous night and when we went into the same studio the following morning, we spent some time tidying things up! Although The Joystrings only existed for five years their influence is still being felt 57 years later,” he said. “In fact, Joy Webb’s song ‘A Starry Night,’ which The Joystrings took into the charts in 1964, remains a firm favorite with churches and schools around the world. It’s a great idea to launch a song competition and we look forward to seeing the results.”

The team at Strawberry Field, which welcomed the public beyond the famous red gates for the first time in summer 2019, is delighted to be involved as partners in this search. Today, the revitalized center reaches out to local young adults aged 18-25 with learning difficulties or other barriers to employment. The structured Steps to Work program comprises classroom-based life skills learning, specialized sector training and work experience, giving trainees the opportunity to develop their employability and prepare themselves to seek and enter paid employment.

“A lot has changed since The Joystrings’ heyday but music-making and, we hope, kindness are still at the heart of what we do and who we are as a Salvation Army,” said Major Kathy Versfeld, Mission Director of Strawberry Field. “I would therefore challenge gifted and inspirational singer/songwriters across the world to have a go. Enter the Liverpool Song for Kindness competition. Write a song birthed out of the heartache and hope you have experienced during this time of COVID-19, with words and music that will inspire and cause others to renew their faith in human kindness and the promise of better things to come.”

Any genre will be considered for entry to the Liverpool Song for Kindness competition, but the song must be an original piece of work submitted by the songwriter and performed by the songwriter or a nominated artist. To enter, songwriters and musicians can submit their track (video or audio) along with the song name, writer, performer, lyrics and where they are based via the competition’s online portal:

The closing date for entries is 31 July 2021. The top 50 entrants, as selected by the competition judges, will be announced on 14 August 2021. The overall competition winner will be unveiled on Oct. 9, 2021.

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