However, with his formidable people skills, and his enthusiasm for and experience of working in community settings, Keiran continues to work with Global Grooves on all kinds of different projects, up and down the country. You may well bump into him yet!
A focus on the future
Living in Milton Keynes, Keiran had a major ambition: to move to London and study drum kit. From an early age, he knew he wanted to perform, gig and teach, and wanted to stretch and challenge his drum kit skills.
And, on arrival in London, his wide-eyed eagerness to soak up all things percussion led him to Kinetika Bloco, a performance group with an exuberant mix of young brass and woodwind players, drummers, steel pan and dynamic dancers designated an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation in 2018.
It was through Kinetika Bloco that Keiran discovered Global Grooves’ Future Leaders programme.
A Future Leader
‘I’d previously been told that learning Latin and Brazilian styles wasn’t something that you could just try; it’s like learning a new language, you have to throw yourself into it. And Kinetika Bloco and Future Leaders was the start of this process for me,’ he recalls.
His first Future Leaders weekend took place even before he’d performed with Kinetika for the first time.
‘Future Leaders opened up this really strange, really different world. It was so different to the pop music I’d grown up listening to and playing.’
The programme’s combined focus on the development of artistic and leadership skills really appealed to Keiran.
‘I always knew I wanted to be a leader of some sort. I’ve always been comfortable talking to large groups of people, and I’d always imagined teaching and leading a drum section,’ he says. ‘But Future Leaders has been huge for me. It’s massively broadened my knowledge – the first time I played dhol and djembe was at Future Leaders – and it’s been hugely fulfilling to play other styles and traditions.
‘You know, some musicians might wonder why you might take a weekend or a week out when you could be playing or practising, but it’s been so beneficial. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s helped me grow as a person, particularly when it comes to critical reflection. I used to have self-criticism, and now I’ve turned it into self-observation.’
Understanding different styles of leadership and exposure to other artists’ experience of life in the arts became especially enlightening.
‘I remember Johnny Kalsi speaking about something he struggled with, and the next week, the same thing happened to me!’
Growing and evolving
Following the completion of the Future Leaders programme in 2014 when he was 17, Keiran remained a regular participant in and facilitator for Global Grooves activity.
‘To be honest, it didn’t feel as though Future Leaders ever really ended!’ he says.
It was his connection to Global Grooves that introduced him to Sam Alexander, who became Keiran’s mentor. Immersion in the South London Samba scene, and frequent Samba Reggae and Maracatu gigs, soon followed.
‘What I love about Global Grooves is that, as an organisation, it doesn’t have an agenda or boxes to tick; you aren’t told “you will do this”. They’re always so accommodating; you can learn at your own pace.’
Keiran’s eagerness to share his experience and to facilitate led him to being welcomed back to subsequent Future Leader programmes and to take part in and facilitate the Active Citizens programme that Global Grooves delivers on behalf of the British Council.
‘I saw this as my chance to give back. Global Grooves’ greatest asset is its people and its connections. Its aim is to connect people, giving and sharing and making those connections, and that’s so admirable – so many organisations don’t do this, preferring to protect their own.
‘As a result, I don’t think I’ll ever stop working with Global Grooves. I’m very grateful to them.’