Leith Samba band invited to play in New York Tartan Day Parade

For years they have brought their sizzling Samba rhythms to events around the Capital.

Tuesday, 16th July 2019, 7:43 pm
Members of Pulse of the Place.

Now a band of young drummers from Leith have their sights set on the Big Apple.

Pulse of the Place have been invited to perform their energetic Brazilian beats as part of the prestigious the New York Tartan Day Parade next year.

The 40 strong troupe, whose youngest member is eight, performed at the Paralympics and regularly play at events around the UK from the Mela Festival to Liverpool Samba Carnival.

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But taking part in the annual US celebration of Scots heritage as part of the World Fair Trade Tartan Clan would be the first ever performance abroad for the band – and the “trip of a lifetime” for the youngsters, say band leaders.

Rohan Seilman, project lead and development worker said: “These young people represent the best of what Scotland can be. They are welcoming, friendly and spirited. Some face very challenging issues. A few have autism and ADHD. A couple are looked after or struggle with family issues. One boy is severely bullied.”

“The Paralympics was incredible. New York would be an amazing opportunity, something that many of them wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise. This is not about going on a holiday. It would be an education, a chance to have an impact and really open their minds to what’s possible.”

Rohan’s daughter Arwen, 14, who is a volunteer youth leader in the band, hopes to be among the teachers supporting the kids on the trip. Arwen, a dancer, is now a Youth Ambassador for World Fair Trade Tartan in partnership through the band’s charity, Arts in the Afternoon.

Arwen is one of several volunteer teachers that has stayed on since joining the band when it started, back in 2006. Rohan said, “I’m so proud of her for showing the kids a path. The band really builds self-confidence.”

The charity is drumming up support to raise £50k to take 40 kids to New York next April. Sarah Kelly, a volunteer said, “I was 15 when I started in the band. I would have never thought we would be looking to go to America. I’m so proud.”

Tania Pramschufer, director of Hand Up Events, said, “Bringing these young people to New York will inspire and empower them, and other young people like them, when it comes to Fairtrade. This NYC trip will be incredible.”