School of Rock
St. Vincent’s is a specialist school, serving students with sensory impairment and other unique needs. Nathan has made it a priority to visit St. Vincent’s School every time he’s in the UK, to spend time with students and staff. During a visit in December 2018 the idea for the School of Rock began forming in Nathan’s mind. He wanted to build on the outstanding work Jenny had already done and help to move her students to the next level. He wanted to help them build their own show, to share their extraordinary gifts.
“HE BELIEVED THIS WOULD BE A GREAT PLACE FOR THE STUDENTS TO SHARE THEIR MUSIC.”
During the second leg of the Vagabond tour, Nathan made multiple visits to St. Vincent’s to work with Jenny and her students, preparing them for an EOE School of Rock performance at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
Alder Hey is one of Europe’s biggest and busiest hospitals. Nathan had the opportunity to spend time there and perform for some of the children, doctors and staff last year. He believed this would be a great place for the students to share their music.
At the initial rehearsal the students were very apprehensive about their ability to perform on their own. At the end of each rehearsal, Nathan challenged each student to provide a positive takeaway and something they could improve upon. The kids gave honest, constructive answers and accepted feedback both from Nathan and from each other. Each day they were gaining more confidence and honing their skills. By the end of their final rehearsal, the EOE School of Rock, made up of one boy and six girls, had a name for their band: J-Boss and the Sensational 6.
It was now time for a full dress-rehearsal in front of the St. Vincent’s student body, teaching staff and other assorted guests. They opened with “Let It Be”, followed by “This Is Me” and “Hallelujah”. The emotion their performance evoked from those in attendance was amazing. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Clearly these kids have a knack for choosing songs. Next up was “Alder Hey”, an upbeat tune written by J-Boss about his admiration for Alder Hey Children’s hospital. The dress rehearsal closed with an encore of “Let It Be”, this time with a lot of audience participation. As soon as they finished, there was an explosion of enthusiastic applause. Success!
The Alder Hey Hospital concert was the following day. Finally, it was time for J-Boss and the Sensational 6 to take center stage at their own show. Gone were the timid kids from that first rehearsal. Without missing a beat, they launched into their set. When J-Boss performed his own composition, “Alder Hey”, it brought the house down. One employee even said, “I think we’ve found our theme song”. The performance concluded with Nathan joining the band to sing an EOE song, “Lost Transmission”. Once again, the audience reaction was incredible. J-Boss and the Sensational 6 were a smash hit. ITV News, an English television program, was on site to cover the story, which was broadcast not just within Liverpool but throughout the entire northwest region of England. It was a perfect end to an incredible experience for everyone involved.
This initial experience has opened the door to share the gift of music internationally and you’ll be hearing a lot more about this in the coming months. Nathan summed it up best when he said, “The significance of the EOE School Of Rock for these kids is ground breaking, because we’re utilizing the gift of music not to show off how talented they are but to teach each of them that they have the special gift of music within to give back to those in need. After all, music truly is meant to be medicine for the soul.” To hear a few additional insights from Nathan, please listen to this wonderful interview conducted by two young St. Vincent’s students who also happen to be aspiring journalists.
The impact of Nathan West and the East of Eli Angels in collaboration with St Vincent's Choir.