Single evokes lockdown 'fairytale' camp on Hampstead Heath
- Credit: Roman Vester
In the first lockdown, desperate for connection, Ilana Lorraine took her speaker to Hampstead Heath and began to sing.
The sound drew passers by, a slackwire and hula hoop artist joined in, and within days there was a small encampment by the boating lake offering performances, yoga, sound healing, vision workshops and meditation during those anxious times.
Beatles biographer Hunter Davies felt it recalled the hippy spirit of the 60s and wrote about it in his book My Year On Hampstead Heath.
"That first day I met Freya, we decided to connect and it became a community overnight," says Lorraine who has released a single which captures the flavour of those three hot summer months.
"We realised people needed fun and connection in a safe way. We called it the Fairytale and the community became known as the Tribe of Light and created this incredible experience for people of all ages. Hunter brought out the hippy element, it reminded him of the 60s bringing people together."
Co written with Raz Daveed and produced by Guy Jackson, Reason Why was penned some years ago at the Secret Garden Party festival.
"I stumbled on a piano in a field and wrote a very personal song about my ex-husband that I wasn't ready to release. But lockdown brought a passion, almost a mission, to use my music to empower people.
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"Just when everything was slowed, down, locked away, closed and silent I felt the urge to help bring a bit of light and love and music to people - in a safe way."
On that first outing, Lorraine sat next to her speaker and sang words "about empowerment and hope".
"That spot by the pond was always been a healing place for me," she explains. "Lockdown was a crazy time, feeling lonely and wishing I could connect. My music brought me comfort and carried people from over the hill. Passers by came up crying wanting to hug me and say 'thank you'. One said the loneliness had caused her mental health to deteriorate. We ended up doing it every day and it grew as people got more confident. We put blankets two metres apart and hula hoops for people to try. We decorated the trees, brought a giant mattress and a telescope."
Lorraine, whose job was on hold during the pandemic, sometimes slept out on the Heath, or organised a rota so there was someone there from early morning. They also befriended the Heath constabulary: "They didn't want gatherings but we spoke to them and they turned a blind eye for a long time. The people living in Millfield Lane would put out deckchairs if we did a performance so there were no complaints, and we were very conscious to pick up rubbish and leave no trace.
"One time they came looking for reports of an illegal rave, by chance we were doing a silent meditation and the only sound you could hear were healing chimes."
As The Fairytale grew, the constabulary had to shut it down. But the community continued, with a Whatsapp group and a post pandemic cabaret at WAC Arts in Hampstead Town Hall. Now Lorraine, who has lived for years around Hampstead and East Finchley, is planning a Fairytale Album - and with her background running live music nights - hopes to empower others to impact the world through music and live performance.
"It's combining putting out my music with elevating others, it's always about community."
Now in Israel visiting family, she has a new idea and is hoping to secure funding and the backing of Heath managers.
"They have these amazing concrete pianos on the streets in Jerusalem. They are electric and they can turn them off at unsociable hours. It's amazing to see people, old, young, Jews, Arabs standing around them singing together.
"I'm on a mission to keep music alive in nature."
Listen to Reason Why on Spotify or Bandcamp. Visit ilanalorraine.bandcamp.com/track/reason-why