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Piano in the dark

Denis Fernando combines music with political activism

Malcolm X is credited with inspiring the debut single by an anti-racist activist and musician.

Campaigner Denis Fernando, from the band Red Cable Sunday, launched his debut track called ‘Prelude to the Nocturne’ yesterday, which aims to flip notions of dark and light.

The video features Fernando playing the piece on a piano in a variety of outdoor locations across London, including the City, outside the Natural History museum in South Kensington, and Carnaby Street. The track is available for download on iTunes.

Fernando, who hails from a musical family and began playing instruments aged six, explained that ‘Prelude to the Nocturne’ was composed with the words of Malcolm X in mind.

He said: “When bands talk about their music being ‘darker’ they usually mean bleaker, miserable and negative.  As a black person, I have had to challenge that idea all my life – the most beautiful part of this song is its ‘darkest’ part – a reminder that for some of us darkness has been, is and always will be beautiful.

“The dark part more beautiful part. When people say darkness think of the negative, but I hope the dark part of this song is what people like the most.”

Fernando, who has been a key figure in the campaign group National Assembly Against Racism for a number of years, was formerly the NUS black student officer.

Red Cable Sunday takes its name from Cable Street, an area made famous when east Londoners stood firm against Oswald Mosley’s Nazi blackshirts. Fernando said: “It means a lot to me as it shows that the evil of fascism can be defeated by ordinary people.

“It is especially relevant as it was the joint effort of the Jewish, Irish and trade union activists that stopped them. Today we have the fascist BNP are making gains in East London and across the country , attacking vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers and demonising Muslims.

“We’ve seen where this leads before when Hitler scapegoated the Jewish people… we need the spirit of unity and activism against fascism that brought people together on Cable street to stop them in their tracks today.”

Fernando said his musical pieces were intensely personal music with wider political inspiration – drawing themes and ideologies from the likes of Malcolm X, Muhammed Ali, Hugo Chavez, and Fidel Castro.

Fernando credits his father as his main inspiration. Herbert Fernando, who was born in Sri Lanka, was a drummer in the 1960s band Family Affair.

By Lester Holloway

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