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"Tanya Blount and Sister Act 2 changed my life"

A Black male musician wearing a yellow beany hat plays keyboard on stage next to a Black woman vocalist, brightly illuminated by white and coloured lights.

This week saw the start of River Town; our summer series of roots and Americana music. And who better to kick off our two month-long programme than the gospel, Southern soul fusion group The War and Treaty on Mon 13 Jun?

In the depths of Thekla, the married duo of Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount took us to church with their high energy, soul-filled rock-n-roll – and the boat couldn’t stand still for a moment!

For some, The War and Treaty are a relatively new discovery – our Artistic Director Todd included. But for other members of our programming team, the connections to The War and Treaty, and in particular Tanya Blount who forms one half of this incendiary vocal duo, go way back and formed the start of a musical awakening.

Bristol Beacon Creative Producer Sophia Allison reflects on her discovery of Tanya Blount in Sister Act 2, and how it kindled her thirst for discovering artists and new music.

A musical awakening


Sophia: Sister Act 2 changed my life. I still revisit the soundtrack in my most vulnerable moments.

A story of youth, faith, power, and trust opened up the way I connect to artists. I think I was around 11 when I first watched it. I was at my cousin’s house after church – because it was Sabbath we could only watch films that had religious undertones and we’d rinsed Prince of Egypt. My cousin suggested Sister Act and had to convince me as this was before I respected cinema made before 2000.

I was sat on the sofa with my older cousin Emma and her best friend Emma, Uncle Richard was making his famous chicken soup and Aunty Verna her fried tuna and rice, my favourite meal. The comfort of dinner cooking on Sabbath afternoon made watching an old film bearable.

From the opening credits I was mesmerised. The soundtrack, the outfits, the plot, the cast, the voices. I haven’t fallen in love with a film that quickly since Shark Tale. I was captivated by the infectious joy of the high school students, so effortlessly cool and talented. I followed their struggles and insecurities; I saw myself in them as they tried to find their place in their community.

I felt love before I was old enough to comprehend romance. Sisterhood, safety and trust. Tanya Blount, Lauryn Hill and a Piano.

Sophia Allison

I had never heard of either of these singers but I was in awe as the harmonies in ‘His eye is on the Sparrow’ took me to a place I had never been.

‘who was that?’ I asked Emma and Emma.
‘Lauryn Hill’
‘which one the one with braids?’
‘you’ve never heard of Lauryn Hill?’
‘no, who’s the one with the short hair?’
‘I don’t know’.

It was my mission from that point onwards to find this powerful artist. The rest of the film was captivating, the finale was touching but a highlight for 11 year old me was the ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ outro with dancing kids and stylised school uniforms. It gave me time to finally put names to faces.

I found her. Tanya Blount. When I got home that night, I went on the computer to find the angelic voice that made my hair stand on end. The keyboard letters were probably worn down by the number of times I typed Sister Act 2 into YouTube.

I think this was the first time I looked for an artist. Not passively listening to songs that were playing but actively engaged with an artist’s discography, analysed their sound, tracked their journey. The film and the artists in it motivated me to search, to learn, to listen.

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