By Weekend Editor Graham Chalmers
A star-studded new version of the classic song On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘At has been released today in time for Yorkshire Day.
Released by Welcome to Yorkshire to showcase the county worldwide, the idea to remake Yorkshire’s national anthem started with Cause UK, a Harrogate consultancy that supports the charities and arts sector.
Cause UK MD, Clair Challenor Chadwick, said: “It all started in the pub at the start of 2012, like many a great plot! An associate of Cause UK, Mark Dexter, was telling us about his friend Gordon Eddison a schoolteacher and brass band director. Gordon had complained to Mark only about 10 per cent of his students actually knew On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘At
Cause UK issued a press release with Mark to help raise awareness of the Otley brass band’s work. The story took off, appearing on The One Show, Radio 4 Today programme and The Telegraph.
Clair said: “We knew it had touched a nerve. So we mulled it over and came up with the idea of a video-song-remake to engage younger people that could go viral.
“We pitched the concept to Welcome to Yorkshire, and that was that.”
But they couldn’t have guessed that producing one song - and video - would mean an intensive six months of hard work.
Clair had contacted her friend, Eliot Kennedy, hit Sheffield songwriter artistic director on The X Factor, to see if he’d re-write the song.
“The thing about Eliot is he’s a man with a heart and soul as big as the county he was born and bred in: Yorkshire.
“He may have recorded and written songs for his mates Gary Barlow and Bryan Adams and worked with Aretha Franklin and Celine Dion but his feet are firmly on the ground.”
At the time, Eliot had just returned from recording music from around the Commonwealth with Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber for the Queen’s Jubilee song, Sing.
Eliot suggested the song would have a stronger chance of making the impact required if it included big name Yorkshire celebrities.
Clair said: “Brian Blessed was the first to say yes, and Eliot convinced him to rap on the song. He wanted a soprano, so naturally we approached Lesley Garrett.
“But the real stars were the Yorkshire community at large. Gordon Eddison himself, Harrogate’s Rock Up and Sing, the Yorkshire Regiment, Bradford Council, they all played a part.”
The new version of Yorkshire’s unofficial anthem features former Fame Academy singer, Alistair Griffin, with a Beatles-esque sound.
It then breaks into Brian Blessed rapping before having your socks knocked off by the sounds of Lesley Garrett and Blessed’s voices soaring into a different stratosphere with a bombastic ending, bolstered by Rock Up and Sing.
Eliot said : “It’s a beautiful song, it’s a gorgeous folk song. Yes there’s funny and quirky bits with ducks eating worms, but it’s about courting Mary Jane, it’s actually incredibly romantic.“We had a lot of fun making it. I’ve never laughed so much than when Brian was recording.”
Then came the filming. Where else to do it but on a Yorkshire moor, a huge challenge.
Clair said: “We had to go through all the health and safety, hire St John’s Ambulance, find a PA system for the moor, sort out parking and coach-loads and of course, worry about the weather, and invite national media.
“But it turned out to be a huge success and featured on the BBC World Service that night.”
The star-studded new version of On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘At is available to download from today, Thursday, Yorkshire Day on iTunes and a video is available to watch on You Tube at www.youtube.com/user/welcometoyorkshire.
Visit Cause UK’s website www.causeuk.com or befriend the Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Yorkshirevoices