“Music is a great blessing. It has the power to elevate and liberate us; it sets people free to dream.
It can unite us, to sing with one voice. Such is the value of music.”
– Nelson Mandela.
These words, uttered as an aside when The Corrs performed in South Africa for Nelson Mandela, resonated so much with Spokes supremo John Hughes that he obtained Mandela’s permission to record them as the prologue to an original instrumental soundscape based loosely on Nelson Mandela’s life and struggle.
‘The Mandela Suite’, a new work by John Hughes, was recorded in Dublin and South Africa. It starts with Nelson Mandela reading his own words, and expands into a sweeping, majestic, moving tableau of sound using a full orchestra, Uilleann pipes and modern rock instrumentation to create a unique musical rendition of the most uplifting and inspirational story of our times.
A companion piece is an accompanying documentary showing the meeting of Hughes and Mandela, the recording sessions, and a visit to Mandela’s actual prison cell on Robben Island.
A Record Company History
Spokes is a new entertainment company set up by John Hughes, manager of The Corrs and previously Musical Director of The Commitments.
In fact John fell into management, having discovered the Corrs’ talent in auditions for The Commitments, but prior to that he had always been a musician: his band Minor Detail had the distinction of being the first Irish band to sign to a US record label (PolyGram, now Universal), and Jim Corr had joined one of his later groups.
John’s composition ‘I’ll Always Love You’ is still a staple of Irish covers bands, and it was this long musical history that led to Oscar-winning director Alan Parker appointing him as Musical Director when The Commitments began auditioning Irish musicians.
After the meteoric success of The Corrs’ first album ‘Forgiven, Not Forgotten’, there was a short time while they were composing for their second album, and John took the time to revisit his own compositional ideas. The first musical sketches for an instrumental pop/rock album were laid down, and the positive reaction to them led to the creation of John’s solo album ‘Wild Ocean’.
While looking for a singer to contribute some melodies and lyrics, John was introduced to Tara Blaise, who had recently left well-regarded Irish band KayDee, and Spokes was born.
Based in Dublin and London, Spokes has evolved from its Celtic base to encompass a broad range of material ranging from ambient electronica to pure pop. Contributors to ‘Wild Ocean’ include talents as diverse as The Chieftains, The Corrs, and Finbar Furey, but Spokes’ broad remit now includes singer-songwriters (Tara Blaise), ambient trance music (Mark Edwards), pure pop (The Brilliant Things), Indie (Marie Jr.), and even the Cistercian Monks Of Roscrea, whose first album of chants went Gold in Ireland.
The newest project on the Spokes horizon is ‘The Mandela Suite’ another John Hughes audio soundscape, inspired by a quote from Nelson Mandela himself at a meeting in South Africa. John travelled back to South Africa and recorded Mr. Mandela reciting the quote at the start of the piece, which is broadly based on Mandela’s life. It is accompanied by an documentary, filmed in Dublin and South Africa, showing the John Hughes / Nelson Mandela meeting, but also the recording sessions and a visit to Mandela’s actual prison cell on Robben Island.
Backed by a creative support team of songwriters, singers, producers, designers and directors, Spokes is committed to its trademark of quality in an uncertain age, encompassing all media in the pursuit of excellence.