George The Poet launches virtual community platform, Common Ground

Chapter 3 of ‘Have You Heard George’s Podcast?’ aired its final episode on the 16th September on BBC Sounds, Radio 4 and Radio 1Xtra. It remains available to stream or download on the BBC Sounds website and wherever you listen to podcasts.

This chapter introduced a new, innovative platform for George’s global community of listeners to share their responses to Chapter 3, extend the experience of the podcast and find common ground. The COMMON GROUND experience begins as a conversation with George, and once listeners are onboarded, then the platform presents a few questions about each episode in the podcast and facilitates written, audio, image and video-based discussions between George and his listeners.

COMMON GROUND also showcases original artworks by black artists around the world and creates opportunities for listeners to reflect more deeply on each episode, give George their feedback, and share ideas with fellow listeners in a community space called ‘The Commons’. Contrary to social media platforms, COMMON GROUND does not focus on ‘likes’, instant replies and addictive dopamine hits, but instead encourages users to click a ‘lightbulb’ on fellow users’ responses if the post opened their mind and made them think about an issue a little differently.

With more than a thousand sign ups already from nearly 50 countries around the world, the platform brings together diverse points of view and relays listeners’ answers back to fellow users, illustrating that there is a COMMON GROUND where people’s ideas can meet. The driving force of the discussion is George’s exploration of Black music, as users join him on his train of thought.

I have an idea. For years I have written poems about the highs and lows of Black life, and for years the driving force behind this poetry has been Black music. In this chapter, I look at the unifying power of this music, and how it has transformed the world.

These episodes walk you through historic injustices that sparked Black music movements, which created fresh opportunities – over and over again. This process has always seemed random. Jazz in America. Reggae in Jamaica. Grime in Britain. But it’s clearly not random. What if the world anticipated this genius? What if 150 years of musical innovations in the harshest circumstances have proven Black music to be a safe bet? What if the listeners supporting this music were able to tackle the problems behind it? Could this be the future of

To test this idea out, I have created an interactive platform – called COMMON GROUND. This online discussion space allows listeners to dive into the world behind the words alongside original artworks by global artists.

George The Poet

This 3rd chapter of ‘Have You Heard George’s Podcast?’ weaves the yarn of Black music through history, culture, market economics and social impact. In episode 23 ‘Back To UG’, George shares his views on Ugandan politics and tells the story of how a romance blossomed with his long-time friend and now Operations Manager and wife, Mrs. Sandra Mpanga.

This episode also dives into the politics of Uganda, reflecting on the internet blackout experienced during Uganda’s 2021 election and the rise of Bobi Wine as he grew from music into politics. Chapter 3 also tells the story Uganda’s independence movement in Episode 24 ‘The Sixties’ alongside the American civil rights movement of the same era. Other episodes in this chapter share the chronicles of JayZ’s youth, an epic beef between Movado and Vybz Kartel, and how R&B has changed over the years, among other ‘edutaining’ stories that demonstrate the influence and market potential of Black music.

George the Poet is a London-born spoken word performer of Ugandan heritage. His innovative brand of musical poetry has won him critical acclaim both as a recording artist and social commentator and seen his work broadcast to billions of people worldwide.

In the summer of 2018, he opened the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with his poem ‘The Beauty of Union’, and in 2019, his audio offering ‘Have You Heard George’s Podcast?’ won a prestigious Peabody Award and 5 Gold British Podcast Awards, including the highly-coveted Podcast of the Year. The podcast was described by BBC R4 as “a story that could change the world”. George has just launched chapter 3 of the podcast and is now embarking on a PhD.

COMMON GROUND is an experiment. As well as displaying some of your answers in ‘The Commons’, founders George Mpanga, Paul ‘Benbrick’ Carter, Anne Whitehead and Darshan Sangharajka are working hard behind the scenes to analyse the data and bring in artists, friends, and thinkers to illustrate that we can find COMMON GROUND between the way people think; this can be the beginning of a new way to address the social issues George talks about in the podcast – together.

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