A celebratory event, supported by Manningham Housing Association, Bradford Council, and The Leap, marked the launch of a collection of over 100 original songs from South Asian heritage, penned by writers from Bradford and Keighley.

The brainchild behind this project was Sadar Uddin, Community Partnership and Investment Manager at Manningham Housing Association. The aim was to resurrect, safeguard, and promote the Baul music tradition in Bradford, which is set to be the UK City of Culture in 2025.

The district is home to numerous Baul music writers, originating from Bangladesh and West Bengal. Unfortunately, much of their work has never seen the light of day. Thanks to financial support from the Bradford Council Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund, along with the Leap Pioneer Programme, Manningham Housing Association has published two volumes of lyrics in both English and Bengali, accompanied by sheet music for local communities to enjoy.

The launch event, held at Prestige Hall in Bradford, centred on ‘Baul & Mystic Songs of South Asian Heritage Volumes 1 & 2’. Many of the contributing writers were in attendance, and professional musicians performed a selection of their songs. A cake, crafted to resemble one of the books, was cut by Rupert Pometsey, Vice Chair of Manningham Housing Association.

The writers were honoured with certificates in recognition of their achievements by Ulfat Hussain, Deputy Chief Executive of Manningham Housing Association, who also authored the foreword for both volumes.

He said; “Among our pioneering initiatives, the Baul Heritage Project stands as a testament to our commitment to tenant and resident empowerment. As the first project of its kind by a social housing provider, this unique endeavour unites tenants and residents, fostering a collective of talented individuals eager to contribute to the broader community’s enrichment.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Bradford Council and The Leap for their generous support which enabled us to showcase the remarkable talents of our songwriters, poets and artists.

“We sincerely hope to see their exceptional work form a significant part of Bradford’s tenure as UK City of Culture 2025 where it can rightfully receive the recognition and appreciation it deserves.”

Sadar Uddin, Manningham Housing Association Community Partnership and Investment Manager, said; “Congratulations to all the writers and artists who contributed to this initiative.

“This is the first ever project where Baul heritage music has been translated into English and into musical scores so that anyone from any musical background can play these songs.

“We are keen to promote this music to as wide a community as possible – not just in Bradford and Keighley, but beyond Bradford district.”

Sabir Musaji, Community Development Manager at The Leap, said; “I want to thank Sadar and his team for stepping up. They have a wonderful mindset which makes projects like this happen.

“Most of all, I want to thank them for a project that demonstrates full inclusiveness.

“We have a piece of work which is beautiful and made for generations of musicians to perform today, tomorrow and for years to come.”