Next step: Prime Minister, says Hackney award winner

Jackman claims his award. Pic: Tanya Roche

Hackney may soon have another famous export to add to its list, as teenager Jermain Jackman won the Spirit of London Award for musical achievement at the O2 arena on Monday.

Jackman, 17, from the north of the borough, beat 4,000 hopefuls to reach the final and was presented with the prize in front of a star-studded crowd including Chase and Status, Stooshe and Hackney’s own Labrinth and Maverick Sabre.

Run by the Damilola Taylor Trust, a foundation set up in honour of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor, who was killed in 2000, SOLA aims to celebrate the achievements of young Londoners who are making positive changes in their communities.

Speaking to Eastlondonlines, Jackman expressed his gratitude for the award: “I am so humbled by this and thankful to my family who are always so supportive of me.

“Meeting the ambassadors for the project really inspired me and I hope that through the press coverage I’m getting I will inspire other young people to do something and have big ambitions.”

However, Monday’s triumph isn’t the first for Jackman. The teenager also won the international singing competition “Hackney vs Harlem” in July and subsequently performed at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York.

He also gives singing lessons and has organised several charity music events over the past year, including a tribute concert for Whitney Houston that raised money for drug and alcohol awareness, and a charity gig for sickle-cell disease.

Although an established member of Hackney’s music community, Jackman’s primary ambition is politics.

“We went to 10 Downing Street on the day of the awards. I didn’t get to meet David Cameron, but if I did, I’d say ‘watch your space, because I’ll be taking it soon’.

“I want to be Britain’s first black Prime Minister.”

An elected member of Hackney Labour youth team and a former member of Hackney Youth Parliament, Jackman hopes to encourage young people to both realise their musical potential and engage with politics.

He said: “There are so many talented people in Hackney, but they don’t know how to express themselves. They are faced with £9000 of debt if they go to University and not enough information about what they could do instead. This needs to change.

“I used to work with a group trying to get young guys out of gangs and into the studio, but in the end, most of them went back.

“It’s about role models. Idris Elba is great. He was born and raised in Hackney and is in Hollywood now. That’s what we need to see, someone who is away from films about gangs or anything related to them; someone who can raise the flag.

“It’s not a race thing, it’s a class thing. Young people need more positive role models.”

Jackman aims to build on this year’s success and hopes that through his achievements, he can be a role model to young people in Hackney.

“Music and politics are two sides to me and I want to keep reaching out to people as much as possible in both areas.”

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