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BBC Music Memories: Bringing audiences together across the world through 50 iconic songs

The following news release is shared on behalf of
With a special thank you to IPA Board member Dr. Dawne Garrett.

BBC Music Memories and BBC World Service are launching an international journey through music as part of the BBC’s music and dementia initiative.

Rolled out on World Alzheimer’s Day, 21 September, the BBC World Service Music Memories project invites audiences around the world to join a global conversation to help trigger the memories of people living with dementia through 50 iconic tracks that have stood the test of time.

With the theme of music and memory at its heart, the BBC Music Memories website is a pivotal part of music and dementia at the BBC which began in 2018. Alongside the innovative website, which offers thousands of free music clips to stimulate memory, the initiative features powerful storytelling and collaboration based on an intergenerational approach to help change lives through music. In the UK, where the current number of 850,000 people with dementia is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040 (Source: Alzheimer's Society, 2019), music and dementia at the BBC now works collaboratively with more than 100 organisations, including Alzheimer’s Society, Care England and Age UK, to highlight the power of music for people living with dementia.

For World Alzheimer’s Day, BBC World Service is helping to expand the international music catalogue to create a rich database linking communities across the world through music. From Afghanistan to Argentina, from Sao Paulo to St Petersburg, the audiences of BBC News services – Afaan Oromo, the Afghan service in Pashto and Dari, Amharic, Arabic, Brasil, Gujarati, Hindi, Igbo, Indonesia, Kyrgyz, Mundo in Spanish, Marathi, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Urdu, and Yoruba - have been choosing, sharing and commenting on their iconic songs to build a playlist of 50 top songs from their countries. BBC journalists are having an impressive response from online audiences sharing personal and moving stories of memories linked to them. As part of the BBC World Service English output, the Fifth Floor programme will reflect the initiative in its Friday 25 September edition.

While the resulting play lists will enrich the BBC Music Memories website, users will be able to listen to many full tracks on the digital music services, Spotify and Apple Music, and move their list of favourites to a Spotify playlist.

Peter Rippon, Executive Editor, BBC Archive Editorial, comments: “The team of BBC Music Memories has been working on expanding its catalogue with international tracks. As BBC World Service stepped in to take this conversation on a truly worldwide, multilingual and multicultural journey, we hope that the resulting playlists will be a fascinating source of strength and inspiration.”

Rebecca Sandiford, BBC Music Commissioning Executive, adds: “For World Alzheimer’s Day, BBC teams are working together across the UK and throughout the world to bring communities and generations together through music, highlighting the pivotal role music plays in all our lives, and particularly for those living with dementia.”

In addition to the BBC World Service Music Memories, the theme of music, memory and dementia will span the BBC programming:

  • Make A Difference - BBC local radio will celebrate stories of kindness for people living with dementia alongside interviews with Angela Rippon, CBE, to discuss how BBC Music Memories can help families, friends and carers
  • BBC Memory Radio will launch 19 episodes from the 1960s, plus new episodes for the 1970s, 80s and 90s, reflecting the nations and regions. These are hour-long episodes from the radio archives, bringing music, news and stories, also designed for people with dementia and accompanied by downloadable activity sheets. Hosted by well-known local broadcasters and featuring archive material relevant to broadcast areas, the special episodes will air across BBC Local Radio on 21 September, and on BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru. The programmes will also be hosted on BBC Sounds and the BBC Music Memories website
  • BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru will feature a wide range of programmes exploring memory and music alongside inspiring stories relating to dementia
  • BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show is planning a special Big Thank You on Wednesday 23 September for care homes who have looked after people living with dementia throughout the pandemic
  • BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast will play listener requests which are associated with joyous memories from their lives; In Tune will feature stories from artists who connect through music with people living with dementia, and Music Planet will bring a global perspective to musical memories, connecting to the BBC World Service Music Memories initiative
  • BBC Sounds will feature special podcasts and programming across the week to raise awareness for World Alzheimer’s Day. Arlo Parks is curating a special World Music Mix reflecting the global influences that have shaped her work, linking to the BBC World Service Music Memories project. Arlo will also author 6 Musings on BBC 6 Music for Lauren Laverne’s show on Thursday 24 September
  • BBC Asian Network will investigate the experience of dementia for South Asian communities in Big Debate while Naughty Boy and Punjabi musician, PBN, have created special World Music Mixes. Group Chat will also explore the issues for Asian communities, with contributions from carers and experts
  • BBC One's Bargain Hunt music and dementia special will broadcast at 12.15 on Monday 21 September

According to Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI), the worldwide federation of Alzheimer associations, there are 50 million people living with dementia around the world. The number is forecast to more than triple by 2050 to 152 million. Someone develops dementia every three seconds.



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