“The Forthlin Sessions” initiative launched

Tuesday, April 5, 2022
Timeline More from year 2022
20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool, UK

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The National Trust is a charity and membership organisation for heritage conservation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since November 1995, it owns the former home of Paul and Mike McCartney, at 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool, and decided to open its doors to aspiring musicians looking to perform at the historic house.

Entries for the Forthlin Sessions opened in April 2022, with applications reviewed by a selection panel which includes Mike McCartney. The winners were announced in May 2022.

On June 18, 2022, on the day of Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday, the performance of the winners at 20 Forthlin Road was broadcast live on YouTube.

From National Trust, April 5, 2022:

The National Trust today (5 April 2022) announces full details of its plans to open up 20 Forthlin Road, the childhood home of Sir Paul & Mike McCartney, to unsigned artists, with the aim of inspiring new generations of creativity.

‘The Forthlin Sessions’ will see unsigned music artists given the chance to visit, write, and perform at 20 Forthlin Road, sitting in the very same spots where around 30 of the world’s most famous songs, including ‘Love Me Do’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘Hold Me Tight’, ‘I’ll Follow The Sun’ and ‘When I’m 64’ were written and rehearsed. It is also where Paul wrote his first-ever song, ‘I Lost My Little Girl’. 

To choose the artists who will perform at ‘The Forthlin Sessions’, the National Trust will work with Mike McCartney and Pete Paphides and consult with the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA). The opportunity is open to any unsigned, UK-based music artist aged over 18. ‘The Forthlin Sessions’ will be recorded and publicised, offering vital opportunities for new musical talent to reach audiences. 

To celebrate a year of the Beatles’ anniversaries, including Sir Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday in June, and the 60th anniversary of the Beatles’ debut single ‘Love Me Do’ in October, the charity will be celebrating the creativity sparked from the rooms of 20 Forthlin Road (“the birthplace of the Beatles”), by supporting a new generation of talent and bringing a place rich in popular music history, to a wider audience. 

In addition, the British public will be asked to share what the creativity sparked at 20 Forthlin Road has meant to them, to help inspire the new music that will be created at ‘The Forthlin Sessions’ by the chosen artists.  This could be a memory, a favourite song or how music, photography and art gave them courage to follow a different path in life.

To find out more about 20 Forthlin Road, how to apply to play at ‘The Forthlin Sessions’ or how to share what the creativity sparked there has meant to you, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-forthlin-sessions or @nationaltrust #TheForthlinSessions.

Hilary McGrady, National Trust Director General, says: “What the Beatles did was inspire a generation to feel free to be creative, regardless of who or where they were. Much of that started at 20 Forthlin Road with the songs that were written under this roof. It’s a pleasure to care for the Beatles’ childhood homes and to use the story of what happened there to continue this legacy. Our places don’t have to be stuck in time; they’re here to keep sparking creativity, dreams, and new ideas. We can’t wait to hear how what happened at 20 Forthlin Road inspired and keeps on inspiring the nation.”

To kick off the search for the musicians who will play ‘The Forthlin Sessions’, a new poem – ‘An Ordinary House, An Ordinary Street’ – telling the story of the house has been released as a short film.

It features figures from the history of the house including Mike McCartney, the Quarry Men drummer Colin Hanton, Colin and Sylvia Hall, custodians of Mendips – John Lennon’s Liverpool home – and 20 Forthlin Road respectively. They appear alongside schoolboy Luca from the Wirral and a number of creatives from across the City of Liverpool, including former students of LIPA – the performing arts education institution – founded by Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Mark Featherstone-Witty in 1996, in Paul and Mike’s old school. 

Simon Osborne, National Trust manager for the charity’s Liverpool properties, says: “20 Forthlin Road’s story has some uncanny parallels with today – hope rising from grief and change from a time of crisis. What happened here has inspired many musicians and famous faces. Acts like Billie Eilish, Ed Sheeran, the Gallaghers, Paul Weller, Stormzy, comedian Harry Hill and TV host and actor James Corden have all talked about the impact of what came forth from Forthlin had on the creative industries and beyond. We want to tell the story of this ordinary house in an ordinary street, to continue to inspire new generations of creativity. Imagine the chance to write and play on the exact spot where ordinary lads from Liverpool changed the world.”

The McCartney family moved from Speke to 20 Forthlin Road, a post-war terraced council house, in 1955. Devastatingly, within a year Mary McCartney died, leaving husband Jim to raise 14-year-old Paul and 12-year-old Mike alone.

Jim brought music back to the house to help the boys through their grief, with first a trumpet, then a guitar and then drums that in Mike’s words “fell off the back of a lorry”. In 1957 Paul McCartney was introduced to John Lennon at the St Peter’s Church fete in Woolton, halfway between their two homes. The chums rehearsed and wrote at 20 Forthlin Road, writing lyrics to songs like ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ in school books on the front room floor. 

Mike drummed for the Quarry Men until an accident at scout camp put paid to his career on the sticks. The Quarry Men’s loss was history’s gain, with Mike turning to photography – taking the number 86 bus to Allerton library to learn the art – and documenting the rise of creativity that would change the world. The shots of the new poem film reflect many of Mike’s poignant and intimate images of that time at Forthlin Road.

Mike McCartney explains more: “It was just a normal family home. We were school kids. There was no music except that my dad would tickle – as he called it – the ivories after a hard day at work. At the beginning, there was no music other than dad and no photography. There wasn’t any thought of showbusiness, I can assure you.  

“After we lost our mum, dad was bringing up his two little boys who were growing bigger all the time, on £10 a week. We were poor. The idea of getting into photography or music was unthinkable for working class lads back then, but Dad saw how creativity could help us through our grief. Everything that was created here – the music, the photography – was created from love. I’m delighted our house and our family can inspire new generations to follow a path that might surprise people, and that it’s been part of so many lives, not just ours.”

From National Trust:

Perform your music at the birthplace of the Beatles

At 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool, four friends found their sound and became the Beatles. The music born in this house went on to shape a generation, creating a legacy of creativity and freedom of expression that still endures today. Now, it’s your turn to add to the legacy of 20 Forthlin Road. Apply to play in The Forthlin Sessions, and add your sound to the house that made the Beatles.

What are The Forthlin Sessions?

We’re looking for new artists to perform in a live music event at 20 Forthlin Road, the birthplace of the Beatles. Successful applicants will get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a song inspired by the Beatles’ legacy, and perform it in the McCartneys’ own front room. 

Entries will be reviewed by a selection panel including Sir Paul McCartney’s brother and fellow musician, Mike McCartney; independent Beatles expert Pete Paphides; and representatives from the National Trust. This exciting competition is based on an idea by musician and producer Alan Boyd.

On 17 May 2022, successful applicants will be given access to a wide range of memories, thoughts and stories about the Beatles supplied by the public via the social media campaign #TheForthlinSessions. From these, the artists will have the opportunity to create a new song to perform at 20 Forthlin Road on 17 June 2022. Applications close on 30 April 2022.

This performance will be broadcast free on YouTube and our social channels on 17 June 2022. Unfortunately, due to the size of the venue audiences will be remote only. Finally, the artists will receive mentoring from experts at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts for six months after this performance.  

How to apply for The Forthlin Sessions

To enter this competition please download and fill out the application form below, emailing it to us at beatles@nationaltrust.org.uk with the subject line ‘The Forthlin Sessions Entry’ by 30 April 2022. Successful applicants will be contacted no later than 17 May 2022. If successful, you will also need to sign and return the participation agreement.

You must be over 18 at the time of application, a UK resident and an unsigned artist. For further terms and conditions, please refer to the application form.

Let’s come together at 20 Forthlin Road to celebrate and continue the legacy of this ordinary, extraordinary house.

The winners of the Forthlin sessions were announced in May 2022.

From National Trust, May 17, 2022:

National Trust announces winners of the Forthlin sessions and asks for ‘Help!’ in inspiring new music to be written by the chosen acts in June

Today (17 May 2022), the National Trust announces the four unsigned music acts chosen for “The Forthlin Sessions”, a chance to visit, write and perform at the childhood home of Paul and Mike McCartney.

The house, which the charity now cares for, is known as “the birthplace of the Beatles”, as it is where around 30 of the iconic band’s songs were written and rehearsed, including Love Me Do, Please Please Me, I Saw Her Standing There and When I’m 64.

The National Trust is now asking the nation to also help inspire the new music that will be written by singer-songwriter artist Serena Ittoo from Enfield, contemporary folk duo Humm from Bath, singer-songwriter Emily Theodora from Richmond and songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Dullan from Wrexham. The charity is calling on the public to share stories of what the music and creativity sparked at the house over 60 years ago has meant to them using #TheForthlinSessions. This could be a memory, a favourite song or how music, photography and art gave them courage to follow a different path in life. Contributions will be shared with the four unsigned music acts as further inspiration, following their visit to the house today.

Radio, TV presenter and writer Annie Nightingale CBE has kindly shared what the music that came forth from Forthlin Road means to her.  Annie says: “We all have had dreams and hopes and optimism. Paul with John, George and Ringo lit the fuse. Made us all realise that we too, from our plain, functional modest homes (like theirs) could leap into a bright, exciting future, and become whatever we wanted to be. I have spent all my life trying to say thank you to the Beatles, who made succeeding generations believe that, yes, you can achieve your dreams. There were no trappings, no luxury in the young McCartneys’ home, in Forthlin Road. But there was music, and inspiration. They were saying…if we can make our dreams come true … so can you.”

Mike McCartney, says: “It’s wonderful that the two-up, two-down we grew up in is hosting a new generation of musicians, over sixty years on.  From an ordinary house in an ordinary street, amazing things happened because of being given the opportunity to express ourselves creatively and we’re passing that on today. I’m looking forward to seeing how the story of Forthlin, and what the public shares, sparks new music from these four acts, and more widely. We want our little house to keep inspiring people for generations to come.”

A new survey commissioned to coincide with the announcement – and the call for the public to share memories – reveals one in three Brits¹ say the Beatles’ songs have influenced their lives, or their families’ lives. Around 5%¹  of Brits have been inspired to play a musical instrument¹ as a result too. 

The research also highlighted that a Beatles song has played a part in a key life event – such as the birth of a child, a first dance, a first kiss or walking down the aisle –  for more than one in ten Brits (12%). And the impact of the band’s music has even been seen in our names – with nearly 1 in 5 people (19%) knowing someone named after one of the band or their songs: “Paul” being the most popular moptop-related moniker. 

The National Trust’s Celia Richardson, was part of the judging panel for “The Forthlin Sessions” alongside music writer, DJ and founder of Needle Mythology Records Pete Paphides. She says, “We know from talking to people who visit 20 Forthlin Road that the music sparked there has had a massive impact on peoples’ lives over the years.  We want the stories of the places we care for to keep inspiring creativity among new generations and we can’t wait to see this next chapter in the Forthlin Road story.”

“The Forthlin Sessions” will be played on 17th June and broadcast via the internet. To find out more, please visit nationaltrust.org.uk/the-forthlin-sessions

From Press release | Media | National Trust – The winners outside 20 Forthlin Road | © Fabio De Paola-PA Wire

On June 18, 2022, on the day of Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday, the performance of the winners at 20 Forthlin Road was broadcast live on YouTube.

From YouTube, June 18, 2022:

National Trust presents: The Forthlin Sessions, bringing music back to the birthplace of the Beatles

Four new artists perform their songs inspired by the music of the Beatles at 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool – the house where Sir Paul McCartney grew up and helped form the Beatles. In this video, you can watch performances from Serena Ittoo, HUMM, Emily Theodora and Dullan. These performers have all written songs inspired by the legacy of the Beatles.

The final performance is from former Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts students Jan Holberg and his band, who were given special permission from Sir Paul McCartney to perform a cover of his song ‘ My Valentine ‘.

The performances took place in the front room and Paul McCartney’ s childhood bedroom. […]


Last updated on December 22, 2023


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