BY KATE DENNETT
A mother has released a song in tribute to her son on the second anniversary of his passing.
Crystal Palace lawyer Joanna Brown has ventured into songwriting and released her first song, Climbing the Clouds, in memory of her son, Alexander Paul.
Alexander began to venture into politics after Theresa May visited Clapham’s St Francis Xavier College to hear students’ views on stop and search.
He was then invited to tell his story at the House of Commons and made sure young black men’s views were heard about stop and search and knife crime.
But he was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and passed away shortly after, at the age of 21.
Joanna said Alexander left such an impact on his community and everyone that knew him, inspiring others to speak up for what they believe in.
He also encouraged his mother to follow her dream of songwriting, which is exactly what she has now decided to do.
Joanna said: “I have always wanted to be a songwriter and I have dabbled a little bit but never really done anything with it.
Just before my son collapsed – Alexander was one of those inspiring people – he bought me a songwriting book and said ‘look mum, achieve your goals’.”
The song encourages people to reach for their goals and achieve their dreams despite any obstacles that may stand in their way. It is an uplifting and emotional song that sums up Alexander’s bright and inspiring personality.
Joanna said: “It is an uplifting song as that is what he was about. In his pain, especially in the last two months of his life, he was a people magnet. Despite his own pain he was encouraging and uplifting people. He would walk in a room and it would just light up”.
Joanna now feels it is her mission to achieve the goals that he spoke about when he was ill. She released a posthumous book of his poetry and writing called Climbing Clouds, Catching Comets.
Alexander felt spoken word poetry was an important way for young men to get their emotions out and wrote about mental health issues in his verse.
His mum has teamed up with four other women poets who have written about mental health. She will share some of Alexander’s work in Waterstones in Clapham on July 25 alongside the other writers.
Joanna is now in the process of setting up a charity in memory of Alexander called the Alexander Paul Foundation. The charity will work with people aged eight to 25 to get them to express themselves through the creative arts.
She wants to ensure young people are making the most of the opportunities that they have. She now wants to focus on her songwriting and achieving her own goals, as her son would have wanted her to do.
Joanna said: “I have a few [more songs] in the pipeline. I wrote a more jazzy number, again inspired by my son, and I have written in the past when my father passed away. I wrote a tribute song to him which I am looking to release now.
“I also have a spiritual song based on my favourite psalm, psalm 27, that I am going to develop. I feel now that I have that confidence to do so. “I want to keep focusing on my songwriting – more songwriting than singing – and then maybe someone could pick them up and say ‘oh, that’s a nice song, I’d like to sing that’… that would just be an honour.”
She joked: “I watched the Eurovision song contest and the UK didn’t do very well – we never do very well. But I thought ‘maybe I could have a go at that and try to come up with something’. I just seem to have a new confidence now. “Out of a tragedy you can sit down and mope – which of course you do.
It is not easy losing a child and the first few months I was feeling sorry for myself and questioning myself – but then somehow you find that strength. I just remember the type of person that he was and he would have wanted me to use his skills.
“There is a niche for everybody and just because you are publicly educated it doesn’t mean you can’t be a politician, or an MP, or whatever your goal is.”