The World is Listening

New music premiere: Emma Ballantine – Secret Tunnel

Singer songwriter Emma Ballantine has a new track out today, and we’re excited to be the very first to share it with the world!

‘Secret Tunnel’ is part of a project called Somebody’s Story, the track is the first of four new songs that the London-based artist, originally from Salisbury, will be sharing between now and March 2017. The tracks are each based on a true story sent to Emma by her followers since she announced the idea just three months ago.

Today’s track, Secret Tunnel, tells Lisa’s story – a moving and inspiring story of a young girl’s determination to move on with her life after a harrowing experience. Please be warned that the story is a difficult read, and contains themes of sexual abuse. The track itself focuses on how Lisa was helped to escape her situation and seek out justice.

The new tracks have all been produced by Brixton-based producer MoseleyNoise (Luke Moseley) and reflect a departure from the traditional folk sound of Emma’s earlier EP, Tourist. Layered synths and beats combine with her usual storytelling style to create a more contemporary feel, and on this track at least, the acoustic guitar has been set aside. It remains to be seen how the new sound will translate in Emma’s live set when she tours the songs in the New Year.

Since being tipped by Glamour Magazine as ‘One to Watch in 2016′, Emma Ballantine has had a busy year, performing at a string of festivals including Glastonbury and reaching the final of the U.K. Unsigned Songwriter of the Year competition. She is due to announce a new string of dates for spring 2017 to mark the launch of the four tracks as a full EP and physical record.

To stay up to date with Emma’s plans (and to receive a free track) you can sign up to her mailing list or visit www.emmaballantine.com.

SECRET TUNNEL

Lisa’s story, told by Bill 

It’s February half-term in 1988 and starts on the Wednesday at 6:30pm, when my daughter, 16 at the time, is working part-time at the bus station tea bar. Also working there is 14 year old Lisa.

My daughter calls and asks me if I can collect her after work – there’s something she needs my help with. Lisa has told her a secret that is too big to keep… A secret she can’t tell her mother because it involves her father, and what he’s been doing to her for the past three years.

I have no idea what to do, but I know she has to escape before Monday, when school term starts again.

So my daughter and I come up with a plan. I arrange to borrow a friend’s van and my daughter tells Lisa that we’re going to rescue her and she’s not to tell anyone at all. On Sunday night, Lisa secretly packs a bag and all her school things.

We’ve arranged to be parking round the corner, waiting for her at 8:00am on Monday morning; which is after both parents have left for work and 20 minutes before she would normally leave for school. Nobody sees her.

It works perfectly, though in all honesty, I’m panicking, and have no idea what to do next!

When we get to my house, I call Social Services; they call the police and we all go to the police station. Lisa’s statement is so graphic and contains so much information that her father is arrested that afternoon and is remanded to prison.

Then the social worker asks me if I’m able to look after Lisa. They’ve contacted their register of emergency foster parents and it looks like the only other option is a children’s home. I never imagined that this is how things would work out, but I started this and I can’t back out now.

I was Lisa’s foster father for the next two years. Lisa was right. Her mother took her father’s side and accused her of lying. Her father’s extended family rallied round him and told the police that if they found who’d kidnapped Lisa, they’d deal with it themselves, making it clear they intended to track us down and attack me!

So for the hearing, the trial and the sentencing, we had to be given police protection. Our address was never disclosed and Lisa was helped to change her surname, so there was no obvious link back to us. Police also arranged for me to park in the police compound; they told me that there was a secret tunnel between the police station and the Crown Court.

The three minute walk through the tunnel to the trial was the scariest I’ve ever known. We’d been told there was a big crowd of his family waiting outside the court. A screen was put up between witnesses and spectators and Lisa and her father.

Her father pleaded “not guilty”, forcing Lisa to re-live and repeat all the details of her abuse. The trial lasted two days. The jury went out and returned only 50mins later, finding him “guilty” on all five sample charges.

Rescuing Lisa was probably the best thing I’ve ever done. And I’m not scared of ANYTHING now. Nothing will be as scary as those three minutes in an underground tunnel on the way to court with a crowd of angry people waiting to attack me for telling the truth.

And straight after the trial, with the support of her headmaster, Lisa told her story to a full school assembly. She could never be shamed, embarrassed, bullied or frightened. She wasn’t a victim any more. She’s a survivor!