Monday, 2 February 2009

A new life for Boscombe musician

With a beaming smile and boundless energy, Theone Coleman has a zest for life like no other 23-year-old. And it's not surprising because the last two years have taught him some tough lessons.
Surrounded by his keyboard, mixing desk and speakers, Theone's Boscombe studio flat is a far cry from his last home – Leyhill Prison in Gloucester.
After being banged up for selling coke and pills he is now helping young people keep out of trouble with a project he set up with the Prince's Trust.
Only six months into the scheme, he has already won the charity's Young Achiever of the Year award for the region and is due to attend the national awards ceremony in London in March.
“It started off as an idea to teach young people music,” says Theone. “I know it sounds fluffy but music has always been a release for me and a way to express myself.
“I used to sell drugs to buy music equipment and now I provide music equipment for young people so they don't get tempted to do the things I did.”
The project, called Bourne 2 Stand Out, gives 16 to 25s the chance to get involved in music.
Not content with that, Theone has also set up a record label called Infinite Possibility Recordings, which already boasts more than 40 acts ranging from hip hop to funky house.
So with all this ambition how, at the age of 21, did he end up in prison?
“Possession with intent to supply class A – pills and coke,” explains Theone.
He shakes his head and throws his hands up in exasperation.
“What an idiot!”
When he was convicted Theone was sent to Dorchester Prison then spent time in Exeter, Guys Marsh in Shaftsbury and, finally, Leyhill, before being released.
“It was weird,” he continues, “when I first went in, there was this dude, Jamie. He was huge. I'll never forget him.
“We were sitting in the waiting room and you had to be twos-up in a cell and they started pairing people up and I was thinking, please don't pair me up with him.
“They even asked me, 'do you mind' and I thought, I'm not gonna complain, am I?
“So it was really scary going in but he was cool and he showed me the ropes and how to keep my head down, but prison's not a cool place, man.
“The realisation kicked in when I went to a D-category prison, which is an open prison. I met this dude called Pip. He asked me about what I'd done and how long I was in for but when I asked him the same question he said – I was in six years before you were born and I've still got 20 to do.
“I didn't wanna know what he'd done.”
Now he is free, Theone is focused on using his experience to help others and believes down-at-the-heel Boscombe is just the place to do it.
He said: “People are trying to boost up Boscombe – it's got that label on it now because there's a lot of drugs and violence. I think there's a lot of work to be done here and I want to be part of doing that and I think I can help.”
But Theone knows only too well about the problems in the neighbourhood. He is currently working on a track using material written by his friend, Luke Campbell, the Bournemouth University student who was stabbed to death in Cleveland Road in November.
“We did one track and were planning to get together and do some more stuff,” explained Theone.
“He'd done his own mix tape too which was really cool.
“I asked his mum if I could record some material on a Dictaphone and use some of the verses that he's done to do a track about knife awareness.
“Tupac said, 'why die when you can live forever in the hearts and souls of other people', so if I can do that then Luke's not gone anywhere because he's still here.”

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