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Rapper’s anthem is Testament to Leeds’ diversity commitment


Leeds has marked the launch of a series of events and activity focused on diversity with the release of rapper Testament’s D-List Anthem.

The anthem is written and performed by MC, poet, writer, theatre maker and world-record-breaking human beatboxer Testament, described as “a gritty tune celebrating the incredible stories and successes of regional entrepreneurs who are at the top of their game but often overlooked and underrepresented.”

Testament: The D-List Anthem

Supported by a grant from Leeds City Council’s Innovation@Leeds programme, the D-List seeks to change the status quo, making non-diverse spaces, events, conferences, and workplaces a thing of the past.

Founded by Mel Ellyard, the platform has over 150 searchable profiles of exceptional entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds of race, colour, sexual orientation, ability and disability, and age.

Delving into the background to The D-List, Ellyard said: “Include Me, an open community platform, was founded in Leeds in 2020. Driven by lived experience and amplified by the challenges and isolation of diverse founders building and scaling their businesses. Through working with communities and organisations wanting to make a difference, we came up with the concept of D-List [the Diversity List], to give a voice to incredible innovators, representing a variety of backgrounds, sectors, emerging technologies, ethnicity, and abilities. The List was received well and continues to grow each week.”

The team are planning several other events between March and May, including a competition where local graphic designers will be invited to design non-fungible tokens telling the stories of D-Listers for auction at Climb23, an outreach programme to Leeds-based schools and education institutions giving young people the opportunity to talk to inspirational D-Listers in an authentic way.

The D-List is one of a dozen collaboration-friendly initiatives recently chosen to receive grant support from the Innovation@Leeds programme, which aims to ensure people across the city have the means to realise their business ambitions. The initiatives are all designed to give grassroots entrepreneurs access to the kind of know-how, training and networking opportunities that can improve their personal investability, while also strengthening Leeds’s reputation as a place with a thriving innovation ecosystem.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “We want Leeds to be a centre for the kind of innovative business activity which makes a real difference to people’s lives by driving inclusive growth, promoting collaboration and tackling inequalities. These Innovation@Leeds grants – and other strategic investments by the council in Leeds’s innovation ecosystem – have an important role to play in fostering that culture of bold thinking and opportunity for all.”

Ellyard added: “The platform becomes more and more impactful as new D-Listers join. Help us ensure it is fully representative and that non-diverse spaces and events are a think of the past. Please share the anthem, celebrate diversity, and join yourself, or put someone forward, for the D-List today. It’s free, easy, and open to all.”

Testament is a London-born rapper, author and beatboxer who grew up in Manchester. He is currently based in West Yorkshire and has written for the screen for Netflix, BBC and Channel 4, and for the stage for Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre and Leeds Playhouse. He won the BBC Urban Music Talent Award in 2007 and holds the Guinness World Record for leading the world’s largest Human Beatbox ensemble.

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