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APACHE: BRUM GANGS SHOULD DECLARE A TRUCE TODAY.

Byline: ROZ LAWS Showbiz Writer roz.laws@sundaymercury.net

REGGAE star Apache Indian wants Birmingham's biggest gangs to agree a truce - and to declare it at today's Simmer Down festival in the city's Handsworth Park.

The 47-year-old singer, whose hits include Boom Shack-A-Lak and Arranged Marriage, hopes the Burger Bar Boys and Johnson Crew can bring deadly inner city violence to an end.

And he believes that the festival, staged annually to unite the community, is the ideal place to start bridging the divide.

"I want the festival to bring people together," explained the star whose real name is Steve Kapur, a former pupil of Handsworth Wood Boys' School, and who will share the stage with local heroes Steel Pulse and Musical Youth.

"I would love to get the two biggest gangs on stage at Simmer Down, to have a truce if only for one day.

"I'm working with police and gangs to lower crime. Everywhere I go, I talk about drugs, knives and guns, about peace and respect.

"Simmer Down can be a statement - let that day count, let people leave feeling inspired. It's about more than the music.

"I would love to head up a campaign to really improve Birmingham, bringing people together through music. We have to move forward together as a city."

It is not just talk from Steve, who is putting his money where his mouth is.

He has set up an academy called AIM - Apache Indian Music - at South and City College in Handsworth.

"I have a recording studio there and I help the kids to make music and help them with life skills," he said. "I give up one day a week - every Wednesday - to go in. I've made enough money to fund the academy myself. I haven't asked for any help.

"It's to inspire kids to do better in their lives. It's saying 'I care enough to care about you. Don't give up hope, we're here.'.

"There are a lot of cuts, to charities and education, so we have to stand up and do something.

"Many of the kids come from broken homes and come in hungry. I also work in prisons and with young offenders.

"I don't have the answers but I have a passion to do something."

Steve, who is celebrating 25 years in the music business, may spend most of his time performing abroad, but he has never moved away from Birmingham.

"Being on the same stage as Steel Pulse is amazing," he said. "I was in the crowd at Handsworth Park when they played there 30 years ago.

"They were one of my earliest inspirations. It made me so proud to know they were from Handsworth like me.

"Why haven't they got a star on Broad Street? We have got to celebrate them more."

Last year around 13,000 people flocked to Handsworth Park for the event. The stellar line-up this time is expected to attract many more.

"I've had seven top 30 hits, sold 10 million records and been nominated for an Ivor Novello Award and the Mercury Music Prize," said Steve.

"And it's all down to Birmingham. It's my home, it's given me everything I have, so my heart is in Birmingham."

| The Simmer Down festival kicks off at 12.30pm today, and admission is free. Other acts taking part include Aston Performing Arts Academy, Kezia Soul, Diego Flex, Rose Capri and The Superskas. For more information, ring 0121 333 2444 or visit www.the-drum.org.uk.

I would love to get the two biggest gangs (Burger Bar Boys and Johnson Crew) on stage at Simmer Down, to have a truce if only for one day

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| Apache Indian and (left) |reggae legends Steel Pulse ahead of the Simmer Down festival in Handsworth Park
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 20, 2014
Words:629
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