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Durham singer-songwriter sweeps social media with City of Sanctuary

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

An article first posted by The Chronicle Live on 26 January 2018

A Durham singer-songwriter has swept across social media with more than 54,000 views.

Sam Slatcher’s song, City of Sanctuary, captures the history of Durham, from the exile of St Cuthbert in 875, through to the miners’ strike of 1984, to refugees who fled civil war in the Middle East to find home.

The unsigned singer posted the video online and it has reached more than 100,000 people and had more than 900 shares. The 27-year-old said: “I’m completely overwhelmed that the video for City of Sanctuary has been viewed so many times, provoking memories, nostalgia and love for the city.

“It is heartwarming when people are engaging with the song.

“There has been a mixed response from people who have left Durham and moved to Canada and New Zealand who have seen the video and it brings back memories of the city, and some people remember the city they grew up in.”

Sam recorded the song at White Wolf recording studio in Wheatley Hill and filmed the video using iMovie software on an iPhone. The title of the track comes from a national based refugee support organisation - City of Sanctuary - and grew out of Sam’s involvement in the Durham City of Sanctuary group.

The group aims to create a culture of welcome and inclusion in society. Sam, who moved to Durham in 2008 to study geography, was inspired to write the song after Brexit. He said:

“The song was originally written as a response to feelings of unease at the back end of Brexit and negative feeling around immigration.

“By showing that Durham has always had arrivals and refugees - from St Cuthbert to recent refugees - I hope it can inspire that all can find a home in these ancient streets.”

Now, the part time support worker hopes to become a full time singer. “I don’t ever see myself as an X Factor contender” he said. “My aim is to be able to use songs to be able to talk about social issues.”

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