Wednesday 21 March 2018

James Bay calls on schools to smash stigma of HIV

James Bay played music at London HIV charity Body & Soul
James Bay played music at London HIV charity Body & Soul

James Bay has called for better sex education in schools to tackle the stigma of HIV in the UK, after visiting a charity supported by Sport Relief.

His track Running has been selected as this year's Sport Relief official single and Bay spent a "fascinating, heavy but inspiring" afternoon meeting and playing music with adults at Body & Soul, a HIV charity in London.

Bay, 25, said it was "frustrating to know kids my age grow up with other kids who laugh about (HIV), flinch about it".

"That taught me a lot about the state of sex education and how that needs to improve and be broadened in terms of what's taught and the different areas of sex education," he said.

"I don't care how British and stiff upper lip people want to be about it in the past, we need to be a lot more open about it because it feels like it's the biggest and only reason why these ridiculous stigmas about HIV positive people still exist.

"We can't be defeatist about change: it's possible, it's happening. Body & Soul are helping that, Sport Relief is helping that."

Bay has recorded a live version of Running - which was originally featured on his number one album Chaos and the Calm - at the world famous Abbey Road Studios to raise money for Sport Relief.

He said the call asking him to follow in the footsteps of Sir Elton John, JLS and Little Mix came as complete surprise - and more pleasant than the thought of tackling a feat like Greg James's five triathlons in five days.

"It's quite a call to receive. When I got it I thought, 'Great! Charity football match, I love playing football!' and then it turns out they wanted to use my music. It's been an honour," he said.

He is recording a special performance for Sport Relief Night on March 18 on BBC One, but ruled out Justin Bieber returning the favour when Bay stepped in to play guitar for him at the Brits.

"I think he's quite busy on a world tour! It was great to collaborate with Bieber and if the opportunity came up again I wouldn't rule anything out, but he's a busy guy and I'm a busy guy," he said.

Bay said his year has been "surreal" with a Brits win for best male solo artist, three Grammy nominations and his debut album going double platinum, and he cannot wait to return to the studio for album number two.

"I can't deny my hunger to make new music. The next six months are filled with touring still but after that I'm looking forward to pressing pause on the live side of things, hiding away for a moment and cooking up new music."

Running is available to purchase now.

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