Our choir is ever changing to reflect the make up of the people who come. It was felt it would be a good idea for new members and for others reading the website generally, to describe our beginnings and to remember how far we’ve come and how we have changed, so successfully, to reflect our choir membership.
The First Idea.
Our leader Janet Swan attended an interfaith meeting for women, at Burnley Faith Centre on 20th November 2012. This meeting was held under the auspices of Building Bridges Burnley and it was there that Janet suggested the idea of a new choir, based on interfaith principles. Almost all the people there whom she spoke to had never sung in a choir before but we were all eager to try when we learnt of the ‘learn by ear’ approach. Plans went ahead and, after Janet presented a submission, some funding was granted from Near Neighbours (Church Urban Fund) which allowed her to present initial sessions including an away day. Bea Foster is thanked for all her support at this time, in her Building Bridges Burnley role.
Singing Day at Coldwell.
The first meeting was held in March 2013 and was a full day at Coldwell Centre, on the moors above Burnley. We waited until March because several people who were interested went on an women’s interfaith pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Whilst there, they sang with a group of Palestinian women in Bethlehem, and as a result more potential choir members became interested. Initially the choir was called the Curious Choir to reflect the curiosity that many of us had about our voices, and that others in the group may have had about their faith or spirituality.
The Early Days
The first year proved to be exciting, with the media being very interested in the choir, and we appeared on Songs of Praise and on Radio Lancashire. We met weekly at the Faith Centre in Burnley and our singing just got better and better.
As a result of consulting with the members of our choir, it was decided to change our name to ‘Singing for the Soul’ in order to reflect the nature of the songs which we sing. Eventually, as our Muslim members found it increasingly difficult to commit themselves to singing in public, we dropped the label ‘interfaith’ . This doesn’t mean that we stopped being involved in interfaith work and we met up with Sacred Sounds Interfaith Choir in Manchester and recently sang with the Sufi Muslim Group at Padiham.
Janet has involved us in several fascinating projects over, the past twelve months. We joined up with other choirs and 70 of us sang at St James’ Church Accrington to commemorate the Christmas Truce in WW1. As part of the same “Truce” project (led by Mid Pennine Arts) we went on to sing at an Accrington Stanley football match.
We joined up with 300 singers in the Sing for Water project, attending extra training sessions at Accrington Library and eventually singing in Albert Square Manchester. We were instrumental in raising thousands of pounds and providing clean water for many families.
Here we are singing in Zulu in Manchester.
We meet each Tuesday now, in Brierfield library, having moved away from the Faith Centre last year. Janet records everything we learn and these are put on line and accessed through the website so we can practise everything at home. We keep in touch through a weekly email as well as on Facebook. We have all become such good friends too.
We go from strength to strength in terms of numbers with 20 regular members, also in terms of the quality of our singing. We all feel though that new members should be supported and feel free to explore their own voices, as we all continue to do.
There are many plans for this year 2016 including Sing for Water and working with women from around the world to share songs and music. We have already learnt songs from Wales, Pakistan, South Africa, Korea, Sweden, and Shetland to name just a few!
…….Watch this space