Why we are singing for World Aids Day

JezzaFriday 1st December marks World Aids Day, and  The Pink Singers are singing to raise money for the National Aids Trust. Our thoughtful Communities Rep Jezza writes about his awareness of Aids –  both close to home and in Africa and other developing nations, where it is sadly so prevalent today:

(For information about the concert see here.)

As a creative freelancer, I have spent many years delivering drama workshops around the issue of sexual health. Whilst not medically qualified myself, it is good for me to know as much as I can about the state of HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment in the UK, since you never know what questions they might ask! Since 2002, when I started teaching, we have seen so many enormous changes. Recent groups of teenagers I have worked with have been surprised to hear the sort of things I told them about HIV and AIDS back at the turn of the century, let alone hearing about what happened when I was a child in the 1980s.

So many amazing and life-changing discoveries have been made since then. We live in an age where some people are celebrating a decade of the virus being undetectable in their bloodstream, and joyfully expecting to live to a good old age. These are joyful changes, but of course, even in this country, some people still struggle to receive the kind of help that makes this kind of life and future possible. For those in other countries, the story can be even bleaker.

Some of the pupils say to me ‘Oh, you just take one pill a day and that’s it…who cares?’. Whilst they have a point (to a certain extent) I still don’t think it’s that simple, and certainly it shouldn’t be seen as something that is no longer worth thinking about. Yes, some people remark at how little their HIV positive status impacts upon their life, and that’s wonderful, but many more feel its effects keenly every day. This does not necessarily stop them thriving, but the fight against HIV and AIDS is far from over. Sadly, many people still struggle to thrive at all, and that is still profoundly wrong.


I was born in 1982, and as such, mostly ‘missed’ the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. My forebears were not so lucky. Many remember all too well the pain and horror of losing so many beloved friends. Some members of the Pink Singers have been generous enough to open up to me about that time, and tell me how joining the choir was, sometimes, because they needed that safety of a loving community that understood what they had been through. We cannot underestimate the effect of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder upon our whole community. Even now, when we take a bow at the end of our shows, I know there are a few Pinkies who look to the sky at that moment, and send boundless love to the many friends they lost to AIDS thinking ‘This is for you’. As their hearts swell and their eyes tear up, often, so do mine.

Of course the AIDS crisis wasn’t just confined to our global LGBTQ+ family, but it is fair to say that, in the UK at least, we took the brunt of it. We were robbed of a generation of thinkers, doers, lovers, friends, people who may have changed the world for the better if only they had had a chance. Recently, many of us chose to wear red poppies to commemorate the war dead. How many people will wear the iconic Red Ribbon to commemorate approximately 35 million people lost to HIV and AIDS? I know the Pinkies will.


We are being joined at our World AIDS Day Concert by the wonderful ‘Rainbow Singers Across Borders’, from the organisation ‘Rainbows Across Borders’. They are LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers, many from African countries. The continent of Africa has suffered so much from the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS, with Sub-Saharan Africa remaining the most severely affected. According to the World Health Organisation, nearly 1 in every 25 adults are living with HIV and account for nearly two-thirds of the people living with HIV worldwide.

At a time when people with HIV and AIDS are still struggling to access the health care they so desperately need (particularly in African countries) at a time when the LGBTQ+ population is under attack from many sides (particularly the trans population currently), we think now is a good time to come together in song. We will be using this event to raise money for the National Aids Trust.

To remember those we lost, to help those who are , thankfully, still here, and to keep fighting on. Keep fighting for justice and truth, for the health and well-being of those we love so much. Keep fighting for those who are no longer able to.

We will do it for them, we will do it for us, and we will do it for those who will come next. Our wonderful global family.

We really hope you can join us for this very special day.
The concert is at 7:30pm on World Aids Day Friday 1st December, at St Pancras Church, Euston Road, NW1 2BA. Tickets are by suggested donation, and can be found here.


Pinkie Weekend Away Camaraderie

 

Newbie Tina

Tina, our newbie Soprano for this season, tells us how she survived the craziness that is a Pinkies weekend away!

 

 


I am a newbie to the Pink Singers having joined them in October 2017. During this time I have begun to get to know a vast number of diverse friendly faces who all share a real commitment and passion for music.

Recently there was a planned weekend away for the choir, based at Newland Park in Chalfont St Giles. As a new member I felt very nervous attending this event but also felt excited at the prospect of being involved in a real fun packed weekend of activities all themed around developing our voices, our breathing techniques and more importantly how to work together as a team to produce the professional sound that the Pink Singers have achieved.

The weekend began with an evening campfire sing song (given that we were near to November the 5th).  All of us huddled around a fire, on a cold dark night, yet the night was lit up with pitch perfect songs that the group spontaneously performed from memory without sheet music. I was really moved by the camaraderie, humour and sense of belonging evoked from this experience.

Campfire’s Burning…

Saturday had a busy schedule, very well organised with important rehearsals and the chance to gain valuable knowledge about controlling our breathing and hitting high notes from Patrick Jeremy, a professional singer.  After a busy day of choir rehearsals, we had a fun-packed evening themed “a night at the movies” with an open-mic night. All Pinkies dressed up for the occasion, we had Smurfs, Cruella Deville, The Joker and Julius Caesar to name but a few. There were some amazing solos, duets and even a performance of the cup song. To finish off the night we had fireworks which seemed to sum up again the sense of belonging to something truly special and memorable.

Some more newbies all dolled up for the party

Tina transformed!

On Sunday there was more rehearsals and choreography which included a fun dance routine themed on Footlose, this gave us a chance to practice choreographed music and burn a few calories whilst getting valuable feedback on how this music could be interpreted through movement. There were options to attend a quiz or some improvisation classes which I really enjoyed.

Choreo practise

By the end of the weekend I felt I had developed more connections to other Pinkies, I felt included, had so much fun and felt a real sense of achievement although somewhat tired….., but what a weekend of fun !!!! This choir has a real sense of its own identity and feels more like belonging to a large family and I feel very privileged to be a part of something so energetic, committed and creative.

Save


Pinkies recommended: “They are very good. And they party very hard.”

A new season and a new wonderful group of newbie Pinkies set sail on our pink ship. We asked our new bass Francesco what music means to him and why he decided to become a Pinkie, after his world travels landed him in London.

Singing. Just singing. I missed it so badly. I moved to London earlier this year, at the beginning of January. Of Italian origins – my name easily betrays me – I spent the last seven years of my life in Barcelona, where I finished my studies. By now a little piece of my hearth is Spanish and, to my utmost frustration, so is my accent when I speak Italian.

Music has been a part of my life since I was little. As a kid I was forced into my village music school – I have a clear memory of my mother asking which instrument I wanted to play, and not whether I wanted to play one at all. In hindsight, I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I have so many great memories of playing the cello. I always enjoyed it the most when together: duets with the piano or with my sister on the violin, trios, quartets, orchestras, etc.

When I finally turned into college material, I dropped the bow to focus on my studies – that was the plan at least. But, in fact, music always found his way to drag me into a new, unplanned, adventure. That is how, I ended up spending many Saturdays of my twenties in bars, with an indie-rock band, playing the electric cello (not quite the outcome my mother was hoping for, I believe).  Also, as an exchange student in Portugal, I joined a tuna – a sort of university band voted to polyphonic mockery of college life [Editor – ha! Tuna!] . In Brazil (yet another exchange period) I joined a samba percussion group. In Barcelona I was back in an orchestra… Long story short, no matter how hard I would tell myself I was too busy, I have always the time to let music distract me.

This is how, four years ago, I auditioned for the newly born Barcelona Gay Men’s Chorus (BGMC). I sang with them as a bass ever since, never missed a concert. That was one of the best musical experiences of my life: the companionship among singers, the flow of adrenaline going back and forth with the public, the body resonating with the harmony of the ensemble. It makes me feel so alive and so happy, every single time. It’s a chemistry I do not understand and yet one of the biggest pleasures of my life. And in the process I gained friends, a real family of people that shared with me the alchemy of making music together.

Finally, when I decided to move to the UK and I was kissing my BGMC friends goodbye, I remember Matteo’s advice – quoting verbatim he would say: “Francesco, once in London you should audition for the Pink Singers. They are very good. And they party very hard.”

Francesco (right) at the Pinkies Newbies Party

So, time to unpack my luggage, settle in the new flat, find my balance at work… and I was already showing all the symptoms of vocal abstinence. I had to follow Matteo’s wise advice. So I reached out to the Pinkies for an audition. Next thing I know I was on a trial rehearsal, being so happy I could not help smiling like a loser all the way through it. It was such an energy booster. I didn’t actually realise how much I missed it since that moment.

And fingers crossed, legs broken and a pretty lame audition later, I was actually embarked on a pink ship headed towards the next concert season! I am super excited about this new adventure and greatly thankful for the welcoming reception of the choir. I just need to apologise in advance to my new choir friends for all the times I ask everyone’s names again. Memory was never my strength.

I really hope that in time I will have occasion to know the choir all a little better and eventually gain a little spot in their Pinkie heart. Even if @LaLaLondon it is always another day of rain, if feels very sunny to me each time we meet!

Save

Save

Save

Save


12 DAYS OF FREEDOM IN 32 YEARS!

It’s hard to believe that a month has passed already since our Indian friends from Rainbow Voices Mumbai arrived on our shores and created a rainbow rollercoaster of excitement, pride, and amazing memories for us all. RVM’s Ashish describes his experience… 

July 6th, 2017 marked in my calendar is one of the most memorable days of my 32 years of life. The first time ever I flew across oceans and lands so far beyond my reach to explore freedom and equality. I had never thought this back in July 2016, that my next summer would be full of excitement, learning and love.

It was conceived when the Pink Singers came to India in January 2017 for Mumbai Pride and our ‘We Shall Overcome’ concert, to support Rainbow Voices Mumbai and the Indian LGBT community to fight for our rights. In January, we mingled, loved, and sang together to a packed audience at the NCPA theatre in Mumbai. The concert was a medium to create awareness and educate people about the hurdles we face in India due to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (which criminalises homosexual activity, introduced under British Rule in 1860). It was one mammoth task for a choir as young as ours to host Europe’s longest running community choir; we managed it successfully and learnt quite a few lessons in organising a standalone concert, which now seems to be a permanent part of the Mumbai Pride Calendar.

We were high on emotions and warmth extended by the Pink Singers and equally mesmerised with the musical abilities of the choir. We were amazed how spot on, entertaining and thoroughly convincing they were with the message they brought with them. I still remember Murray Hipkin, the Musical Director saying, “We have not come to fix anything; probably we can’t fix anything for you, but what we can do is to support you in all possible ways to revert section 377.”

The words were more soothing and actions were even more, when after the concert the Chair of the Pink Singers – affectionately known as ‘Cher’ – Simon Pearson, made the announcement of inviting Rainbow Voices Mumbai to London Pride and to take part in their summer concert. We were overwhelmed with the gesture and yet a bit lost with things that needed to be done! Constant encouragement and successful fundraising by the Pink Singers made the impossible possible for 10 of us (sadly the other eight couldn’t make it because of visa issues!).

Ashish & ‘Cher’

With hopes high and dreams in our eyes, we flew to the land of freedom and equality. The tour started with each of us being hosted by a few of the Pink Singers, which gave us the chance to see and learn how independent lives of gay men and women are, in contrast to India – where we don’t choose to live alone even if we are grown up enough to be married off!

On arrival, my host Simon came to the terminal to receive me, despite his fractured ankle. This gesture of his shows how dear and encouraging was their approach to us. It was my first international trip and it seemed to me a different world: new weather, time zones, people, culture and systems; I was in awe of every little thing I saw. First what struck me was platform 9¾ at Kings Cross! Being a Potterhead, I was enthralled to see it. As I walked the streets with Simon I saw a Pride flag along with the British Flag waving with pride in the front of the British Library – this reaffirmed my belief that equality and freedom are not merely words here, they actually mean it.

Exploring London from the London Eye

My dear friend Hsien met me and we were off to Canary Wharf for a lovely lunch, but before that the Thames Clipper just wowed me! Like a kid in a candy store I was in love with the skyline and monuments on both the side of the river, clicking pictures and noticing the P-flag everywhere we went. A new city, new day,  even jet-lag couldn’t deter my spirits and we explored a few parts of the Naval College and Greenwich.

I believe that destiny had bigger plans for us: we never had heard about anything as big as London Pride and we all were excited to take part. We vogued in style with our Rainbow t-shirts, painted ourselves with rainbows and were ready for the world’s biggest party. As we were waiting for the Pride march to begin I saw people from all walks of life, races, professions and ages joining this mega event. We have never seen such a phenomenon back home; instead we are judged by the people for gathering and walking the Pride march in Mumbai.

London Pride 2017

As we marched up to Trafalgar Square, we saw people waving, cheering us on and even calling for a hug from the other side of the barricades. Such love, acceptance and cheer filled all of us with positivity and re-affirmed that we are walking on the right path to attain freedom and equality for all of us. Then came the moment to go on the Pride main stage where we were to perform to the largest crowd we have ever performed in front of. The moment I addressed the crowds with ‘Namaste’, a huge cheer and ‘Namaste’ I heard back, and the crowd was moved with our rendition of ‘We Shall Overcome’ in English and Hindi. I could see a few in tears when they learned that section 377 criminalizes homosexual activities in India. I think, I was nervous but I knew this was the only time I could talk to London as a city and made sure that I spoke right and conveyed the purpose of our visit.

London has different colours during pride and our friends the Pink Singers made sure we got the best of London and also that we got opportunities to meet the ones who had supported our trip  such as eBay. It was great interacting with the eBay office and we are indebted to them for their support very much.

The city charmed me to the core, whether it was architecture, culture, Soho – the night life for gays was amazing! I watched my first musical ever and my first drag show here in London. The experiences are still sinking in for me and I am unable to really believe that something so surreal happened to me. As we explored, Brighton, Richmond and the city of London, we had so many memorable times with the Pink Singers – singing in parks, at house parties and a lot more.

I had unknowingly become the spokesperson of the choir. I had previous experience of talking to media back home but that was for work. I was told that I was crisp in front of camera and this boosted my confidence even more. In the media coverage – though I am not out as a gay man in India – I did not hide my identity. This is because I got encouragement in my week’s exposure to London and its acceptance; the unwavering support from the Pink Singers filled me with a “come what may” attitude and I put my best foot forward to be heard on all possible platforms. 

The support continued even on the concert stage, when the audience gave the 12 of us a standing ovation before we even started.

I have taken back home  a lot of inspiration, strength, and conviction in what we do and yes, more purpose to the music we do. My hosts Simon and James were the coolest ones and I miss those lanes and bylanes of London… With a dream to come back, I sign off from India!

Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom


Describing my first Pinkies performance in one word

In the second of our post-concert blogs, we hear from newbie tenor Andrew: 

I ended up staying awake late last night thinking of the right word to sum up my feelings towards my first Pink Singers concert (it feels like it happened just yesterday, but I’ve been reliably informed that it was actually a week ago). Dictionary.com ended up being very little help. How do you combine all the feelings and emotions of *that* performance?

On the one hand, Saturday’s concert was exhausting. As a newbie, I had been warned that the day was going to be a long one. Technical rehearsals started at midday and ran pretty much up until the audience started taking their seats. It probably also didn’t help that I was up until 2am the night before adding glittery stickers to an otherwise dull pair of Primark plimsolls. If it wasn’t for my deep reserves of cereal bars and pasta pots, I’m not sure I would have made it through.

This season’s newbies, about to pop their concert ‘cherry’! 😉 Photo credit: Liang Wee

The final few minutes before the concert were  vaguely terrifying too, not least because I hadn’t had a chance to try my new pair of black trousers on and was only 20% sure that they would fit at all. I’ve performed in front of audiences in the past – and loved doing so – but I suddenly realised how long it had been. The last time I had sung on stage, I was young enough that my mum had made my costume and my voice was an octave higher. The idea of performing in front of my friends, family, and hundreds of others that had paid actual real life money to see us was suddenly quite nerve-wracking in a way I hadn’t expected.

Backstage jollity. Photo credit: Liang Wee

The concert itself was a rush. Both in that it was a massive adrenaline rush, and that it all seemed to rush by in no time at all. I wish I could have had more time to savour every moment of it, but before I knew it we’d sung our songs and the audience was on their feet cheering. Our two amazing guest choirs had knocked it out of the park, and we’d delivered our best performances of the season so far.

I also found myself feeling quote emotional throughout. I had always understood the vague concept of this season’s concert, reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England in Wales, but I didn’t properly appreciate how our songs would bring the audience on this journey. Where have we come from and where are we now? What successes should we celebrate, and where do we need to continue the fight, both at home and abroad? I got the impression that everyone in the choir approached the topic from their own unique perspective and based in their own personal experiences. I know that I certainly did. Our performances were certainly more powerful for it.

Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom

So despite my long search, I’m yet to find a word that sums up everything I felt on that Saturday. The closest that I’ve been able to find is proud. Cheesy I know, but it’s true. Proud of my fellow Pinkies for delivering the most amazing performance on the night that gave me goosebumps just to be a part of it. Proud of everyone on the artistic team and management committee who had put in far more time and effort than I had to make the night such a massive success. Proud of the amazing performances from Out Aloud and Rainbow Voices Mumbai (who I don’t think I will ever forget). Most of all though, I felt proud of myself.

This was my first concert with the Pinkies, but it’s not going to be my last. How could I turn down the opportunity to sing again with such a lovely and talented group of people? Last Sunday’s hangover might have faded, but the memories never will. Bring on concert number two!

Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom

Can’t wait to get your next Pink Singers fix? This August, we’ll be performing as part of the Hand in Hand Festival in Manchester (Celebrating LGBT+ choirs in the UK and Ireland). The concert will also feature Sing Out Bristol and Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus. Tickets are only £7 and going quickly!


Percy Pig, Pixie cuts & Popping my Pinkie Cherry

Newbie soprano Verity has just taken part in her first concert with The Pink Singers. And what a concert it was! Read about her percy pig, pixie cut, Pinkie cherry popping experience… 

Arguably, the idea of a ‘community choir’ is tautologous: a choir is inescapably a kind of community. Every member must be valued, not despite, but because of, their different voices. A good choir only functions when all the parts are listening and responding to each other. A choir is united towards a common goal: sharing a beautiful sound.

Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom –
http://hotfox.eu/

The Pink Singers is undoubtedly a community in this way, and with every rehearsal and sectional, my pride in being part of it only grew. Joining the Pink Singers this season, I came to better appreciate the extraordinary diversity within our vibrant community. There are so many places to carve out a home on the LGBT+ spectrum: having only really occupied the student halls of queer living before, it has been so liberating to learn from the experiences of other Pinkies. I’ve met those who have sung with the choir for decades and fellow newbies, those who are recently out and those who have known since they were eleven, doctors and cupcake decorators, granddads and mums-to-be. I felt immediately embraced and included.

We are also a community choir in the sense we represent the wider LGBT+ community and this was best demonstrated by our concert on From Queer to Eternity: Songs of Struggle and Celebration featuring Rainbow Voices Mumbai and Out Aloud (Sheffield). After months of rehearsals, things began to kick off when I met the members of Rainbow Voices Mumbai – about whom I had heard so much from Pinkies who had visited India last year – at London Pride to sing in  Trafalgar Square in front of ten thousand happy revellers.

Photo credit: Liang Wee

After sweaty dress rehearsals and choreography clinics, Saturday the 15th July rolled around. I arrived at Cadogan Hall clutching a bag of Veggie Percy Pigs (which are rapidly becoming a Soprano section staple) and filled with determination. The elements of the show we’d only heard about came to life – the gallery, the staging and the poignant projections which would be played behind us (designed by the very talented Soprano Jessica Cheeseman). After a tech run which seemed to whizz by and before I knew it, I was doling out hair clay and styling pixie cuts in the dressing room. Someone pinned a silk pink rose on my left boob and gave me a cherry to bite seductively in a bizarre but wholly consensual initiation ritual. A quick dressing room warm up was had and we were ready to wander onto the stage to the sounds of birdsong as the marvellous Artistic Director Simon Harrison had planned.

Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom –
http://hotfox.eu/

It is difficult to do justice to the concert itself using words alone, but moments stand out. For example, when bass Phil hit the last note of our cover of Radiohead’s Creep; the standing ovation as Rainbow Voices Mumbai walked onstage; the stillness as we sang Dear Mr President, followed by Somewhere from West Side Story; and the ecstatic moment giant colourful balloons fell down on us to close the concert.

As we waved goodbye to the hall of supporters, it was then I really understood what it means to be an LGBT+ community choir. We had held an audience of LGBT+ Londoners, allies, friends and families and whispered gently that we saw them; that we’re proud of them; that we stand with them in their struggle for liberation.

I love listening to post-concert hubbub. Significant others of Pinkies were spotted in the crowd, proud parents were posing for photos. In this big and often impersonal city, I realised that I had at last found a home with my beautiful choir.

Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom –
http://hotfox.eu/

Can’t wait to get your next Pink Singers fix? Not feeling the Pinkie love because we never perform up north? This August, The Pink Singers will be performing as part of the Hand in Hand Festival in Manchester (Celebrating LGBT+ choirs in the UK and Ireland). This concert will also feature Sing Out Bristol and Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus. Tickets are only £7 and going quickly!


Inside Pride

Alto Eleonore took part in the Pride parade for the first time last weekend, which included a performance in Trafalgar Square with our special guests for the week, Rainbow Voices Mumbai. Here’s her glitter’tastic account of the day…

It’s a rainy Wednesday morning. The weekend is over. Pride is over. The placards are shelved, the face paint is boxed, and the glitter – well. The glitter is still bloody everywhere. Much like the feeling of joy and – of course – pride, in the aftermath of this weekend’s London celebrations, the stuff lingers on. 

This year was a special occasion for me. In 28 years, I’ve never been on a Pride march. I’ve watched the parade before, from behind the barriers, and it’s always been good fun, but I always sort of felt like I was there to support the community, rather than because I was a part of it. 

As someone who oscillates somewhere between the occasionally-maligned ‘B’ in LGBT and the comfortingly vague but sometimes-contentious catch-all term ‘Queer’, it can sometimes feel like you’re just not gay enough for an event like Pride – like there’s a threshold you have to cross or a qualification you have to meet before being allowed to participate.   

Luckily, I had the Pink Singers this year, to show me a thing or two about what being a part of the community means.

With the Pinkies, the only thing I’ve needed to prove is a commitment to turning up to rehearsal. The only thing I’ve been tested on is my memory for song lyrics and choreography. My membership to the choir depends on attendance (and the membership fee that helps keep us running) – not on proving my queer credentials. The LGBT experience is at the core of the group, but here there’s no licence to the club that gets revoked for not being gay the right way. All that’s asked is that you turn up, you sing, and you support your fellow Pinkies. 

Marching at Pride this year with this group of wonderful people, I got to experience, for the first time, the feeling of being on the inside, instead of outside-looking-in. The love in the air was tangible – made all the more vivid by having the members of Mumbai’s LGBT choir, Rainbow Voices, with us, bringing an added level of joy, excitement, and connection to a global community. Standing in front of thousands of people on stage in Trafalgar Square, all of us holding hands, leading a rendition of ‘We Shall Overcome’ in English and Hindi is a memory that will stay dear to me for a very long time. 

It’s been a whirlwind weekend; I haven’t had time to do my laundry, the flat is a mess, and that glitter still needs to come out of the carpet. But I feel lucky. I feel proud. Most of all, I feel accepted.

So here’s to next year’s Pride, and to many more!

Did you catch our performance with Rainbow Voices Mumbai in Trafalgar Square during Pride? If you liked what you saw, then come and see us again on Saturday at Cadogan Hall – a show that promises to take you ‘from Queer to Eternity’! Book here!


Introducing: Rainbow Voices Mumbai & Out Aloud Sheffield

There’s just one week to go until the Pinkies are joined on  the Cadogan Hall stage to perform songs of celebration, struggle and hope – marking 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK. Kirsten, one of our resting altos, introduces the two choirs who will be performing with us – Sheffield’s Out Aloud and Rainbow Voices Mumbai who have flown in all the way from India!

Rainbow Voices Mumbai (RVM) are only three years old, but already they are making their mark in the fight for LGBT equality. For their members a version of UK Victorian Law – Section 377 – is still in place – criminalising them and tens of millions of others just for being who they are. Whilst the fight for equality here is not yet over, on the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK we are working with RVM to highlight the significance of inequality faced by our Indian friends.

Politics aside, RVM are a fabulous, fun and talented choir. When we visited them in Mumbai in January they moved us with their heartfelt performances – and their wonderfully warm personalities. With a mammoth effort from both RVM and our #PSIndia committee this project has come to life, and I hope we can be as welcoming as they were to us, on the second leg of this unique exchange.

I for one can’t wait to see their set at Cadogan Hall next weekend – from feisty pop songs to moving traditional Indian pieces, their performance is not to be missed!

We will also be joined by Out Aloud – Sheffield’s LGBT choir. Formed in 2006 and led by Val Regan, they have a diverse repertoire including jazz, classical and soul numbers. We are very excited to be singing with our northern friends again! And if you want to hear more, why not make the trip up to Sheffield Pride at the end of this month, where Out Aloud will be performing!

So come to Cadogan Hall next Saturday and prepare to be taken on a musical journey with us all: from hidden to visible… from shame to pride… from Queer to Eternity!

Buy your tickets here now


Hello, my name’s Claire and I’m a lesbian.

What does it mean to be part of the LGBTQ community? Why is there a need for one? Our next concert – on 15th July – seeks to explore this, as we mark 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality. In the run up to the show, which we’ve called ‘From Queer to Eternity‘,  alto Claire shares what being part of the LGBTQ community means to her…

Lesbian.  It’s a word.  It’s a word that I use to describe myself.  I’ve used this word to describe myself for a long time, but truly it is only the last few years that I wear this word like a layer of skin; an epidermis; a fully functioning part of myself that exists in peace rather than a badge that gets brought out on occasion.  It’s part of my identity that I share and I don’t care who knows.

I realise I am in a fortunate position – this country has come a long way to protect the rights of LGBTQ people and the way the community is perceived.  Growing up in Thatcher’s Britain, there was Section 28, homophobic mainstream media, no positive gay role models on TV that I could identify with, the word ‘lesbian’ thrown around my classroom like a shameful slur…. In short, growing up as a gay kid in the 80’s was a lonely experience. To quote the fine words of Skunk Anansie, ‘It takes blood and guts to be this cool, but I’m still such a cliché’.     

I think it is human nature to reach out to others like yourself and being part of the LGBTQ community, I have done just that: joining the Pink Singers (coming up to 15 years now..  eeek!) not only normalised my gayness but I have also been blessed with amazing friendship, companionship, laughter, LGBTQ campaigning buddies (home and abroad), and compassion – all wrapped up in a big glitterball of song and sparkle.

By being part of the LGBTQ community I have had the opportunity to perform and campaign all over the world: Iceland, France, Ireland, Denmark and more recently, India.  I feel it is my duty as part of this community to campaign for the rights of our friends abroad who are not as fortunate as we are in the UK; to campaign for equality and to address hate in all forms.  I am so excited to be welcoming our friends from Rainbow Voices Mumbai in July this year to march with us in London Pride and perform with us in London – part of a year long, life changing cultural exchange.

The brief I was given for this blog was ‘how has being LGBTQ changed your life’.  Well, to be honest, it is my life, it is who I am.  But only one part of me: I am also a daughter, sister, friend, lover, singer, performer, colleague, activist, transport nerd, indie tunes enthusiast, fan of drinking tea and dancing (although not necessarily at the same time) and so much more.

Hello, my name is Claire and I am a lesbian.

There’s still time to book tickets to see us and our special guests, Out Aloud from Sheffield and Rainbow Voices Mumbai. Please click here to book!


‘Love & Affection’ ahead of the concert

The Pink Singers will be taking to the stage once more in less than three weeks time, for our summer concert at Cadogan Hall: From Queer to Eternity. Tenor Liang talks about one of the songs we’ll be performing and what it means to him.

I was first introduced to the music of Joan Armatrading in the late 1980’s by a university friend. Unlike the usual pop music of the time, I was instantly entranced by her unconventional tunes with meaningful lyrics. The opening lines “I’m not in love, but I’m open to persuasion” made Love and Affection an instant favourite.  Her soulful, contralto voice gave the words a depth of meaning which I witnessed at  two of her concerts.

I was delighted to find that my suggestion for a Joan Armatrading song was included in the repertoire for this season and e of our sopranos – Emelda Nicholroy – has put together an arrangement for the Pink Singers which is true to the style and feel of the original song.
As a tenor, I don’t sing the opening lines; but I get to sing “You took me dancing, cross the floor, cheek to cheek”.  After more than 40 years in the business, Joan Armatrading is still going strong, and long may she continue.  I hope she will like our arrangement and rendition of her torch song.
To see us perform this and more, please click here to buy your tickets for our summer show. We look forward to seeing you there!

London's LGBT Community Choir