“Fix You” and my trans journey

Cel Smith

As we can’t perform live at the moment we’ve had to move online and find innovative ways of creating and sharing music. For our first virtual choir performance we chose Coldplay’s Fix You. Cel tells us about what the song means to them

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We sang Fix You at my first concert with the Pink Singers, ‘Sing!. I joined in Autumn 2016, and as a newbie and a French speaker, I was asked to make a speech, introducing our guest choir Equivox from Paris, with whom we would then perform this as a joint song. I have always shied away from public speaking, being a quiet person, and this challenge filled me with fear and apprehension. To this day, I associate the preceding song Youll Never Walk Alone with uncontrollable nerves, and the song Fix You with breathing a sigh of relief, having given the speech. 

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The four years I have been part of the Pink Singers represent a very important period in my life, because soon after joining I started to take my first real steps in coming to terms with being trans. That is no coincidence. The choir was an open and welcoming group, and I was able to begin exploring my identity at a time when I desperately needed to start dealing with those issues. When we met again to start the new season in early 2017, I was ready to start using a new name, and I found a way of finally expressing my non-binary identity, in this safe environment initially. That summer, for the first time I had the opportunity to attend Pride with a group of friends, to march and to perform. It’s a happy memory for me, filled with sunshine, song and celebration. 

This summer, things are a little different and marching at Pride was one of the things I missed the most. The first Zoom meeting for the Pink Singers was emotionally charged, with all of us still trying to process the sudden arrival of the virus that would rip through our lives and our community almost overnight. A few days earlier we had been forced to cancel our album recording, a project that the choir had invested in and been preparing for for months (this would have been the second time my French skills were being called upon – this time I was filled with even more nerves at being asked to rap in French!) Some of us were thrown into instant isolation, some fearing for our jobs or the health of our loved ones, others facing the grim reality of working on the NHS frontline. We came together for a few hours in mid-March and shared a moment. Acutely aware of being apart, we held onto a sense of togetherness, and knew that we were there for each other. 

Cel on stage at Cadogan Hall

Many weeks on, we have continued to meet once a week, sometimes more, and attendance has been strong. Our Sunday ‘rehearsals’ have meant so much more to me than just singing. In fact, one might argue that the singing has become somewhat questionable. Nobody really knows, given that we can’t actually hear each other. We still persevere and have made slow but steady progress in learning some of our new rep. But these Zoom sessions have offered us the chance to look back at our prior performances, share our experiences during the lockdown, see each other perform individually, and learn about the choir’s long and fascinating history. While there is so much to be missed from our time before the pandemic, we have also found that there is much to be gained. 

Singing Fix You again for our video project has brought me back to that first concert, and that sigh of relief I breathed as I stepped away from centre stage after my speech. It has helped me to reflect on my personal journey over the last few years, and the important role that the choir has played in that journey. I may always be a quiet person, but I’m finding my voice – unfortunately, that voice no longer hits the high note near the end of the song; apologies in advance if you can hear me! Perhaps that’s due to the lack of practice in the last few months, or maybe it’s the testosterone. In that concert back in 2017, when we reached that climactic moment in the song, everyone on stage made some form of physical contact with another person, for example by holding hands or putting an arm around someone’s shoulder. That’s the moment I’m hit with a pang of sadness as I sit alone at home, singing into the computer. Yet despite being away from our community in the physical sense, indefinitely, I know that I’m not really alone, that I can be myself now. And that’s a sigh of relief that I can’t begin to describe. 

Cel Smith, Alto