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A Learning Journey

David Allerton talks about his Pinkie learning journey culminating in an amazing virtual performance.

David Allerton

Joining the Pink Singers during lockdown is very different from joining us in “normal” times. And creating our first virtual performance of Fix You was a challenge for all of us and we’re very proud of the results. Newbie David tells us about some of the technical challenges and how he overcame them. 

I joined the Pink Singers in February of this year and had five consecutive and immensely enjoyable Sunday afternoons of rehearsals and drinks afterwards in the pub. All the while the viral menace was looming ever larger, eventually forcing us all, and the Pinkies too, into lockdown.

Here the learning really began. I am a teacher, and I had to learn how to deliver lessons purely on-line. And then to work out Zoom in order to continue to rehearse with the Pinkies. But the steepest curve came when we were instructed to record ourselves singing Coldplay’s Fix You. 

If you’ve not yet watched the video do so here!

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For existing members this was a familiar piece, but unfamiliar to almost all of us is how our voices sound when recorded singing alone. It takes you by surprise, when there is nowhere to hide, no other voices to blend with. It was a rude awakening and I almost threw in the towel after the first take, but the great thing about lockdown is you have acres of time to fill, and I forced myself to persevere. I recorded a take, then listened carefully, winced, made notes, and set out to improve. Certain things – notes, words, breathing, just required practice. Other things – a lack of control when beginning a new phrase, or sounding reedy in certain parts of my range, or just the mental stamina required to stay at performance standard for the whole take – well, over two evenings I worked harder than I ever have before on my singing. 

David’s improvised video recording setup!

I am so proud of the improvements I made, and will remember those intense, solitary hours as something almost beautiful. The take I submitted was far from perfect – I desperately wanted to splice my best three takes together, but time was up. I like to think I can hear my own voice in the mix, here and there. Perhaps with each imperfection. 

It has been a great experience being able to contribute and harness ubiquitous technologies like mobiles and laptops, to transform your living room into a home studio.

David Allerton, Bass

“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

Art fixes us and The Pink Singers Fixed Me

Keri Seymour
Keri Seymour

Like all choirs lockdown has left us unable to get together to sing and perform. So we moved online and this season’s concert was replaced by a virtual choir version of Coldplay’s Fix You. Keri tells us about her emotional journey of choir life in lock down and the positive impact doing this project had on her. 

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Watch our incredible performance here!

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Let’s start by stating the obvious. Lockdown sucks for everyone. It is horrible. The world is hurting, black lives matter, all over the world our politicians aren’t doing enough, and I haven’t hugged my friends in nearly 4 months. Not to mention feeling that at times I’d have given my left arm for a freshly poured pint. (Not the right as I need that one to lift the glass to my mouth.) Yet, one thing has simultaneously broken my heart and carried me through and that was my choir. The Pink Singers were my community salvation before corona became a thing and they’ve kept me sane while corona wreaks havoc on my psyche and my bank account. The group pulled together, and together we walked through these times. We’ve had ‘socials’, quiz nights, watched drag queens together, distance cooked pancakes. The altos talked me off the proverbial ledge one day when loneliness and uncertainty became too much. Hell, a section member drove 2 hours to wave at me and give me strawberries from a distance. 

Now, although we’ve never stopped our rehearsals by moving them onto Zoom just like the rest of the world, they haven’t been quite as fulfilling as the live interaction rehearsal. They aren’t perfect but they have been something. Every week I can see some or most of my community striving to maintain not just our connection but our Art. Art with a capital ‘A.’ Now, this isn’t going to be a blog entry about the importance of Art or how it brings us together, or how it changes the world, or how it makes most days worth the trudge. It is a blog entry on the moment I heard my choir sing again. While we had moved our choir online, the one thing Zoom couldn’t give us was the possibility of singing together. Corona robbed us of making collective music. The collective heart strings. I will hate corona for this forever. I’d give up all those possible pints for that moment of sitting in a room and listening to when all our voices melt into one. After two months of being online, I began to lose my faith and my mojo. I started to feel disconnected from one of the things that had so much meaning to me. I began to just show up but I couldn’t feel the music. 

When it was suggested that we contribute to a ‘virtual choir’ performance I went along with it. I had already slumped into a ‘what does it matter’ attitude; I couldn’t imagine it would achieve anything or fulfil me. But I went ahead and recorded my piece, singing by myself in my flat with no worries of being overheard (I live alone) but desperately needing someone to hear me. To hear the love of music and the love of my community and feel the joy coming through me. Tears ruined my first three takes. I sent the fourth with complete certainty that it was awful and unusable. 

A week later the mix was released. I didn’t listen. I couldn’t. There was no way it could fill my heart, it wasn’t going to change anything. Or worse, it was going to be awful and ruin the beauty of the Pink Singers for me. This is what happened when I listened: the music started, Shauna starting the solo, then my and Ali’s voices join. I choked. As the song says, the tears came streaming down my face. I listened to 4 minutes and 41 seconds of my soul piecing back together. Listen, I’m an artist and that makes me a bit poetic when speaking about hearts, but damn it, each crescendo glued my broken little hurting heart back together. Each harmony cleansed the staleness from my spirit. I had been floundering in isolation and lack of direction and there it was – the ‘ooo’s’ and ‘ahhh’ of our collective voices melting into one again. All the pain, all the missing, all feeling of a hole in my heart filled and eased by the sound of our voices. By the sound of Us. 

Art fixes us and The Pink Singers Fixed Me. 

Keri Seymour, Alto

Launching our First Virtual choir

– and what an emotional one it is!

Last weekend we should have been performing live at the Cadogan Hall, so we thought this was a perfect time for us to launch our first virtual choir performance.

‘Fix You’, is a song that Chris Martin of Coldplay had written for his wife Gwyneth Paltrow after her father died. It is a song about coming to terms with loss and has always been emotional for the choir and audiences alike.

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The performance starts with a feeling of sadness and isolation which turns to despair (‘Tears stream down your face when you lose something you cannot replace’) before taking us on a journey of hope: ‘Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones, and I will try to fix you’. The lyrics remind us that we need to help each other get through difficult times. This is especially true for some LGBT+ people who may find it difficult to meet like-minded friends in their community, but now face added isolation because of Covid-19.

The accompanying video tells the story of the Pink Singers and how our members are guided by six main themes: Pride; Community; Performance; Diversity; Solidarity; and History. And, by sharing our joy online, we will inspire others to “See the light”. 

When we played the finished recording in our final choir rehearsal of the season there was stunned silence as to how our individual tracks and home video recordings could have been turned into such an amazing and emotional story. We hope you enjoy it. And if you do, please share it! 

The Pink Singers

Timeline datestamp: 08 July 2020

Become a Finance Trustee

Finance trustee required

Now in our 37th year, the Pink Singers is a fun, friendly LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) choir based in London. 

Pink Singers perform the Winter 2018 concert “A Night At The Movies: The Sequel” at Cadogan Hall, London, 20th January 2018

We have grown to 90 active members, we have been involved in some amazing projects with the LGBT+ community around the world and we continue to delight our audiences by improving the quality of our performances and broadening our repertoire. 

Following an extensive review our members voted to make some fundamental changes to how we run the choir and we have established a new Board of Trustees which has been in place for 9 months. We are now seeking to make an external appointment of a Finance Trustee onto our Board of Trustees.

We recently drafted a new constitution and are in the process of changing our structure from an Unincorporated Association to a Charity Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and are hoping to have approval from the Charities Commission later in 2020.

In the new structure existing choir members continue to manage day-to-day activities, whilst a group of up to 7 Trustees oversee our strategy and governance.

The Pink Singers Afterparty at Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London, 20th January 2018

The new Board of Trustees includes at least one member of the current choir with most other Trustees coming from outside the current choir membership. 

We would particularly encourage applications from BAME / trans / non binary / female applicants to improve our intersectional diversity.

Time commitment

In the first year whilst the Board works with our current organisational team to develop a sustainable long term structure the time commitment may be around 5-10 hours per month, with this likely to reduce over time. 

Currently the Trustee Board meets monthly for 1 – 1.5 hours with Trustees either attending in person at Business in the Community (N1 7RQ) or virtually by telephone or video conferencing. We are aiming to reduce the frequency of these meetings once we are more set up and the change-over to a CIO has been completed. Between meetings Trustees are expected to complete agreed actions which might include involvement in projects the Pink Singers are undertaking, or in the case of the Finance Trustee scrutiny of the accounts with the choir Treasurer for example.

Roles, profiles and other info

Please click on the links below to access the role profile(s) you are interested in.

You can also find out more about why we are recruiting an external board of Trustees.

Application process and timescales

Please send your application form and CV to Dr Helen Drew (Trustee Secretary) at trustee.secretary@pinksingers.co.uk. Please also contact Helen if you have would like any further information or have any questions. 

The deadline for applications is Sunday 23rd August 2020

We are anticipating that interviews will take place virtually in early September.