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.
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!
Now in our 37th year, the Pink Singers is a fun, friendly LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) choir based in London.
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 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.
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.
This year’s Pride will mark the 50th anniversary of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). There will be a socially distanced veterans’ march taking place from BBC centre onwards to Trafalgar Square to celebrate anniversary of the first gay liberation front march. And as a founding member of the GLF our very own Philip Rescorla will be attending the march.
On Sunday 21st June, in the run up to the event, members of the choir were treated to a fascinating interview with Pinkies Michael Derrick and Philip Rescorla along with Philip’s partner Martin Edwardes about LGBT activism in the early 70s and how the GLF was established. The Pink Singers was formed a few years later in 1983 for the Lesbian & Gay Pride march in London. This activism and political agenda was at the heart of the establishment of the Pink Singers and remains so today.
Watch the video below and read Philip’s fascinating account of the early history of the GLF.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) which had its first meeting in London on 14th October 1970 at the London School of Economics where I was studying Social Administration. Nineteen of us attended the first meeting. The GLF dragged homosexuality out of the closet, onto the streets and into the public eye.
By the end of January 1971 there were up to five hundred people a week attending the General Meetings and in August 1970 there was a march from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square organised by the Youth Group. I had become part of the GLF Street Theatre and we devised a special piece for the occasion (see picture, I’m the bearded one in the middle couple).
In July 1972 the first Gay Pride march left Trafalgar Square and marched to Hyde Park for a Gay Pride Party, with over a thousand in attendance, accompanied by two thousand police! By then the GLF had started to fragment but it had created the conditions for the LGBTQ movements we have now, giving birth to our helplines, newspapers and activist groups.
In 1983 the Pink Singers were formed to provide a choir for the Pride March and we have never missed a London Pride March or Festival since. Marching with my Pink Singers family is one of the highlights of my year and I count myself fortunate to have been there at the start of the modern gay movement and fought for the rights we enjoy today in the UK.
This is the first year since 1983 that we haven’t been able to attend London Pride physically as a choir. To make up for this Pinkies Amy, Sally-Anne and Will tell us about their respective first prides.
Happy Pride Month, y’all.
Pride looks a lot different this year than I expected. I was hoping that the Pride in London Parade would be my first Pride event. I have never been to any Pride before – not even as an ally. I was too afraid of being associated with “The Homosexuals” and stigmatized by my religion for being an ally to go to a Pride event. In other words, I was the opposite of proud. I was ashamed of being queer.
As I grow more and more into myself and grow more confident in identifying as a bisexual and queer woman created by a loving God, I feel more confident participating in Pride month.
But then we had a global pandemic. And large gatherings got canceled. And then protesters marched down my street and one of them waved a rainbow flag with the words “I can’t breathe” written on it. And I realized Pride month isn’t canceled. It just looks different this year. It’s still happening. And this year we are remembering that Pride started with five days of rioting at Stonewall. We are remembering that black and brown women led the way. We remember that, like people of color, LGBTQ people have suffered from police brutality.
Intersectionality has me thinking about how I can make my understanding of Pride — and my baby steps towards representing myself and supporting rights for the LGBTQ community — more inclusive.”
Amy Delamaide, Alto
My first Pride (or “Gay Pride” as it was called then) was in 1985. It was a small affair compared with the event today and Divine sang from a boat on the Thames. I’m not sure if I went on my own but I wouldn’t have minded as it was so important for me to be there. I probably told my Dad (who was very supportive) that I would try and go to the march, because I remember ringing him afterwards from the payphone in “The Fallen Angel”- a then famous Gay pub in Islington, all excited because I had done it!
This was during or shortly after the Miners Strike and an organisation called “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners” helped support the strikers financially by collecting donations. A woman from a Welsh mining area explained that people in the mining community were not sure what to say to “them” (the lesbians and gays) at first. But after the two groups had met, she said that now they ask “when are those nice people from London coming back?” She also said that she wanted us to understand that “If my child grows up and tells me they’re gay,that’s alright”. I know that may not sound very radical today, but in those days, there was more prejudice against us. Years later, the story about how gay and lesbian people supported the Welsh miners was the subject of the film “Pride”.
Two years ago I attended my first Pride event. I got up at nine am, put on a rather rushed layer of eyeliner, splattered some glitter on my cheekbones and got the tube into central London.
I had got up this early to take part in a walking tour around Soho. As we walked, the guides explained its historical importance as a hub for protests, revelry, historic scandals and as a spiritual home for the LGBTQ+ community. Later as I watched the parade all this history gave me an emotional context to the hundreds of people, companies and choirs, to name just a few, all marching with their own individual communities. I hoped that one day I would be part of this parade, dancing in the street, walking arm in arm with my chosen family.
In the autumn of 2019, I joined the Pink Singers and after an incredibly emotional and happy first season, somewhere in the back of my mind there was a growing excitement about next year’s Pride march. Indeed, when it got to January it started to come up on the agenda for the season. Every single time it was mentioned, even in passing, I felt tingles down my spine.
When Covid-19 meant that all Pride marches this year were cancelled my first reaction was that of complete deflation. I knew that this was only temporary, and that there would be other opportunities to march and to show pride, but in that moment a great sadness pervaded my being.
But then the Pinkies virtual choir began, and slowly but surely this irrational sadness has been replaced with that same awed feeling I felt at my first ever Pride. Throughout these rehearsals we have explored not only the history of the choir, but past stories of incredible activism. We have sung, cried and laughed together, and I could not be more grateful for the privilege to sing every week with my friends.
I have come to the realisation that Pride with the Pink Singers is not about a march. It is about living your life through community, through activism, through laughter, through bad zoom connections and most importantly through song.
Just as I felt proud walking down the streets of Soho two years ago hearing the tales of LGBTQ+ past and seeing communities present, I feel proud this year safe in my house, still wearing a rather rushed layer of eyeliner and glitter and singing with the Pink Singers.
Like all choirs sadly at the moment we are unable to get together to sing and make music. Physical connection is so important for us as humans and is an intrinsic part of the Pink Singers community. We miss it like crazy, but in these dark times we are finding new ways to connect within and outside our community.
When we heard that Making Music were planning to run virtual concerts we jumped at the chance to take part. We created a watch party and many of our members spent a fun 45 minute concert watching ourselves line up alongside including choirs, a brass band, a steel band and a drumming group.
If you want to scroll straight through to our performance we’re on third at 7:40.
For our song choice we selected Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody. This slowed down version of the song has organically grown to become a Pink Singers standard and a song we go back to over and over again. And like many of the songs we have performed over the years it has a special meaning during these times.
It’s counter intuitive to think you would adapt Whitney’s 80’s dance hit to a sad, reflective song about love but look beneath the fizzy pop, primary colours and you’ll find something unexpected. You’ll find poignancy and a longing for connection. Chris Chambers’ arrangement with its clashing and beautiful harmonies is only complete when we have every voice part included, when we are all there singing together. It seems to be as edifying to listen to as it is fun to sing.
I Wanna Dance, slowed down like this is a reminder of the struggle of individual isolation and the promise that sharing this sadness together makes us a bit less alone.
In the concert we are joined by other choirs and groups including a steel band and a brass band. It’s a fun way to spend 45 minutes and to feel part of the wider musical community finding ways to connect online.
Making Music will be running these events on a fortnightly basis. Subscribe to their YouTube channel if you are interested in watching other videos and live events.