This year we are supporting London Friend. They are the UK’s oldest LGBT charity supporting the health and mental well-being of the LGBT community in and around London.
Throughout the year we will be raising awareness of this fabulous charity and the great work they do. We will also be collecting donations for them at our concerts and events, so please look for their donation buckets.
Friday 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.
In January 2016, we released an album of tailor-made arrangements and raised money for Diversity Role Models and The Albert Kennedy Trust. The Pink Singers’ fourth album, By Special Arrangement, showcases the performing and arranging talent that the choir has developed over its 33-year history.
We’re thrilled to have been able to make this album a reality, through the help of those who supported our Crowdfunding campaign in December 2015, which supported Diversity Role Models and TheAlbert Kennedy Trust. Both charities do tremendous work helping young LGBT people in need.
Arrangers & composers Chris Chambers, Richard Thomas, Andy Mitchinson, Michael Derrick, Naomi Berwin, Murray Hipkin, Simon Pearson
Artistic team David Baxter, Artistic Director Murray Hipkin, Musical Director John Flinders, Accompanist Damien Kennedy, Assistant Producer
Mark Winter, Johnathon Finlay, Ian Stephenson, Guy Keith-Miller, Jay Hirst, Paul Lenz, Colinne, Ivan Benjamin Roets, Helen Drew, Jeremy Donovan, Simon Pearson, Louisa Quinn, Oskar Marchock, Michelle , Gareth Williams , Gill, Nicola Swann, Tanya Wright, Ellie, Gary Davidson-Guild, Ian, Jana & Benjy xx, Sam Mason, Sally-Anne Smith, Caroline Allan, Martin Brophy MBE, Kate, Adrian Ryder, Angie Gayle, Jackie, Ragnar Veigar Guðmundsson, David, Emma Donovan, Cass, Frances Bowen, Claire Lawton , Carolynn BigMomma Briggs, Jessica, Naomi Berwin, Ruth T, Hazel Viveash, Julie Ann Pope, Michael Mann, Ian Faulkner, Jim & Carole Oliver, Zoe Johannes, Barry Dowling, cat tucker, IaconCity, Philip Welch, Zoe B, Alexander Clifton-Melhuish, Mina Candy, Timur Charles, Paul Rumbelow, Amy Wilman, Rachel D, Milton Jolin, Alex Rainford, Sonia Rumbelow, Bruce Chambers, Caroline Miller, Marcus Gomez, Mary Dunn, Rachel Sparks, Camilla.i, manarh, Eddie O’Sullivan, Linda Harley Gillespie, Peter Masters, Tracey Button, Oliver Gilbody, Georges & Charlotte, Simon, Ellie, Sigurlaug B. Arngrímsdóttir, Alwyn Tan, Claire-Lou Sankey, Susan Rudy, Ricky and Liz, Dave Cooper, Kate Sandars, Stephen and Julie Drew, Kelly Taylor, PennyFaith, Michael Mckenna, Adrian Scottow, Mark Donovan, Esther MacInnes, Matt Overall, Hilary Perchard, nicky, Jenny Cousins, Susannah Colgate, Yasi Mak, Rafa Vigata Solano, Tom D, Michael Dann, H. Swift, Simon Harrison, Philip Engleheart, Charly Milton, Karin Read & Lucy Barker, Paul Truesdale, Ali Doyle, David Baxter, Penny Langridge, Joshua Whelan, Iain Reeves , Chris, Jess Talmage, Pouneh Mortazavi, Chris Chambers, Liang Wee, Ben Park, Charlie Gadeken, Eric brown, Emelda Nicholroy, Julie and Jed Whelan, Tex G. Beck, Bill Majrowski, Simon Wilkinson, Roger & Kathy Wilman, Louise Thomas, Richard Greer, Mike Baxter, Rosie, Tim and Tony, The Stefan Magdalinski and Kay Chung Fundation, Jerome De Henau, Hsien Chew, Rod Thomas, Murray Hipkin, MCJ, Paul A Young, Kirsten Pulley, John Flinders, Robin Summerhill, Sue K, Graham & Anne Pearson, Stormy Bubbles, Lynne Michelle Nicholls, Jan Pimblett, Philip Rescorla, Cass
The Pinkies are taking to the stage at the historic Spitalfields Market, East London on Sunday 7th December to raise funds for Get Connected, the UK’s only helpline service dedicated to under 25s. One of our altos, Rachel is also a Get Connected Helpline Officer. Here she explains why the cause is so important to her and how she’s lucky to be able to combine two of her passions.
“Wooohoo it’s nearly Christmas! Or bah humbug the Christmas lights are up… kind of depends on how you feel about the festive season. It comes at us from all angles whether we like it or not, but many of us will enjoy some aspect of the occasion or the silliness that Christmas brings. There are some people that will find this time of year particularly hard – maybe because they are homeless on the streets and the cold has become too much, or the family arguments get worse, or the feelings of isolation are increased by everyone else seeming to be having a great time.
That’s why a helpline like Get Connected is so important – open 365 days of the year 1pm-11pm – the volunteers listen and support young people up to the age of 25 to discuss what they are going through and then look for specialist services that may be able to help them further. This year The Pink Singers have decided to support this vital charity at the Connected Christmas event at Spitalfields Market Fun Day on Sunday 7th December for an afternoon of carols and Christmas themed craft activities for all the family.
I am privileged to work for Get Connected and sing with the Pinkies and It’s amazing to be able to bring together two of my passions like this and raise money for such a brilliant cause! Get Connected helped connect more than 150,000 young people in crisis to the support they so desperately needed last year and the demand for our service just keeps on growing. I’d like to say a huge thank you to my fellow singers for giving up their time to raise such vital cash for this fantastic charity”.
Richard Greer, Chair of the Pink Singers, adds:
We’re really excited to be joining forces with Get Connected this festive season – it’s a chance to do something we love for such a good cause!
You can join in the festivities from 11am-4pm it is free admission but all donations are welcome and will go directly to Get Connected. Find out more at www.getconnected.org.uk
As the UK’s longest-serving LGBT choir, many of our members have been directly affected by HIV/AIDS, so when pop sensation Bright Light Bright Light suggested that we release a charity single together for World AIDS Day we jumped at the chance.
You can listen to a taster on the SoundCloud stream below, and whilst the single is released on November 24th you can pre-order now so please do. At least 20p from each download will go to the Elton John AIDS foundation. Have a listen and let us know what you think in the comments.
Simon and Hsien have written a bit about how the collaboration came about…
Simon: I think the first time I saw Bright Light Bright Light live was at Glastonbury festival back in 2007 (then performing as Rod Thomas). I’ve been a big fan since, following his work, seeing his performances in London and following his recent move to New York from afar.
One night at a rehearsal of one of our spin off groups Barberfellas, I played one of his songs to Hsien, who then got in touch to suggest we might work together…
Hsien: I’ve been following Bright Light Bright Light for a while now because I love his brand of electronic music. It always occurred to me that combining his considerable vocal talents with those of the Pink Singers would be a collaboration made in heaven, so you can imagine my excitement when Rod said ‘yes’ to the suggestion. I was even more thrilled when he made an offer to record a charity single together for World AIDS Day to raise funds for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Through singing with the Pink Singers I am well aware how devastating a diagnosis HIV/AIDS can be. In the late 80s the choir was based at the London Lighthouse, a hospice for those with AIDS, and has many stories of friends who were lost there. Even now we have members living with HIV who continue to feel stigmatized outside the choir, so it was a natural fit for us to perform on this single.
Simon: putting the track together was easy – I rustled up some simple vocal arrangements together really quickly, we secured some space at a local school, and about 25 of us from the choir came together to record the choral parts. It was great fun, and we all left with the anthem firmly lodged in our brains…
Hsien: hearing our voice parts being laid down one late summer Saturday afternoon was incredible, and listening to them get expertly mixed into the final track you now hear was truly eye-opening. ‘Everything I Ever Wanted’ has a great upbeat sound, but at the same time there lurks a melancholy tinge; it is that fusion of celebration and regret which makes it so irresistible.”
It is has been a privilege collaborating with a talented singer-songwriter like Rod, and a pleasure hearing the final work come together so brilliantly. We hope that ‘Everything I Ever Wanted’ will raise much needed funds for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and help support their frontline programmes of work helping those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.