Mixtape Magic

Samantha Tan, Pinkie newbie for our 35th Birthday season, reflects on a season of love, joy, music and Pinkie Magic!

My contact with the Pink Singers started in January this year as an observer when my friend Phil (bass and extraordinary human being) asked if I’d volunteer as backstage crew for his LGBT choir’s concert. As I stood backstage observing the maelstrom of A Night at the Movies: The Sequel chaos and infectious excitement from the singers, a few sentiments distilled themselves. One: They’re all LGBT (news of the day!). Two: They’re having a whale of a time. Three: They’re stinkin’ good!

Sam with John, our accompanist

The notion of an LGBT choir is altogether foreign to me – I grew up in Singapore, where LGBT visibility exists primarily where you know to look for the signs and seek it out. I came out comfortably at 16 and never sought out the local LGBT community. I felt different from my circle of straight friends, but I was happy being an outlier.

At the same time, I had sung in amateur and professional choirs for 10 years up until I was 18. By that point, I had firmly fallen out of love with choral singing. So call it serendipity, or irony, but I call it “Pinkie Magic” I had certainly inhaled that I soon found myself nervously standing in line for my Pink Singers audition this season and wearing my desire to join the Pinkies blazenly on my sleeve.

Sam sings the solo for This is Me in Munich

This whirlwind of a season promised particular excitement as the choir was travelling to Munich for the Various Voices LGBT Choir Festival. My previous choral experience had sent me on similar overseas trips, so I knew what an experience it would be. Munich didn’t disappoint: Watching other choirs performing with such pride, looking around at the crowds knowing that everyone present was at least a strong LGBT ally, having John Flinders (our regular accompanist) conducting us in a concert so well-received we got 2 standing ovations. Lastly, making friends with choirs from politically dissenting countries. These experiences were humbling and inspiring; the latter reminding me that us singing together is a beautifully reckless act. Even as external forces threaten to crush us, we hold our arms open in love.

The concert was upon us in no time at all. Powering through a long tech, I soon found myself pinning on my pink rose, slicking on one last coat of lipstick and step-digging to our opening song Freedom (90). The pre-concert jitters melted away at the sight of the cheering audience. As we closed with a rousing arrangement of What’s Up with our guest choir, Spectrum, I could scarcely believe my first Pinkies concert was over.

Choreo at Science Museum Lates

I came into my first rehearsal with an inkling that there was something about The Pink Singers. As I bid this season goodbye, and put away crinkled sheet music, I am convinced: The Pink Singers truly are special. And I get to be a part of it.

What would be on your Mix-Tape?

On Saturday June 16th The Pink Singers will be singing songs from our 35th Birthday mix-tape. What songs would be on your favourite compilation? 


We thought we’d take the opportunity to introduce you to a handful of the Pinkies Management Committee – those stalwart volunteers who keep the Pinkie machine motoring forward. We asked them what three songs they’d have on their mix-tape, and why.



Scissor Sisters, I don’t feel like dancin’. This reminds me of going to a gay night at Black Sheep Bar in Croydon in my 20s with my best friends and dancing all night, on a Wednesday night. It was so fun and I was just getting to see how fun being gay could be!
George Michael and Elton John. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me. Before I got together with my girlfriend I started singing this one day walking along a mountain road in Taiwan and she joined in with me singing the harmony. I loved singing with her and I’ve never looked back!
I Choir, written specially for and sung by the Pink Singers. If you haven’t heard it, it’s on our CD “By Special Arrangement” so go – buy it now!



Orbital – ‘Halcyon’.  Orbital are my favourite band ever, got into them around aged 16 when I discovered ambient and electro music. This song is a piece of genius and makes me smile every time.
bis – ‘Eurodisco’.  This song reminds me of dancing my pants off to their gigs so many times across the years, its such a pop tune! Hopefully I will get the chance to dance at many more gigs to come in  future.
Marvin Gaye – ‘Abraham, Martin & John’.  This song reminds me of my mum, she loved Motown and I’d always sing and dance to their albums with her in our house. She brought so much love and light to my life, and like the song says ‘the good die young’. Never forgotten you Mum.



Forever & Ever (Demis Roussos). I threatened to sing this to my fiance on our wedding day, he HATES it!
Can you Feel it (The Jacksons). A disco classic that you cannot help but get up and dance to

Wow (Kylie Minogue) Love this song and it should have been a bigger hit! The Pinkies should definitely do a version!



We Can Do Better Than That, from The Last 5 Years by Jason Robert Brown. I could have chosen any song from this musical, or frankly anything by JRB. I love the concept of this show and the perfect way it’s played out.
Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill. When the choir went to Manchester last August for Hand in Hand, while everyone else was at the launch party I went to see this musical at the Opera House (a much better night out by my standards 😉 ). I already knew I loved Sheridan Smith (leading the cast) but I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with the show. This show recurs throughout the show, firstly as her wanting to impress her boss, and then her husband to be, and then finally as a show of female independence.
Into The Words, from Forbidden Broadway (sensing a theme yet?!). I was lucky enough to play the clarinet for an amateur dramatic production of Into The Woods which, unfortunately, and controversially, cemented my dislike for Sondheim musicals. This song provided my with some relief during a long week!


More coming next week!  In the meantime, now is the time to snap up a ticket for our Mix-Tape concert in June.  Get them now – they’re hot!

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!