Singing makes you happy!

Jan05

If you are need of a January lift, what better way than to get singing!

Scientific studies have shown that singing releases endorphins (the brain’s natural feel-good chemicals), and that choral singing in particular can have a dramatic and positive effect on people’s lives – increasing confidence, helping people get out and socialise, and even reducing anxiety and depression.

So don’t be shy – come and give it a go! Check out our Facebook page for details of this term’s free taster sessions in Brighton and Hassocks: https://www.facebook.com/SouloftheCityChoir/

Lights.. camera.. showtime!

Dec16

How quickly has Christmas come around! And with only one more sleep till the big Christmas concert, excitement is building among the Soul of the City singers.

This year, we will be singing an assortment of tunes – old, new and festive – in the majestic All Saints Church in Hove.

And don’t forget that the new term starts on 10 January in Brighton and 11 January in Hassocks. If you’ve not sung with us before, why not come and give it a whirl!

Support Act for our Christmas gig announced!

Dec02

We’re delighted and excited to be able to announce that our support act for our Christmas gig this year is the very lovely Mara Simpson.

Having almost completed her European tour – including Kaltern Pop Festival, alongside Bear’s Den and The Slow Show – British songwriter and independent artist, Mara Simpson will be giving a very special performance supporting us at All Saints Church, Brighton on 17th December 2016, raising money for Sussex Nightstop.

Mara has captivated audiences around the world with her soulful melodies, rich lyricism, unassuming charm and wicked laugh. Quoted by New Zealand Musician Magazine as ‘Soulful, sincere, warm, rich and intimate. The songwriting is stunning.’

London born to a Kenyan family, Mara has spent periods of time in Wellington (New Zealand) and Berlin. Her songs reflect her eclectic background and draw the listener close into these worlds.

Her most recent album, ‘Our Good Sides’, was recorded and produced by Tim Bidwell (producer of Kate Walsh and FINK) and features guest vocals from Olly Knights of Turin Brakes, Ben Ottewell of Gomez, and cousin, Courtney Simpson. Created in Clockwork Owl Studios – also Tim’s living room – the album was woven into being with old compressors, vintage microphones, and many cups of Yorkshire tea. Every song is real, warm, and sung from the heart.

You can listen to Mara’s music on Spotify here

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“Big, soulful vocals play out over a blend of folk and blues, while she uses her unique background to inspire her songs.” For Folks Sake

“Rooted in a tradition of superior blues and folk, the track simmers with baleful attitude without ever overdoing it, Simpson‘s rich, sonorous vocal poised with ease atop a swelling, dauntless instrumental.” Get Into This

“Simpson’s vocals and compositional style are reminiscent to Marianne Faithful, Joni Mitchell, and Tracy Chapman. You could even say she’s similar to a modern day, contemporary, female Leonard Cohen. I am a die hard Leonard Cohen fan so I realise this is a big claim to make. (The album is) a lilting compilation that ebbs and flows through a range of emotions and scenarios carrying the heart print of Simpson throughout.” Goodbammsho

“By the end we are chanting along to the chorus “We all feel – the same way – you cannot divide us – we are holding on,” which makes us feel free and empowered. Pretty impressive for just over three minutes.” Pancakes and Whiskey

“Simpson’s captivating voice pays respects to a sincere form of music, arguably fitting amongst sirens such as Nora Jones and Annie Lennox.” The Music Manuel

Remembering a legend

Nov16

So last week saw the sad passing of Leonard Cohen – poet and songwriter – at the age of 82.

Leonard Cohen was called “the high priest of pathos” and the “godfather of gloom” – but his 60 year prolific career as a poet and musician gave rise to a legendary body of material.

Often prone to depression, his witty, charming and self-deprecating manner – not to mention his black humour – was reflected in his lyrics.

Despite a paralysing fear of playing live, he toured his albums extensively around the world. Those concerts included a remarkable appearance at a highly-charged Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.

The crowd was volatile and Cohen was following an electrifying performance by Jimi Hendrix, but the quiet folk singer won them over by telling a hushed anecdote about childhood trips to the circus.

“There was one thing at the circus that happened that I always used to wait for,” he told the audience of 600,000.
“I don’t want to impose on you, this isn’t like a sing-along… but there was one moment when a man would stand up and say, ‘Would everybody light a match so we can locate one another?’

“Could I ask you, each person, to light a match, so that I could see where you all are? Could each of you light a match, so that you’ll sparkle like fireflies, each at your different heights? I would love to see those matches flare.”

The intimate anecdote, and Cohen’s subsequent performance are remembered as one of the defining moments of the whole festival.

The Brighton choir’s performance of “Hallelujah” at next month’s Christmas concert will be especially poignant…. RIP Leonard.

Who is a Soul of the City Choir member? And why do they love it!

Nov10

For this week’s blog, we are featuring a profile about one of lovely singers Katy Jo. We will be introducing more of our wonderful members over the next few weeks….

“Hello, my name is Katy Jo, and I sing with the Brighton choir every Tuesday evening.

I got a work contract in Brighton in 2014, which was initially for a few months. I had previously lived and worked in a high-pressure job in London, and wanted to make the most of my free time by doing something fun and different.

I got a flyer for Soul of the City Choir through my door, and as I didn’t know that many people in Brighton, I thought I would give it a go, as it would be a great opportunity to meet new people.

I turned up to one of the sessions in the winter term, but didn’t know what section I should sit in! I joined the Alto 2 guys, and immediately felt welcome. I had played music before (including the trumpet) but had not really sung since I was at school.

I instantly loved being part of the choir and when I got a permanent job in Brighton, I just kept coming back! I enjoy the sense of community I feel by singing with the choir, and have made lots of new friends – especially within the Alto 2 section, who are all really supportive of each other. I never thought I would be able to sing in public, but my confidence has really grown since I joined and I’m now building up to an audition!

I’m excited about our Christmas gig and I will definitely remain part of the choir in the future. I would encourage anyone to give it a go!”

44 sleeps till the Christmas Concert!

Nov02

The shops are already full of decorations, and you might be starting to plan you festive menu… and incredibly there are only 44 sleeps till the Christmas gig! That means we only have another 6 rehearsals to perfect our sparkly sing-songs.

This week, the Brighton choir ran through ‘Hallelujah’, and are tantalisingly close to finishing ‘Like a Prayer’.

Hassocks are busy working on ‘A Little Respect’ and ‘Royals’.

It might be a little early to start working on our festive tunes, but it wont be long!

From next week, tickets are open to all on a first come, first serve basis, so don’t forget to buy, buy buy! At every gig we like to raise awareness for and support a local charity. This term’s charity will be Sussex Nightstop who work with young people who are at risk of becoming homeless by providing emergency accommodation in the homes of volunteer hosts. For more information on this really worthy cause see their website https://uk.depaulcharity.org/sussex-nightstop

Hassocks learn a little respect! And some half term suggestions….

Oct20

So for this week’s choral blog news, we are looking at a song that the Hassocks choir will be debuting at the Christmas concert.

Hassocks are currently tackling ‘A Little Respect’ – originally released by Erasure in 1988, the song reached number 4 in the UK charts and features heavy synths and falsetto vocals.

‘A Little Respect’ reached a whole new generation when US band Wheatus covered the song in 2001. They went one better than Erasure and peaked at number 3 in the charts.

Let’s see how Hassocks get on with those famous falsettos!

Now sad news choir comrades, there is no choir next week as it’s half term. However, this does not need to stop you getting your weekly choir fix. You can continue to practice your parts using Dropbox (which we know you are doing every single day already…) and if you fancy doing some group practice, why not arrange to meet up with a few other choir members and go over your parts? If your vocal chords are in need of a rest, then you can always see your choir buddies for a medicinal drink to keep the Autumn chills at bay.

Have a great half term choir buddies, and see you soon!

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Oct05

It’s week three of the Autumn term, the leaves are turning and the evenings are drawing in!

This week, the Brighton choir started work on Hallelujah, which is all set to be a stunning acapella version of this moving classic.

The song was first penned by Leonard Cohen, and appeared on his album ‘Various Positions’ in 1984. Cohen reportedly wrote 80 draft verses for ‘Hallelujah’, and the song was subsequently covered by Jeff Buckley in 1994, Rufus Wainwright in 1997, and Alexandra Burke after winning the X Factor in 2008. In fact, over 300 cover version of the song are known, but we are basing our arrangement on the original Cohen version.

The Soul of the City version of Hallelujah is shaping up to sound amazing, and with only just over ten weeks to go until the Christmas gig, look out for loads of us humming the tune around Brighton to make sure we get it spot on!

Here is a little sneak peek of our last rehearsal…

Life is a mystery..

Sep29

Wow people we are sounding so good!

Going to sound so great at All Saints.

And don’t forget to join us for a post choir bevvy at the Eddy!

You’ll get to meet the official choir mascot, Poppy the Jackawawa!

SOTC xx

Feelin’ good – to be back!

Sep22

It was lovely to see so many faces – familiar and new – at rehearsals this week for the start of the autumn term.

We kicked off with two of the songs that will feature at this year’s end of term gig, which will take place at the beautiful All Saints Church in Hove. We won’t give the game away… but there is a clue in the title of this post about one of the songs that we will be singing! It’s sounding pretty impressive after only one week of rehearsals and will no doubt be spine-tingling when sung in the wonderful acoustics of All Saints.

If you want to get involved – fear not! You haven’t missed out. We will be running two more taster sessions in Brighton (on 27 September and 4 October) and also in Hassocks (28 September and 5 October). Go to the ‘Join In’ page to get signed up – we look forward to singing with you!

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