Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The one in which I become a recording star.... oh, and a Guinness World Record holder

Not bad for a Sunday afternoon eh? 

Finally, the days spent driving the children mad with random 'ooh, ooh's' and 'aaahhhs' with the odd 'eh oh'  and 'do doo' thrown in were coming to an end. The dance moves were more or less learnt and I was on the coach to Wembley for Rock Choir Live.

It was amazing, incredible, emotional and lots of other adjectives. I won't go and get too sappy on you, I promise but it was a wonderful experience and one I will remember for a long time. I've been lucky enough to have some great experiences in my life; ballooning over the Masai Mara, standing on the escarpment overlooking the Great Rift Valley, swimming with giant turtles in Barbados, wreck diving in the Caribbean but this was up there with all of them.  If you want to know the real definition of  'a wall of sound' it's  8000 voices singing in harmony - or more or less! Let's not forget my fellow tuneless choir member from earlier posts. When people express surprise at my moving back from France I tell them it's because I want to live my life, not exist in it, and this is what I meant. I want to have these amazing experiences. The 14th July fete couldn't really compare with this, nice though it was. Interestingly there are two other people who are French refugees like myself in the choir and we all felt the same.

We arrived at the Arena at midday.  It was chaos, but happy, expectant chaos.  Hard as we tried, we all got separated in the crowds so just had to hope we would be able to sit together when we got in.  I've only been a choir member for a few months and ours is one of the newest ones to be performing at Wembley. I was the only upper alto on our coach and everyone else was sitting in a different block and so I'd resigned myself to sitting on my own, well, as on my own as I could be among 10,500 people, but by a stroke of luck I found myself being directed to a seat next to Sue, Annette and Lynne from my own choir. Hooray! Safety in numbers and at the very least, more experience members who could push me in the right direction if my swaying and snapping went awry.

The atmoshere was uplifting, exciting and the anticipation was almost palpable.  People waved madly at friends and family, trying to attract their attention, the TV cameras whizzed around filming people for the documentary which comes out next month, microphones were shoved in people's faces for a bit of on the spot reaction and the Mexican Waves came and went with increasing regularity. The posh ones from off of London (as they say in Brizzle) had their iPads charged up ready to catch every moment. I had my ageing Sony point-and-shoot which proved not up to the task as you will discover from the lack of videos taken by my own fair hand.

It seemed hours before the show started, slightly late because an entire choir had been delayed by a road accident just outside London but when it did, it started with a bang. The Rock Choir leaders performed 'Let Me Entertain You'. I think Robbie would have been proud.

I'm not going to give a blow by blow account of what we sang but here are some videos of my favourite moments.


'River Deep Mountain High'

Dancing in the Street

There was much whispering about who the special guests would be. Of course, we hoped for Robbie (Let Me Entertain You), Elton John or George Michael (see later) but instead we got this shower....

A motley collection of Rock Choir widowers, brothers, boyfriends and dads who had been rehearsing in secret to sing for their partners. They were totally fabulous and will no  doubt savour the one day in their lives when they had 8000 women screaming for them. 

The next mystery guests were not so much of a mystery, having been revealed by someone on their Facebook page. It was George Michael and Elton John, Yay 'The Soldiers' who Rock Choir supported on their last tour.

The final mystery guest was a bit of a wild card, an opera singer better known for his irritating television adverts. I was a bit confused as Rock Choir doesn't do any classical singing. When he was announced, there was an audible groan but he turned out to be a very funny man and soon had everyone warming to him. He was, of course, Mr Gio Compare himself, Wynne Evans. - and not nearly as annoying as his alter ego.

On a more serious note, because it wasn't just about having fun, Rock Choir supports two charities, Refuge and Missing People. Martin Houghton Brown, the Chief Executive of  Missing People came on stage first. We'd all previously been handed a poster of a missing person. We were all asked to hold the posters up for a photo opportunity for the charity.  We were told that each year in the UK 120,000 people go missing. Of those the vast majority turn up safely but 10,000 don't. Look around at the choir and audience at Wembley. That's 10,500 people. Just about each one of them represents a person who has gone missing in the UK in the last year. How shocki!ng is that?  As we held our posters up, I imagined how those families must be feeling. It was very emotional, so much so that Mr Houghton Brown had to leave the stage. The photo has been reproduced widely in the local press but sadly a certain French politician with a big ego and stunted willy sense of what is acceptable proved more interesting to the nationals. Bloody Frenchman, always messing things up!

My missing person is Jamie Cheeseman, who went missing in 1993 at the age of 16. For 18 years her family have been wondering what happened to her. Can you imagine?  This is Jamie as she might look today.

Rock Choir has been involved with Refuge for some time. All royalties from our recording of 'Something Inside So Strong', Labi Siffre's anti-apartheid anthem, go to Refuge who have adopted it as their official song. If you don't know the words, read them. We heard that in the UK each week 12 women die as a result of domestic violence, two killed by their partners and the remainder take their own lives. Yet the top four women's charities in the UK receive only a third of the donations of The Donkey Sanctuary. It's a very worthwhile charity but, come on!  Universal Records were going to use the even to record a live version of  'Something Inside So Strong' for the new Rock Choir album. Here it is.

Then we had to sing it without the lead vocals which gave a fantastic idea of the sound the choir was making

So there you have it. I'm officially a recording artist. Oh, and a Guinness World Record holder. Rock Choir became, officially, the largest recording act in the Universe, or maybe it was the UK.

And just to prove it's not all for 'femmes d'un certain age' the Rock Choir Teen choir has been launched and it's hoped that more will be set up over the next few years

Watch out for the soloist in the last song. She got a standing ovation and promptly burst into tears. Recording contract to follow I'm pretty sure.

So, the day was nearly over, there had been laughter, tears... and of course a loony. Sitting next to me. Why me?  There were 10,500 people in Wembley Arena and she was sitting next to me, invading my personal space, giving me her life story, a running commentary on her parents' progress from Brizzle to Wembley. "So where are your choir?" I asked hopefully.  "I can't find any of them" she replied. Not bloody surprised I thought rather uncharitably.

It was time to finish in Rock Choir tradition with a hearty rendition of Joyful, Joyful which had sounded anything but joyful at our last rehearsal.  Still, one thing I learned during the day is that when you sing with 7,999 others you can't hear yourself, never mind anyone else so our error-strewn version wouldn't really matter.  As it was it sounded pretty good, even if I do say so myself.

But not only that, I've had a horrible, annoying cough for the past 7 years (yes I do mean years). No doctors have managed to cure it but after 4 months of Rock Choir it's almost gone. So on top of everything, Rock Choir can heal the sick!

So how did your weekend go?

Ooops, I forgot our Robbie Williams moment....


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

How amazing all this sounds to have been. We cannot really imagine what it must have been like amongst so many thousands of participants, but we are sure that you will remember it and recall it for ever as the historic occasion which it most certainly was.

We were most encouraged to read that there is also a movement for younger choir members. Feeling part of a community and contributing to it are such important parts of growing into a socially responsible adult, so it is good news that young people are being attracted to the cause.

Congratulations on your choir's achievements, and such bad luck about the loony. There is, as you say, always one!

the fly in the web said...

That sounded super...and, loony apart, you obviously had a great time, not to speak of a miracle cure.
Mr. Fly took one look at that and announced he''d rather buy me litres of cough mixture than hear me sing ...and he has a point.

The two charities sound really worthwhile...at a guess, not big enough to have huge office staff numbers swallowing the money

As to that annoying Frenchman...I've sent you a youtube thingy that Sarah of St. Bloggie sent me.



Steve said...

Go you! Wish I did exciting things like this!

Wylye Girl said...

You can Steve, you don't even need to be able to sing!

Fly, naughty Mr Fly, I bet you sing like an angel! Thanks for the Ode to DSK. Hilarious!

Wylye Girl said...

Jane and Lance, I totally agree about the young choir. Singing together, even badly, can be an uplifting experience that bonds people together. There isn't enough for young people to do these days and the more occupied they are, the less likely they are to go astray. At least that's what I think

Curry Queen said...

So you attract loonies too! They always make a beeline for me. We have a slight plumbing crisis at Crap Cottage, thanks to the Shah (wouldn't you know it?) so I may have to get Mr Childs' phone number off you!

About Last Weekend said...

Wow this is absolutely incredible, what a wonderful feat of so many bodies and voices and so much fun. I can really feel the excitement through you. Plus I love that line of yours, you came back from France because you wanted to live your life, not exist in it. This really was living!

Michelloui | The American Resident said...

Wow, I can imagine this must have been quite an experience! I also think it's pretty cool that the guys got in on the act in secret, thats sweet.

Have just 'discovered' your blog, enjoying looking around--Im a new follower!

auntiegwen said...

What a fantastic day and I'm slightly hurt you thought I was a loony, I was only trying to be friendly :) only kidding, but I am exactly the same I attract the loopers every time too

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

Oh this is fabulous! I can feel the excitement through your words. Makes me miss singing such a lot.

Sarah said...

Sounds a fantastic day and in aid of some very worthy causes. Singing in a choir is amazing, and when you get together in those numbers it's almost a religious experience (I sang the Messiah En Masse at the Albert Hall - full it was!).

Glad you liked the vid, too. :)

Wylye Girl said...

CQ, invariably! I can't vouch for Michael's plumbing abilities but he plays a mean piano!

ALW, it was great to be part of something so special. As for life, a few months of sunshine and cheap wine with the odd village fete thrown in may be enough for some, and I'm not knocking it, but for me it never was. Rock Choir first came to public notice the week we moved to France. I remember thinking 'damn, I'd love to do that'. At least in the end I did!

Wylye Girl said...

Michelloui, hello and welcome. Thanks for following. I have returned the favour and look forward to having a browse round your lovely blog. The men were a firm favourite. They did such a great job and how they kept it a secret I don't know, although a few of us did wonder at a banner that was being waved saying 'Glen's Men are Rock Gods' and we knew there are no all male choirs.

Wylye Girl said...

Auntie, hang on a minute. Just let me get a closer look at your profile pic..... No, it wasn't you but I sooo wish it was. We would have had great laugh. Perhaps if we sat next to each other then loonies would have nowhere to go.

Trish, it was fabulous. Will you go back to singing? I find it really therapeutic

Wylye Girl said...

Sarah,two very worthwhile causes indeed. Both really struck a chord with us all and we are looking at lots of fundraising ideas. I sang in the Albert Hall too, as a teenager Sth my school choir. We were the 'heavenly voices' in a performance of 'The Planets Suite' with Sir Georg Solti. It was my first experience of mass singing. I also sang on stage in a chorus with Luciano Pavarotti. I love the clas
!sical stuff but Rock Choir is just great fun

Elaine said...

Congratulations! It seems like it was a great evening, and what a fabulous atmosphere.

I, too, am a world record holder... I was in the record breaking Kazoo 'orchestra' which played in the Albert Hall in aid of Comic Relief in March this year. Just under 4,000 people playing The Dambusters on the Kazoo!!

Wylye Girl said...

Elaine, from one Guinness Record Holder to another! Wow, I'd love to have heard your Kazoo orchestra. After three, goggles on.... one... two.. three.... Da na na na na-na-naa, Da na na na na na-na-naaa.....

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