Joyful Noise

I'm running through the streets of Soho in stilettos to catch the late train home, feeling like Cinderella as she left the ball just before the clock struck and she returned to rags. I had been to the Freedom Bar on Wardour Street and I certainly felt free! I had sung, danced and drank and was exhilarated. I reach the underground and sit smiling as I travel to Euston. I change my shoes to pumps, with a 'don't care' attitude, but I do check in case there's a prince charming to leave my high-heeled slipper to find. Then I run again and just make my connection. On the train home, relieved I will still see my daughters before they sleep, I remove my red ribbon in case anyone I know sees, and it's back to reality, to poor cinders and commuting in silence.

Oh how I want to sing! Sing loud and proud, Roar again! But the show is over and now I have to wait till season 3 of the choir sessions for PLWHIV. My Thursday evenings previously full of laughter seem so quiet now, without the practice and preparation for what was a 'Spectacular Night'. Staff at Freedom said this was one of the most inspiring events they have ever had at the venue, and I'm sure they have had plenty! An audience member shared after the show "Joyful Noise" is such an appropriate name for this choir. They really created a joyful atmosphere and space where everyone could feel accepted and appreciated. It was very creative and heart-warming, I had tears in my eyes and big smile on my face and I had the best dance!

And so did we! Doing the Dougie in synchronicity and singing 'lean on me' took practice, and members with dyspraxia, or 'body dyslexia', were challenged, but we pulled it off. Yes we made mistakes, but we also blew those pipes and belted out the tunes, a full set! I have written before about the solidarity I have felt with the choir, but this show was more. It was exhausting and exhilarating. We didn't have the changing rooms and makeup artists as before, we shared sprays and mascara and stage fright in the toilets. We stumbled and squeezed on to the stage and sweated in the spotlight. Suzan the choir master/task master, gorgeous as always, guided us through, with good humour. Paul and Marc, both musically brilliant, backed us throughout. Solos were sang and supported and then the whole club, staff and audience joined in, some even came up on stage, so that we all sang in sweet unison.

"We are unity and we are unstoppable" as Conchita Wurst said after winning a slightly bigger singing show which was no more glamorous than ours! And following the fundraising efforts of Marion Wadibia I believe we will be unstoppable. Over £1000 was raised on the night, which secured the funding for season 3 and any more donations will be most welcome. Contact NAZ Project London so we can continue, grow and put on another concert.

"I shall sing, as long as I live, as long as I live, I shall sing", and singing with this choir helps me live longer. It's not just the endorphins and happiness that helps, the breathing exercises have improved members' asthma, the dancing has improved mobility, and of course it's all one big confidence boost! So much so, I have agreed to be photographed to promote the choir on websites and local and national press, which is a big step for me personally. Was it the promise of a professional photo shoot that encouraged me to step up and fight stigma, or because I believe that Joyful Noise is worth all the support I can give? It's both and also because I want to be 'belle of the ball' again!

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Martha Lang's picture

Mel, thanks so much for this uplifting post! I have also found that singing is a wonderful way to get me out of myself and connect to my community. I sing shape note which is a form of acapella hymn singing where everyone takes turns leading the group. The songs are charged with the experience of all of the ancestors who sang before us and therefore the singing is transformative. However, doing the Dougie is not quite part of the repertoire ;). Here is a link to the tune from Marcia Griffiths that I believe you quoted in your blog so that we can all enjoy it. Keep writing! Keep singing!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drVu-EVWtJk

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