A favourite quote and a way by which to approach life.

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Friday, 4 January 2008

A ray of sunshine

When I was thirteen I joined Newcastle's premier youth choir, Swing Bridge Singers, whose 'uniform' includes a bright yellow t-shirt, and whose ethos is one of fun, laughter, music, inclusivity, friendship, and six-part harmony (if you can include that in an ethos). There were (and still are) no auditions, no membership fee, no prerequisite that you should be able to read music, no parents' committee, and no register. It ran/runs off the enthusiasm of its members and its amazing choir master Andrew Scott, or Scottee as he's always been known.

Swing Bridge Singers was six months old when I joined, but last weekend we had a reunion celebration for its 20th anniversary, held at The Sage Gateshead. There was a single rehearsal for current members and ex-members on Saturday (29th December), followed by a party in the evening, and then the concert during the afternoon of Sunday 30th December. The first half of the first half of the concert was the current choir, who sounded fabulous, and whose joy of the music and the experience of Swing Bridge you could see on their faces and hear in the songs.

The a capella group Black Voices have done some things with Swing Bridge Singers in its recent history, and with Scottee in other musical capacities beyond SBS. Black Voices are also celebrating their 20th anniversary and agreed to take part in the concert last weekend, so they comprised the second half of the first half of it (if you get what I mean). Their collective background, as far as I know (check their website for more information), is that they are a group of nine black women based in Birmingham (UK) who perform in quintets rather than a nonet. They have extensive experience of singing gospel and spiritual music, and this is often reflected in their performances. They are currently singing many songs that highlight the memory of the British slave trade, and are celebrating the bicentenary of its abolition. They produce a deeply rich sound, and their music has both a passion and a zest to it that I've rarely seen.

The second half of Sunday's concert comprised a mass choir of current members of Swing Bridge Singers and its ex-members. Sadly only about 250 of the 450 who've sung in the yellow glory of Swing Bridge were able to make it, but we did have ex-members come back to Newcastle for the concert from Spain, Ecuador and Tasmania, such is the impact the choir has had on people and the place that it holds in their hearts that they should travel such great distances for a reunion! I was one of the few who had very little distance to travel, but Scottee and the Swing Bridge Singers are very special to me, and I have some fantastic memories of my years with them. I had some tough times through my teenage years, but Swing Bridge Singers kept a spark of life inside me and probably saved me from myself. I hope that doesn't sound too melodramatic ... it's not meant to ... it's just how things were, and merely a reflection on the special thing that SBS is and the special person that Scottee is (and he's still a good friend).

So Sunday's concert was great fun, brought back some wonderful memories, was very yellow as we all had special Swing Bridge Singers 20th anniversary polo shirts, slightly nerve-wracking (we sold out!), and it was great to sing the old songs again and meet up with past friends again. I'm waiting with great excitement for my copy of the CD of Sunday's concert. I'm told that the combined choir made a great sound, and whilst I have recordings of some of the songs by their original artists, it's always great to listen to a piece of music and remember taking part in the creation of the recording.

Signing off with warm memories.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Becky, its wonderful reading your interesting blog. You right with such flaire and creativity. I hope you get the chance one day to write a book. Caroline xxx

Anna Kenolty said...

Hi Becky
I found your blog through searching "swing bridge singers" - I am a recently-ex member and also sang in the reunion concert. It made me so happy to find someone else whose life has been touched by Scottee and the choir, which was the bright spot in my week for two very long years. I really hope we get the CDs soon! I can't wait. Are you a member of the swing bridge facebook group? If not, do join!

I read the rest of your blog too - I felt kind of nosy, but you're an inspiring kind of person, and I thought since you've put it up here you probably wouldn't mind. It sounds like you're using every gift god gave you, and working through the struggles he's given you too. I send you my prayers and my love tonight, and since we've sung together I'm sure they'll reach you ^_^

BeckyG said...

Hi Anna,

Thanks for your comments :o) It's great to hear from another ex-SBSer, and someone who has similar fondness for the amazing man of Scottee. I've been wondering about gently 'reminding' him about the CDs of the concert, because as fantastic as he is, we all know that organisation isn't his strong point ;oP I'm impatient too and want to hear the concert!

I am a member of the Swing Bridge facebook group, though I haven't been on there very much recently. I must have another gander at it.

There's no problem at all about looking around my blog - that's what it's here for. Thank you for your kind comments about being 'an inspiring kind of person'. This is something that quite a number of people have said to me over recent years, but I find it weird ... I understand what they mean, and I know that the life I lead is extraordinary in that it's not what most people experience, but it's ordinary for me so feels strange that it should be inspirational. I guess it's a mindset though, and over the past several years I've made the decision to make the most of what I have when I have it, which is perhaps something that many forget to do. I dunno, I'm guessing.

Thank you too for your love and prayers - they're always appreciated. The world would be a very dark place without both of these things, and knowing that some are coming my way always brightens my day.

Becky.