Pop Chorus is truly a phenomenon that is hard to explain.
But, I am going to try.
Back in April of this year, I wrote a post about singing. In that post, I spoke about joining a choir but I had only been in it for three months at that point.
But I already knew I was involved in something unique – I just didn’t know how unique Pop Chorus was at that time. The choir’s musical director was Yula Andrews and she had decided to expand the choir by forming another group, which was the group I joined in January 2017.
We are one big choir but we rehearse in five different groups, coming together for shows and big rehearsals.
Three months after I wrote the post about Pop Chorus, we performed a sell-out show – Lose Yourself In the Music – at a 700 seat venue in Ipswich and I was starting to see what an unstoppable force Yula Andrews is when it comes to Pop Chorus.
Pop Chorus played their biggest venue to date with a choir made up of people who ‘can’t sing’.
And it was a sell-out. People were queuing to get in and there was not a single seat left.
Can Pop Chorus members sing? Oh yes.
Individually, many of us, myself included, would not consider ourselves to be singers. If I had not been coerced by an old friend, I would never ever have thought about singing in front of anyone, never mind on stage in a large theatre!
But Pop Chorus does not tolerate people saying ‘I can’t sing’. Yula believes in everyone. The only difference between Yula and Gareth Malone is that he has a TV show and she doesn’t – YET.
The result is a group of people who, together, make the most amazing sounds singing pop songs in four and sometimes five part harmony.
Big as the sell-out concert was, Pop Chorus, I was sure, still had something even bigger to come.
Those of us who took part in that performance will never forget it. The relentless rehearsals, the learning of song after song, memorising lyrics, practicing parts at home day after day, the build up to the show, the jostling for space in dressing rooms, the camaraderie on and off-stage and then finally, the intense pride and joy we all felt as we took several bows after the most incredible night of our lives.
The whole experience was multi-layered, rich in the warmth of being with people who share a love of music and who trust each other enough to bare their voices week after week.
And all driven forward by one person – Yula, although it must be said that Yula does have two ‘wing men’ – voice singing coaches Jen Leyton and Becky Alexander who lead two of the groups.
But big as this sell-out concert was, it didn’t drive me back to the keyboard to write part two of my thoughts on the choir.
I even interviewed Yula and much as I loved what she told me about what drives her, I still wasn’t ready to write part two.
Something bigger was coming – of that I felt sure, but I had no idea what it was.
Straight after the concert, I, like many other people fell into a strange malaise. Pop Chorus was over for the summer and many of us felt lost.
A few people got a group together to continue meeting up throughout the summer while Pop Chorus was on a break but I retreated back into the world I had been in before joining Pop Chorus.
I was, I told myself, relieved it was over. I’d done it, I’d had the experience, I’d met some wonderful people but it was over and now it was time to get back to work and stop all this frivolity.
But then came the first whispering of the ‘big thing’ I was waiting for without knowing what it was.
Yula wanted us to make a CD to raise money for our community partner, St. Elizabeth’s Hospice.
And so, the ‘Always’ project was born and a new chapter in the life of Yula’s Pop Chorus began.
It was an ambitious project but by September, everything was in place for it to go ahead – Yula had secured the services of renowned music producer Ian Curnow, who was from the Stock Aitken and Waterman stable, producing hit after hit for the likes of Kylie Minogue, Talk Talk and the Pet Shop Boys.
An original song had been written using lyrics generated by St. Elizabeth Hospice patients and it was about to form the centre point of the most ambitious project Pop Chorus had ever undertaken.
Pop Chorus members were stunned – we were going to record a CD – a proper CD with a proper producer!
Us people who ‘could not sing’ had sold out a concert and now we were going to make a CD.
As soon as summer was over, we were rushed back into rehearsals a week earlier than choir should have resumed and the hard work began.
Five leads were auditioned, and they went into the studio of Ian Curnow to record the lead part of Always.
But what about the rest of us?
How to you record a whole choir professionally?
So the Diss Corn Hall was hired and a professional studio was set up in there.
We spent a day recording our original song, ‘Always’ and three of our most popular covers:
I just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself – Dusty Springfield
The Power of Love – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Chandelier – Sia.
And our CD was born.
This is what makes Pop Chorus a phenomenon.
It’s the tireless work of director Yula Andrews and her team. The dedication of the choir members and the support we have all had from family, friends and the people who come to our shows.
In the 10 months I have been involved with Pop Chorus, I have come to understand the bonds that are forged when a huge group of people has a common interest and purpose.
I have never been part of a group that is so warm and supportive.
The single is doing incredibly well on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play – we have been going up and down the charts on all three since the CD release on November 17th.
We have held our own against some really big names and are hoping against all hope we make it into the Top 40 by midnight on Thursday Nov23rd.
Number 1 would be an absolute dream for St. Elizabeth’s Hospice and their patients.
Please help Pop Chorus help terminally ill people – visit http://www.popchorus.org and follow one of the links to download our single or our EP. The single is only 99p and the EP is less than £4.
Pop Chorus is definitely a force to be reckoned with.