Members of the Spirit of the Streets Choir tell fascinating stories. When they perform at concerts and gigs they introduce each song with a story.
Audiences laugh and cry. Stories about life on the streets, in prison or rehab, mental illness, domestic violence and poverty affect everyone who listens.
I’ve collected over sixty of these stories for publication in a book to be published in April. The book forms part of the tenth anniversary celebrations of this remarkable choir.
To gather the stories, I ran writing groups. I encouraged, cajoled and prompted. Some stories almost wrote themselves, while others took longer. Some writers needed extra assistance. But finally many brave and beautiful stories emerged. Such generous sharing!
Researchers agree that singing benefits individuals. Singing with others releases the hug hormone, oxytocin, which bonds people and groups. We don’t know for certain yet if singing in a community or mixed choir helps in special ways. We suspect it does.
Why is the Spirit of the Streets a community choir?
- Community choirs do not audition and so the choir welcomes people of ability, little ability and anything in between.
- Previous singing experience not required nor do people have to be able to read music.
- The choir welcomes everyone who wants to sing, or even listen to singing.
The SOS choir includes retired teachers, nurses, journalists, public servants and a social worker. It also includes people disadvantaged and marginalised by their life’s circumstances.
Part of a longer narrative research project, the Spirit of the Streets book of stories adds to what we already know about the benefits of singing.
Modelled loosely on the Melbourne-based Choir of Hard Knocks, the Spirit of the Streets Choir began with Bernard Carney, a dedicated musical leader with a vision, and a handful of men and women in a back room over a church. The original group of singers were vendors of The Big Issue Magazine.
The choir rehearses every Tuesday afternoon and sings at between thirty and forty performances a year. New members are always welcome.
Make a diary note for this year’s gala tenth anniversary concert on May 6th at 3.00 pm. You can also buy a book then.