Five of Scotland’s most talented songwriters have been paired with five community choirs across Scotland. The project is the brainchild of the producers of Scotland’s largest community choir Love Music who, under the moniker of Love Singing, have made the matches in spite of lockdown and the new ‘couples’ will now come together to create five new works to share with the world in August this year, sharing their experience as they go.
The pairings of a diverse range of organisations and individuals are as follows:
Sing Mor is a small and fairly new Scottish folk/roots project in rural Lochaber near Fort William whose song leader describes herself as self-taught and avidly learning on the hoof. Through the accessible nature of zoom, they now have regular singers from across the West of Scotland and the Islands. Sing Mor will be working with Debbie Armour, one half of the Scottish folk duo Burd Ellen, who are sonic adventurers combining innovation with a deep love of traditional song.
Stonehouse Male Voice Choir is one of longest formed groups which began in a builder’s yard in Stonehouse in Lanarkshire in 1936 and has over 40 members aged from 12 to 80+. As they haven’t learned any new songs since lockdown, they are excited to take up the challenge. They will be collaborating with highly respected songwriter Penny Stone who is one of the most active song leaders in the Scottish sector using singing to support people living with chronic health conditions such as Parkinson’s and dementia.
Fochabers Community Sing in Moray is a project run by Lizzie, who has been a music teacher and music therapist. Since the first lockdown she has turned her hand to making instructional videos of specially arranged songs, contemporary and pop, asking people to send in their own recorded versions and mixing them into music films for people to share. Their songwriter collaborator is emerging artist Zac Scott, a Glasgow based acoustic singer-songwriter who has spent the past two years writing and recording a unique collection of songs inspired by Scotland and Iceland.
Earnsong, a project from Comrie in Perth & Kinross who describe themselves as a close and supportive community, have worked hard to embrace new digital platforms. To keep local spirits up since March 2020, they have been making musical video gifts to share with friends and residents in their local care home. Earnsong will work with Djana Gabrielle, a French-Cameroonian singer-songwriter and 2019 Celtic Connections Danny Kyle Stage Winner, who has been honing her craft on the Scottish music scene for a few years.
Freedom of Mind Choir is a welcoming, inclusive and supportive project in Falkirk that provides opportunities for their members to focus on the benefits of singing for good mental health. They will be working on a new collaboration with singer, songwriter, composer and audio documentary maker Hannah Fredsgaard-Jones who was born in Denmark and is now living in Glasgow.
Love Music’s artistic director Stephen Deazley said “… Each application really conveyed their own style, a strong sense of identity, purpose and musical interests. The work and efforts that everyone is doing in this difficult time is so inspiring, … all are testament to the importance of community singing to our health and creative well-being…
“A big thanks to all our applicants. It was great to be introduced to such a range of choirs and songwriters from the length and breadth of Scotland. This country has more than its fair share of diverse song writing talent and such a long history of musical innovation especially in folk and indie music, it’s always punched well beyond its weight. We were truly inspired, and sad to have to select only five.”
The 8-month project will run through to August 2021 and will tackle the ongoing challenges of distanced rehearsals and remote learning head on, sharing the journey as it happens through a series of blogs, and creating an online information bank of what is learned, sharing the trials and triumphs with choir leaders across Scotland.
The project, that is made possible with funding from Creative Scotland, and run by the charity Love Music Productions Ltd whose aim is to inspire and empower people to be curious, creative and adventurous with music, regardless of their skill base or background, can be seen at the Love Singing website