Soul of the City Gospel Choir, Exeter
Soul of the City Gospel Choir was born in April 2019, out of my wholehearted love for black music – the funky rhythms, the soulfulness, the heart bursting joy of it, the fact that I couldn’t listen to it without dancing!? It totally thrills me!
For many years previous I had been dreaming of creating a group that brought together my love of black music and my desire to create a really high quality kick ass performing ensemble. And this year I finally felt ready, so I dived in and made it happen.
It has been such a trip already, and I feel truly blessed by the wonderful singers and hearts that have come my way to be in this group with me.? They inspire me, make me laugh, and are such a hardworking bunch.? Such a lucky choir leader I am!
What follows is a little bit of my musical history, how I came to love this music, and what it means to me.? Basically, because it’s lovely to reflect, pay homage to one’s musical heroes, and also because Tina, my wonderful marketing person told me to!
My earliest memory is of singing in my playpen as a baby.? Holding on to the bars looking out at the world, ooh and ahhing and making up my own little tunes!? So sweet to remember that.? And then in my teenage years, I have very happy memories of sitting at the piano, singing my heart out as I jammed chord sequences on the piano (I also loved to play Queen!). This was a welcome bit of freedom from my classical music studies as a cellist. I could just let rip and be in the moment with music. What these two memories have in common is the freedom of just singing what was in my heart in that moment, later on I learned this was called ?improvisation? but I love that as a child and teenager I just did it naturally.? It felt so deeply satisfying to me and felt like something so very ‘mine’, and was at the heart of what I loved about black music, the freedom of expression.
In my teenage years I found deep solace in the music of Aretha Franklin.? I was captivated by her and the depth of feeling in her singing.? To me she had a voice that pierced my heart and gave me shivers.? I went recently to see the documentary-film Amazing Grace, which is a live gospel concert featuring Aretha and the incredible Southern California Community Choir.? Tears streamed down my face for the whole thing, as I just watched and listened in awe of the beauty and power of the music that was coming through them all.? Wow, truly sublime!