It is funny how things start simply with an idea that one would like to put into practise, and then somehow things develop organically. The Choir was quite simply my desire to sing for the Orisha on a regular basis with a multitude of people whilst using my skills and joy in vocal arranging. Over seven years later we are still going. It is a challenge, I do not receive more than a token in pay; I do not do it for financial gain yet I find that the drive to continue is very strong whatever the odds. Why? I hear you ask. My motivation is two fold. Firstly singing keeps me going and sharing it with lots of people is an extremely uplifting experience. After almost every single rehearsal. ( I say almost, since there has been inevitably, the odd challenging rehearsal;) I feel amazing. It makes me smile. The act of singing from the heart and the joy the harmony brings to my ear when everyone is singing their parts and enjoying themselves also makes those endorphins explode. Whatever has been happening in my everyday life. Whether there have been upsetting challenges or exhausting obstacles, a two hour rehearsal makes everything seem OK. I have also taught singing to those who are fearful of using their own voices. And I have often explained to them that for me singing is like breathing. If could not do it, I don’t know what I would do. I feel so strongly that if I feel like that after a rehearsal, everyone should have the right to sing; and everyone should make time for singing. It is a right not a luxury.
Personally I like to sing anything, it is always a pleasure to sing and teach whatever motivates people, however my love and passion is to sing for the Orisha since it comes so much from the heart and it is a way that I can express my love for my faith and my love for Orisha so easily. So this is the second reason why I keep this going. Does everyone in the choir feel like this? Not everyone in the Choir follow the path of Orisha but some do. Whatever brings each individual into the choir I would say that spiritually it is of benefit to all who take part. This is spiritual song and the motivation behind the choir is a spiritual one. Ok so I am going to be a little controversial. I see so many classes for the Orisha. All of a sudden, Orisha dance classes, Orisha Song classes, and the playing of Bata classes have had an explosion in the UK at least. But I feel that when the context is taken away, when there is no heart in the teaching. Where there is no soul or belief in the singing, when people are looking at ways to make money and jumping on the band wagon, when these songs and traditions are taken out of context for commercial gain, it just doesn’t feel the same. It’s all about motive. That is my opinion.
The Choir is a community project. People seem to come in and out. It is the nature of the beast. There are a few people who have been there from the very beginning. Some drop out since they find the commitment outweighs the benefits, but for many it is a lifeline and something they look forward to. Those who leave the choir because their lives get busy, they don’t feel up to it, they have other commitments, I say to them try and find some time to sing, preferably with other people. if singing in this choir is not your thing, not everyone is going to find that it is their cup of tea; find something else to replace it. You will find that singing on a regular basis pulls you through like nothing else does. EVERYBODY SING!!!
Since I originally published this article on the former Blog, their has been a Choir revival. There have also been programs which document the health benefits of singing on those with health problems. In the Whittington Hospital, London, they run a singing group for those with Lung problems. I have also heard the theory that singing as a group regulates a group heartbeat. For whatever reason you may join a Choir, you can guarantee that singing as a group is one of the most uplifting things you can do with your spare time.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS: there are so many studies to prove that singing has an amazing impact on physical and mental health. The community benefits of singing in a choir has also been documented. Here are some links to articles which talk about this.