This year Songbirds were asked to entertain the masses at the Wales Millenium Centre WOW Festival to help mark WEN Wales’ International women’s day celebrations. As a group of LBT women, we all understand how important and pertinent it is to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world. Whilst there are some significant advances in these areas, we are also reminded that progress towards gender parity globally has slowed in many countries, and that there is a greater mountain to climb for women especially those being oppressed, raped, tortured, segragated, excluded from education work and politics, and those used in modern slavery.
As an avid member of Songbirds choir for over two years I have often been fortunate to have been on the receiving end of the most wonderful public feedback about our performances, and regardless of this (in all honesty) I often come away from said performances being quite self critical, remembering more about how I forgot a lyric or that I came in to soon or too late. That said, there are other times I leave thinking ‘today I gave it my all,’ and moments when the hairs on the back of my neck tingle as the gathering of a group of women singing in perfect harmony is quite simply beautiful.
However, for The WOW festival, I experienced Songbirds in a very different light. After not singing with the choir for nearly a month due to me paying a visit to the surgeons for a much needed op, I found myself in the role of ‘spectator’ (albeit I still ended up passing round a good handful of flyers and talking to people about the choir.)
As the girls stepped up and took their places on stage I experienced a sense of Pride and longing to be on stage with them. ‘I’m part of that wonderful choir!!’ I could hear myself think. I could also see some nerves on stage – I’ve experienced that with them also in previous gigs so I am aware of how that feels – but at the point they began singing it was like a beam of energy and female solidarity hit the Glanfa stage, and the impact on me as an audience member was quite powerful. They owned the space, and people sat around me listening intently and enthusiastically.
As much as I have always enjoyed being an active member and always singing on stage, on Saturday I felt I was blessed in a different way with the opportunity to be reminded of what it is I gain from being in the choir, and I heard the choir as I’ve never heard them before. I was able to listen more intently, and I could see joy pain and anger in each of their faces as their faces reflected the mood/temperament and beat of each of the songs.
I couldn’t help but smile and become glassy eye’d as they belted out tunes such as Shoshaloza, Songbird, Bread and Roses, and You’ve got Time. Yes it’s true that our MD has to wave her arms around rather enthusiastically to get us all to sound how she thinks we should sound, but from where I was sitting I think the arm waving pays off, and what I witnessed and experienced was nothing short of fantastic and heart warming, and it was all in the name of International Women’s Day, Songbirds have done themselves proud once again!
– Julia, March 2016
Songbirds Choir is a non-auditioning community choir for self-defining LBT* women.
We rehearse 7.30 every Wednesday at City United Reformed Church on Windsor Place, Cardiff.