Are you local? I’m originally from the north, but I’ve been in Brighton for 16 years. I live in Brunswick Place and I’ve lived near George Street, in the Poet’s Corner area and Coombe Road before.
What do you do? I run Soul of the City Choir: a non-auditioned choir for all ages. We sing pop, soul and gospel music. We have an age range from people in their early 20s, right up until their 80s. How many people are there in total? In my Tuesday choir there’s 150 people and in my Monday one there’s a hundred. In the tenth anniversary Christmas concert we have coming up at All Saints Church (14th Dec), they will all sing together. It’s such a strong sound with that many people! When you get a four part harmony chord going PWARR, it’s incredible.
What drew you to start Soul of the City? Music is amazing and there is nothing like the feeling of singing together in harmony! I wanted to open that out to people who wouldn’t usually sing and just make it really fun. Originally we were going to sing in a pub: rehearsal, then pint. The social side has always been a big part of it, but there wasn’t a pub big enough. I was expecting 30 people, but we started with 98! We still do go to the pub after choir, though.
Do you collaborate with any other choirs or organisations? We love collaborating. Every year we support a local charity: this year we’re working with Together Co. They set it up because they realised that no matter who you are, at any point, anyone can feel lonely. People need somewhere to go, and to feel connected. They partner with other organisations, such as a group that lines up volunteers to spend time with older people. Other highlights include working with local media company Tilt to create films, singing with The Roundhouse Choir as part of Voices Now, and with the band Reef at Concorde 2. I’m always scouting for singing adventures.
What do you like about Brighton? The sea! I tried to move as close to it as possible. If I press against the window in a particular way, I can see the sea from my window. When I’m in bed, and it’s really raging, I can hear the waves and I love that. I work from home, and I sit in my window and I always know when it’s going to be a good sunset because of the colour of the buildings opposite.I love that every day I see something a little bit weird, and that anything goes. You can be whatever, whoever, however you want to be here. I never think about whether or not I can get away with something. It’s Brighton, just do it.
Is there anything you’d like to change about the place? I’d really like to change some residents’ attitudes to live music. I think it’s a shame that so many amazing live music venues close because of residents complaining about the noise. I understand that it can be an issue, but I’d love it if our individual quirky places could be allowed to do their thing.
Photo by Adam Bronkhorst