CWNN Brighton first opened its doors in autumn 2018, offering a safe, welcoming space for people affected by homelessness and marginalisation in the city, where you can leave your troubles at the door, sing together, grow in confidence, form long-lasting friendships and find a supportive community. Pre-Covid the choir rehearsed weekly in the city centre, followed by a hot meal together, and performed foot-stomping gigs across the city, including at the iconic Brighton Dome.
When Covid struck, like thousands of choirs across the country, all in-person choir activities stopped. The choir moved their rehearsals onto Zoom to make sure that they could stay in touch and keep singing together each week. During lockdown, many choir members experienced extreme isolation, bereavement, anxiety and loneliness. But their weekly Zoom singalongs kept them going, and kept them together. An anthem emerged during that time, which came to mean a lot to the choir, particularly after the tragic loss of one of their members in 2021. That song was Run by Snow Patrol.
Choir member, Katie:
We started rehearsing [‘Run’] at the open market in Brighton - it’s very soulful and upbeat. Shortly after that, one of our choir members passed away unexpectedly and we sang it at her memorial service. We decided what we'd like to record it as a choir, to create something together because of all lockdowns and everything that went with that - not really being able to spend time together, singing or socialising or eating dinner together as we used to. I think because the venue we recorded it in is a church it gave it something more acoustic and emotional that seemed to work well for us… singing to the top of the rafters and remembering our friend and all the times we spent together. We hope that people like it!
Choir Director, Freya Wynne-Jones:
After months of singing into a screen, we wanted to create something that gave our members an opportunity to get back to doing what we love: not just singing, but singing for others - working together with the common purpose of joining our voices and sharing our sound and revelling in all of the togetherness and community that experience brings. ‘Run’ felt like the obvious choice for everyone. Not only had the lyrics meant so much to us whilst singing into empty space without the feedback of each other’s voices in our ears, ("even if you cannot hear my voice, I'll be right beside you dear") but it was also a song which had rooted itself deeply into our hearts having come together virtually to sing it on the evening of learning we'd lost a dear and valued choir member. Singing a song that acknowledges our sadness but also recognises our hope felt like our lockdown anthem - and the obvious choice for this project.
At a time of great uncertainty and even greater challenges, CWNN Brighton are extremely proud to have kept their choir family together and are thrilled to now be back doing what they do best – singing together (in person!) each week, gigging and supporting each other to thrive, both musically and personally.
Videography by David Clarke. Audio recorded and mixed by Pabs at Tidy Studios. It was shot at St Pauls Church, Brighton in Aug 2021.