One man’s mission to make choirs cool again
So Choir!, short for Social Choir, is a completely informal and fully inclusive singing group that meets up each week in bars and workplaces across Yorkshire.
All are welcome, there are no auditions, no sheet music, no commitment or stuffy rules and you’ll never be made to sing on your own - ever.
As well as being incredibly good fun - as I can testify – singing in a group is also very good for your mental and physical health.
A study carried out by the University of East Anglia in 2017 found that it gave participants a feeling of belonging and wellbeing and was a great way to help people recover from mental illness. The breathing involved in singing has also been shown to be good for the body and help with sleep.
So Choir! was set up three years ago by professional musician Nic Slack. Originally from London, Nic moved to Selby in 2011 to establish the Rock Choir brand in Yorkshire.
Nic is an energetic and hugely likeable 42-year-old father of three small children who has been involved in making music for most of his life and his passion for So Choir! is obvious.
He said: “I set up So Choir! to give everyone the chance to be in a band. The buzz you get from making music with other like-minded people is incredible and everyone should get to experience it.”
He added: “Although we call ourselves a choir we are way more informal than that. We’re a collective of social singing enthusiasts.
“Everyone loves to sing, but choirs have become pretty un-cool in modern times. When most people hear the word choir, they tend to think of school choirs, church choirs, classical or gospel choirs. We plan to change that.”
The concept is refreshingly simple and the vibe is relaxed. Guided by Nic on keyboards and Stu on guitar, the group learns a three-part harmony in bite-size pieces and, at the end of the night put the whole song together and performs it.
Recent songs include The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, Times Like These by Foo Fighters, Crowded House’s Weather With You and K T Tunstall’s Suddenly I See.
Nic says: “It’s not just about singing: So Choir! singers have formed whole new friendship groups and it has helped some of them through difficult times in their lives.”
John, 72, has been with So Choir! Since the early days, he said: “I like singing and being part of So Choir! makes me feel really good.”
“I’ve made lots of friends and we regularly meet up and go to the cinema, for a drink or a meal together.”
Louise credits her new found confidence with joining the choir two years ago. She too has discovered a whole new social life and added: “Singing uplifts me and makes me feel happy. I’ve met some wonderful people and made some great new friends.”
So Choir! has its own Youtube channel where Nic posts videos of some of the group’s performances. One of these, The Feeling’s Love It When You Call was picked up by the lead singer of The Feeling, Dan Gillespie-Sells via Twitter and the whole choir were invited to their gig at the O2 Academy Leeds and given a special mention on stage.
Brit-Pop favourites Dodgy were similarly impressed with the choir’s rendition of Staying Out for the Summer and invited them to collaborate with them on their tour, while KT Tunstall took the time to respond to a tweet about the choir’s rendition of one of her songs.
To find out more about So Choir! and how to get involved visit the website at www.sochoir.co.uk