Rock Choir, the UK’s largest contemporary choir with 400 venues, celebrates its 10th anniversary in Cambridgeshire with a session led by creator and founder Caroline Redman Lusher in St Neots later this month.
Caroline will be coming to the area to resume the very first full term session on Wednesday April 27 at St Neots at the United Reformed Church, and everyone is welcome.
“Rock Choir as a whole is actually 17 years old,” Caroline explains, “and we started in Farnham [in Surrey]. There was organic growth across the country and after seven years we came to Cambridge.
“And next year in December 2023 we will invite all members to come to the NEC Arena in Birmingham to celebrate 18 years of Rock Choir – so the Cambridgeshire Rockies I’m sure will enjoy the trip in coach and will come and sing with everyone. They are a very sociable group in Cambridgeshire…”
A singer and musician, Caroline has grown the choir from 100 people in Surrey to 33,000 across the UK. She has been going out and visiting choirs since the restrictions were lifted and has found it really exciting.
Caroline, who has appeared regularly on national television and radio, is known for her warm and inspiring approach that has captured the imagination and stirred the nation to sing along. Did she ever think when she started Rock Choir that it would become such a hit?
“Oh no, not at all,” she says, “the original reason for starting it in my own community was because I had seen the difference it had made for my A-level students, because I had been professional interpreter in London and then I went into teaching…
“I taught performing arts in the baccalaureate and my students, who couldn’t read music, were very good at dance and drama, but were nervous about music. I had to get them through that A level and I huddled them around the piano and I wrote pop songs that they really liked, that were on the charts, and I taught them. I found common ground with them.
“Then I put them in front of their peers and in difficult situations to perform to build their confidence and we got them through their A level, and what I found with these students of my staff friends in college, c is that their grades started to go up.
“The parents told me: ‘My daughter is much happier, she has more self-confidence, she communicates with us, something happens to her, it has a positive effect on her’. It was 2003 and I wasn’t sure what I was doing; I didn’t know the scientific side of singing and what was going on in the brain.
“But I knew I was also on a high and loved teaching that Wednesday afternoon choir, so I ended up putting up a sign in my local cafe in Farnham saying, ‘No auditions, no need to read music”. All the aspects that I had experienced with the students that I brought into the community.
Since those humble beginnings, Rock Choir have continued to perform at premier national events and even recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios. He also raises a huge amount of money for charity each year.
“They leave the choir in style,” Caroline says of her members. “They engage in music, which we all know is the natural drug for creating joy and happiness, and the friendships and support they get from the choir is a big part of their experience. And then I put them in front of the public. We’re on TV and we go and we do all these different events to build their confidence.
The likeable founder, who left teaching in 2005 to focus full-time on Rock Choir, adds, “I never expected it to be big…I never would have suggested I was a woman. business or understood that side of things, but every decision I made was for the good of the members.
For her efforts, Caroline received a Gold Badge Award from PRS for Music a few years ago. “It was recognizing my contribution to the music industry,” she explains, “because all these songs that I bring back to Rock Choir bring us back to life.
“We bring in a song that might have been in the 1970s that people might have forgotten about and we deconstruct it and reconstruct it in terms of the harmonies to work for Rock Choir and then they go and they upload the original. Listening to the original, they relive their youth.
She notes that the choir also introduces young people to artists they had never heard of, such as a young person she met who had never heard of Phil Collins. He then returned home, mentioned it to his parents who revealed they had his vinyl records in the attic.
“Really great stories like that happen all the time,” Caroline says, “and also some members will write to me and say, ‘I never liked that song when it came out, but now I understand it. and I sing it and I read the lyrics and I do it with my friends and it’s slightly different.
“We don’t change the fundamental song itself, but we make it our own. Rock Choir can live forever on songs.
In Cambridgeshire there are regular Rock Choir sessions in Cambridge, St Neots and Huntingdon. The Cambridge group meets at the Queen Edith Chapel. Caroline Redman Lusher will lead a Rock Choir session from 7.30pm to 9pm at St Neots United Reformed Church, High Street, St Neots on Wednesday 27 April.
To learn more about Rock Choir and to book a free trial session, go to rockchoir.com. To learn more about Caroline, visit carolineredmanlusher.com.
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