How a royal wedding made the nation fall in love with gospel music

Hastings community choir Soundwaves at Butler's Gap in Old Town
Hastings community choir Soundwaves at Butler's Gap in Old Town

Gospel music has been enjoying a renaissance since Harry and Meghan tied the knot to the sounds of songs like Stand By Me.

Now Sound Waves Community Choir is giving Hastings residents an opportunity to experience the pleasure of singing gospel music themselves — and performing in public at Christmas.

Sound Waves musical director Debbie Warren commented: “At Sound Waves, we sing a huge range of musical genres – we enjoy everything from jazz and pop to sea shanties and opera. We started planning our current season of gospel music months before the royal wedding, and the huge surge in the popularity of gospel music that followed has provided an unexpected, and very welcome boost.”

Sound Waves is a true community choir, run by its members, and accepting singers of all abilities. Rehearsals for the choir’s Gospel Celebration start on Tuesday September 4 at 7.30pm at the Salvation Army Hall, St Andrew’s Square, in central Hastings, building up to a free concert just before Christmas at All Saints Church in the Old Town.

Debbie Warren says the choir always welcomes new members and the first session is free. “Anyone can just come along and sing. There are no auditions and you don’t have to read music. We are a really friendly choir and rehearsals are relaxed and fun.”

Though Debbie will be teaching most of the material, there will also be a contribution from guest MD Daniel Thomas. Formerly the director of the London Community Gospel choir, Daniel is an accomplished singer, songwriter and teacher, and has worked as voice coach for Girls Aloud, and on BBC programme Can’t Sing Singers.

Debbie is quick to point out that choral singing is not just about learning a tune: “There are tremendous health benefits to singing in a choir. Physically, you get a surge of oxygen into the blood stream, and the feel-good hormones your body produces boost your sense of well-being. Learning a new skill — and the social element of collaborating with new friends — is also really good for your mental health.”

You can find out more about singing with Sound Waves by visiting www.soundwaveschoir.org.uk.

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