The Pink Ladies Choir yesterday gathered to launch their first CD, which is to be distributed among cancer services to help those going through treatment.
The choristers, many of whom have survived breast cancer themselves, gathered at Bishop Street Community Centre yesterday for the launch and said they were delighted with the finished product, which was professionally recorded at Blast Furnace Studios.
Speaking about how it came about, Pink Ladies’ development worker Michelle McLaren said: “When the choir would start singing in rehearsals, I thought, ‘God, they should really make a CD so that other people can enjoy their music whenever they felt like it’. Myself and Maureen Collins were chatting and Acorn Legacy Fund were funding for different projects and I thought, ‘it’s worth a go, I’ll put in for it and they awarded us the money to make the CD. We got the word the week before Christmas.”
The choir was told of the plan in January and were thrilled with the opportunity to go to a recording studio to record their own CD. Choir mistress Siobhan Heaney then led the choir through the rehearsals and the choristers were full of praise for her direction. Michelle said: “Siobhan’s vision was brilliant. She knew right away what she would like the CD to look like and she knows the choir inside and out. Not only are they a great choir, there is an amazing crew at creative writing and that is all encompassed in the CD as well.”
As well as songs recorded by the Pink Ladies, the CD includes stories and reflections written by the Pink Ladies Creative Writers’ Group, along with relaxation techniques
The day of recording back in June, Michelle said, was brilliant. “Maureen and I went up and we were nearly crying because we found it so beautiful. Siobhan gives all her time voluntarily and has done for the past five years, which is to be highly commended.”
Among the songs featured on the album are ‘Oh Happy Days’, ‘Scarlet Ribbons’, ‘Black Is the Colour’.
Jacquie Loughrey, chorister and co-chairperson of the Pink Ladies said: “The idea behind it was people could benefit, see a group of women who enjoy life, who have been through a cancer diagnosis, who have friends who have supported them. We have buddies in the choir, people who haven’t had a cancer diagnosis but are there as support.
“The feeling, the camaraderie it brings to us, the support we get, and how it benefits our health and well-being, that’s what drives us on.
“The thought we were going to be able to make the CD and give it to Cancer Services and people who have been diagnosed to show them that there is life after cancer diagnosis and we are the living embodiment of that life was great.
“When we sing together as a group we nearly amaze ourselves because we do sound good, and that is down to Siobhan and practising.”
Chorister Susan Brooks agreed that the choir was great for lifting people’s mood. “I personally haven’t had it but I’ve lost people who have had cancer. When I come to the choir and if I feel I’m having a bad day or something and I see these ladies, it just keeps me going on, because they are so brave and I think it’s lovely.”
Chorister Mary McCloskey, who comes along with her friend Angela McGowan, said: “I didn’t have breast cancer but it is just great to come along, look around and see there is life after it.”
Angela adds: “When you come and you are singing everything else goes out of your mind. The Pink Ladies and the choir just keeps you going. You have always something to go to and something to do.”
The choir, whose members range in age from their 20s to their 70s, started life around five years ago following the Pink Ladies’ participation in the Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival. It soon became apparent that the music, camaraderie and the craic was helping people with their recovery. “It’s a transformation through singing,” Jacquie said. “The support network in the Pink Ladies is very, very strong and singing is just one way people can benefit.”
And the Pink Ladies have said that they would love to see additional funding to help expand the print run of the CD, copies of which were being distributed at the launch of cancer services. Michelle said: “If we secure further funding, we would like to give it out in information packs.” Jacquie adds: “And if any business wants to put up more money we can actually print more copies of the CD and get it out into general release.”
Any business wishing to get involved is asked to contact Maureen or Michelle at the Pink Ladies on 028 71414004 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org