By Jodie Nesling
The warmth and joy of Margate’s Social Singing Choir has already seen them steal the show at isle festivals and celebrations throughout the year.
Now their intrinsic community spirit can be seen as they perform for a national Christmas advertising campaign for clothing giant, Very.
Led by musician, songwriter and vocal coach, Hughie Gavin the choir perform the Rudimental and John Newman hit, Can You Feel The Love with the advert telling the story of a community that comes together to give Sidney, a lonely man, a Christmas that he’ll never forget.
Hughie said: “It was filmed over two days at the Big Jelly recording studio in Ramsgate and the company came along to watch taking the time to really get to know the singers. It was a lot of fun. We have found out by Very that the advert has been named the most ‘emotionally engaging’ which is amazing when you consider you have John Lewis and others.”
The opportunity to audition for the advert arose through a contact of Hughie’s and they applied alongside other choirs to land the gig.
As the son of an opera singer Hughie grew up in a musical household and has regularly performed in choirs, but since moving to Margate four years ago his work as a songwriter stipulates periods of solitude. “My studio is at the Printworks Margate and I work alone a lot of the time. Music is a shared experience and I thought setting up the choir would be a good way to collaborate and for people to meet,” he said.
Following a call-out in December 2017 around 10 to 15 people joined and now there are 80 singers on the books. “It just keeps growing! We have been lucky as we usually have around 30 members at any one gig and it’s always just worked out that others have been away on certain dates. My favourite thing is seeing their smiling faces – the group is really diverse and it’s so nice to see the friendships formed. There’s a real community here.”
Very were in agreement and sent the choir a letter expressing their gratitude. They wrote: “We just wanted to say a massive thank you to you all for giving up your time and voices for our Christmas ad. It really wouldn’t be the same without you, and the feedback we’ve had has been phenomenal. Those two days filming with you were so inspiring and uplifting for us both, we wish you could join us every week.
“You’re an incredible bunch of people. Each member has their own brilliant character, kind energy and positive energy. And we hope we managed to make this shine through in our (sadly short) film. Never stop being your amazing selves! And as a choir, never stop sharing the love and spreading joy wherever you go. You’re a shining example of what community means, and the world needs more of that. Merry Christmas and thank you.”
There are more exciting plans for the future which includes a collaboration with Thanet-based record label, Moshi Moshi and a recording session with the BBC.
On Tuesday, December 10 they will be carolling around the town singing festive tunes at places such as Old Kent Market and The Fez.