A cappella choir Rejoice The Voice is on the look out for new members. Tony Glynn finds out more.
IF you've been out and about at events like the Barnstaple Carnival and local festivals, you may have been serenaded by a lively bunch of ladies and gentlemen who have a tendency to pop up in all kinds of places.
Their aim? Merely to sing, and enjoy doing it. Rejoice The Voice, an a cappella choir led by Jackie McGowan Hayes, have been performing all over North Devon since forming nearly four years ago. Despite their established reputation, however, resting on their laurels is not an option. New members, of any age or ability, are always welcome.
"There are no auditions and no requirement to read music," said choir member Claire Pike. "In fact it's more important to FEEL the music. We are a group of people, young and old, who just love to sing."
Rehearsals, held on Wednesdays between 7.15pm and 9pm at the Castle Centre on the Strand, Barnstaple, are conducted in a light-hearted, friendly atmosphere. In total, the choir has 60 members with everyone in attendance.
The choir has an impressive repertoire which includes everything from feel-good floor fillers such as Lean On Me and Higher And Higher, to the more reflective, sombre re-workings of Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars and Coldplay's Fix You.
But it's not just English language songs on offer: Rejoice The Voice celebrate the best in traditional world music – be it from Africa, Cuba, France or anywhere in between.
Leader Jackie McGowan Hayes is an old hand in the choir game, previously running The Dolly Spartans in Dorset and being a part of North Devon Community Gospel Choir. She is also a member of a cappella trio 3's Company, who were featured in Journal2 earlier this year. Being a member of the Natural Voice Practitioners Network, the team is certainly in good hands.
"The choir wouldn't function at all if it weren't for Jackie." said Claire. "She has an incredible talent for bringing out the best in us.
"But she also has a huge heart, enormous patience and a great sense of humour."
Over the years the group has played at events such as Barnstaple Carnival and the Olympic NowhereIsland concert in Ilfracombe, and performed twice at the Eden Project. The choir has a strong focus on charity fundraising and, with the help of new members and continued audience support, they will be able to carry on supporting.
If it's anything like previous years, 2014 will be a busy year for Rejoice The Voice. So if singing and having fun is your aim, regardless of experience or ability, you could do worse than to join the ride.
Rejoice The Voice perform at St Anne's Chapel Open Mic Evening on Friday, December 6, and at Stoke Rivers Church on Saturday, December 7, 7.30pm. Tickets: £5 on 01598 710408 or on the door.
For more information on joining the choir, visit www.rejoicethevoice.org