Since the dawn of time, we humans have sung together to mark events that have affected our particular tribe. Whether in celebration or in mourning, for connecting to the Gods or going to war, we have used the power of song to bring us close, to conﬁrm our common unity.
Through centuries of political and social change, this tradition of singing together has left us with a rich library of songs through which those at the coal face of political and social upheaval could voice their deﬁance and be nourished by unity within sound and rhythm.
Vocal Chords Choir began the Songs of Protest project in response to the current social and political events, drawing inspiration from the legacy held within these songs. To quote Pete Seeger: ‘… and by union what we will/ can be accomplished still, /Drops of water turn a mill/ singly none, singly none.’
Current global events, as well as events from history, inﬂuenced the choir’s choice of songs. The U.S.A. travel ban ﬂagged up Mike Scott’s song ‘Bring ‘em all in’. The appalling tragedy of The Grenfell Tower inspired Melanie to write ‘No More’. Choir members brought in songs from the Apartheid Movement, ‘Erile’ and the beautiful lament of ‘Senzenina’. While Labi Sifri’s ‘Something Inside So Strong’ speaks to us of the power of personal change that occurs when we are moved to express a political voice.
All these songs that Vocal Chords sing are an audible record of the courage and integrity that has inspired people to stand up and march for justice and a voice. From the Tolpuddle Martyrs to factory workers on the east coast of America, we bring ‘Liberty’ and ‘Bread and Roses’, while from the African American Gospel to Pete Seeger’s social activism come ‘Oh Freedom’ and ‘Step by Step’.
These songs stand as a testament to the possibility of change. Vocal Chords Choir, from their base in South East London, led by the marvelous Melanie Harrold, sing them with passion and commitment, filling our hearts with the joy and warmth of community, brought to us by the power of singing together – as potent and important now as it has ever been.