I have always enjoyed singing. At the tender age of eight, I sang a solo in the school concert, and the headmaster suggested my mum took me for singing lessons to nurture my talent. I sang in music festivals, and gained my grade six in singing.
In 1990 I joined a local operatic society and enjoyed singing musical theatre, and performing under the bright lights. In 2001, I moved to another society, and discovered the musical director there had his very own big band – Dearne Big Band & Singers – based in Barnsley. I asked him if the band would do a charity concert for my church and he said he would on one condition – that I would sing a few songs with the band. I readily agreed, thinking it would be a one off and now, all these years later, I still perform regularly with the band.
I remember walking into my first rehearsal and feeling terrified of having to sing in front of a 16-piece band. It was quite overwhelming – they were so loud. I recorded them playing my songs and hurried home to practise in the safety of my own front room. My first performance was in the local school hall and I was among friends, so luckily the nerves stayed away. Seeing everyone singing along and dancing was an amazing experience, and I now had a new love in my life – swing music. Everything about the big band, and its style of music, is laid back, relaxed and most of all fun. Being a vocalist with the band is great as I get to sit with the audience and enjoy the music, and get up to sing several songs in each set.
I love singing Ella Fitzgerald songs, although I am not quite as versatile as the first lady of jazz herself.My favourites are Everytime We Say Goodbye, and Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine. I also love doing 1940s-themed gigs, when I get to be Vera Lynn for the night – in particular, singing We’ll Meet Again. It’s fantastic to see everyone get into the ‘Blitz spirit’.
We play many varied gigs – from fundraising events to weddings and anniversaries, and we have a winter season at Holiday Inn, Barnsley, and Carlton Park Hotel, Rotherham. I have been lucky enough to link my big band passion to my work too, playing at fundraising events for Rotherham Hospice – who says you can’t mix business with pleasure? None of the band gets paid – any money is put back into the youth band, which provides instruments and music lessons for kids who may otherwise not be able to afford it. This is unique, and ensures everyone in the band is playing because they love it.
I’m so grateful for having the opportunity to sing with Dearne Big Band and hope I will continue singing for many years to come.
* Anne Giblin, Rotherham Hospice Marketing Manager