One February morning in 2010 I got up a bit earlier than usual and went out to a local 4 star hotel in Bath for some breakfast. This seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do and I’m always partial to a full English Breakfast. Even better than that, the tax man contributed towards the cost of it because I found some men in suits to discuss recordings with. It turned out that none of the suits were particularly interested in recording a choir. In fact most of them had no idea what a choir was and only used a microphone in order to shout even louder to other disinterested suits about why their particular product or service was so marvellous.
I quickly decided the whole notion of ‘business networking’ wasn’t really my thing, so I stopped trying to learn ‘business speak’ and wandered around looking for more interesting (and better looking) people to talk to. After a while I came across a lovely lady called Lesley-Anne Hornbogen. She seemed much more friendly and easier to talk to. Moreover, she was actually interested in what I did. So much so that I did some recording work to help her promote her business, which at the time was all about using social media for marketing your business. Now that did strike me as a good idea – although I’m still not that good at using twitter and Facebook to their full potential.
Anyway we did a few recordings together, and I engaged in several nice chats with Lesley Anne to pass the time at a number of these silly breakfast meetings. I found out that she was a really good jazz singer and we talked about some of her previous performances. And then, some time passed.
About a year or so later, the phone rang. “Jules, now listen.” It was the lovely Lesley-Anne. She can be very dominant and always likes to put me in my place! She went on, without pausing for breath; “I want to start a choir in Pewsey with my friend Felicity. The thing is, you’re the only musician I know so I’d like you to come and talk to us about what we need to do.” Well, how could I possibly refuse such an invitation. So a date was fixed up whereupon much tea and cake was consumed. Following a brief discussion, The Pewsey Belles was formed. The rest, as they say, is history.
At its first ever ‘meeting’ 8 ladies showed up to see what the Pewsey Belles was all about. I must admit I was slightly terrified by this prospect. Prior to this point, I’d run a number of church choirs and I’ve been singing in all sorts of choirs since school days. But being faced with 8 ladies, some of whom couldnt read music or hadn’t been in a choir before was a very daunting prospect. They all just stood there looking to me for inspiration. After all, this was about the time Gareth Malone was making a name for himself with the Military Wives.
Since those early days, the choir has literally gone from strength to strength. Today, the Pewsey Belles has well over 50 regular members and I now run 4 other choirs. As with most things I am involved in, ultimately it all comes down to having conversations with people over tea and cake.