By The Campaign Choirs Writing Collective
Available June 2018
Singing for Our Lives: Stories from the Street Choirs centres on more than 40 oral histories gathered from members of the UK’s many street choirs.
The title is taken from the lyrics of ‘We are a Gentle Angry People’, a song by Holly Near that is popular in the repertoire of many street choirs. Exploring the role of street choirs in political culture, Singing For Our Lives introduces this neglected world to a wider public, including activists and academics.
The book intends to inspire the reader to engage with this world: to find out more, to join a choir in their community, to enlist their local street choir to support campaigns for social change and, more generally, to mobilise artistic creativity in progressive social movements.
Singing for Our Lives is introduction to street choirs and their history, exploring origins in and connections with other social movements, for example the Workers Education Association, the Clarion movement, Big Flame and the Social Forum movement. The book identifies the political nodes where choir histories intersect, notably Greenham Common, the Miners’ Strike, anti-apartheid and Palestinian struggles.
Signing for Our Lives also elaborates the personal stories and experiences of people who participate in street choirs, and the unique social practices created within them. The book tells the important, if often overlooked story, of how making music can contribute to non-violent, just and sustainable social transitions.
About the authors: Campaign Choirs Writing Collective are Kelvin Mason, Jenny Patient and Lotte Reimer. Kelvin Mason is a writer with background in social movement activism and academia, particularly participatory action research (PAR). He is the author of three non-fiction books on participatory technology development and has published numerous research, feature and news articles. An environmental campaigner with Sheffield Climate Alliance, Jenny Patient is engaged in action research on the future of energy-intensive industries in Yorkshire and the Humber. Her background is in teaching, community development and project management, and she loves to sing in the streets and on actions. With a keen interest in promoting song as a political tool, Lotte Reimer is an activist and prime mover in the Campaign Choirs Network. She is a Natural Voice Practitioner, choir leader and member of the Natural Voice Network, NVN. Lotte compiles and edits the Wales section of Peace News. Campaign Choirs Writing Collective academic adviser and editor, Gavin Brown, is an academic geographer at the University of Leicester. He has researched a range of LGBTQ social movements and has recently written a book about young people’s involvement in anti-apartheid solidarity activism in London in the 1980s.
Cover design: Eva Megias