IN 2011, a television documentary was screened that would spawn a nationwide singing phenomenon.
The Choir That Rocked shadowed an amateur ‘rock choir’, made up of ordinary people, as they prepared for a once-in-a-lifetime performance at Wembley.
Founded by professional singer Caroline Lusher, Rock Choir aimed to bring contemporary singing to the masses.
In Oxfordshire, rock choirs have sprung up in Oxford, Didcot, Wallingford and Bicester, attracting everyone from lawyers and doctors, to mums, students and people who have retired.
Rock Choir has no auditions, no upward age limits and no requirement to read music.
Kat Penn, the 24-year-old leader of the Wallingford and Didcot Rock Choirs, said: “There’s never a boring moment, and everyone is so friendly that you can’t help but love the social element of the sessions too.”
The sessions end with a mini performance of what they have achieved.
Rock Choirs sing pop, gospel and Motown songs.
Songs range from Labi Siffre’s Something Inside So Strong to Bryan Adam’s When You’re Gone.
Miss Penn added: “The only pre-requisite of rock choir is that you enjoy singing, which makes it hugely inclusive.
“If you are a confident singer then there are solo opportunities in some of the songs.
“But there is no pressure to do any performance if you don’t want to.”
In March this year, Rock Choir carried out a series of nationwide flash mobs in support of Sport Relief.
Tracey Lindley, 34, from Didcot, found herself singing her heart out outside Marks & Spencer in Basingstoke.
The teacher from All Saints CE Primary in Didcot said: “It was surreal. We all turned up in secret at the shopping centre, dressed in long coats to hide our Rock Choir T-shirts, and hung around in pre-organised locations until we got a signal.
“When we first started singing people looked shocked.
“But then they realised what we were doing and enjoyed it.”
Ms Lindley is a member of Didcot Choir, which meets at Ladygrove Community Centre on Thursday evenings between 8pm and 9.30pm.
She said: “Straight away I realised it was going to be a lot of fun. We all love singing and the more you do it, the more confident you become.
“I’m afraid I now sing everywhere; in the shower and in the car, and my poor husband Colin has to listen to me.”
Mum-of-two Claire Picken, 39, from Aston Tirrold, sings with the Wallingford Rock Choir.
She said: “I love to sing, so singing great songs, and not talking about the housework, or kids, is absolutely wonderful.
“When I’m not with the choir I sing to my husband Bob and the children, which they think is hilarious.”
Mrs Picken added: “Some of the more experienced singers sing solos and that is my ultimate aim.”
lOxfordshire’s Rock Choirs are now booking local gigs and will be part of a mass Rock Choir event at London’s O2 Arena in July 2013. For more information on how to join, go to rockchoir.com