Proud Marys, Cheshire’s first LGBTQ choir, has been rehearsing in St Mary’s Creative Space in Chester and made its first big splash with an official appearance centre stage in the city’s Pride celebration on August 11.
The 35 strong choir was formed in November 2017, initially as a series of three workshops with funding from Body Positive. Well-known Chester musician Matt Baker was brought into the choir to act as musical director. He said: “I had no idea how many people from the LGBT community in Chester and surrounding areas would turn up for a new choir workshop - but I am totally thrilled that we have a membership of over 30 members already!
“And I have to add that they sing wonderfully and are a terrific group.
“To have an LGBT choir in a relatively small city like Chester is a very exciting thing. There is room for new members so please come along!”
With its own unique blend of voices, the choir will sing specially composed musical arrangements of pop classics and anthems. They are currently working on a rendition of Labi Siffre’s classic Something Inside So Strong.
The choir is now looking to expand its numbers and singing experience is not necessary.
Chris Walton from Great Boughton joined last November. He said: “Being in a choir brings out your self-confidence and, with Matt’s brilliant direction, everyone is improving and finding their voices.
“I love being in the Proud Marys; I have met some great people who I would not likely have otherwise met; it’s great fun and there is something quite joyous about creating music all together.”
With membership steadily increasing since last year, Proud Marys is gearing up for its first recruitment drive ahead of the choir’s scheduled summer appearances.
The feelgood factor definitely seems to be a trademark of the Proud Marys. It’s been scientifically proven that singing releases endorphins and produces a natural high.
Phil Cross, 33, joined in February 2018 and echoed this by saying: “Nothing beats the feeling of singing in a group and Proud Marys is a lovely, open, welcoming group.”
With Pride making the city’s LGBTQ community ever more visible, many of the choir members share a sense of positive identity by being in the group.
Lorraine Pate, of Frodsham, said: “For a few hours I can forget that I’m a minority and feel part of something bigger, something wonderful, something liberating and every song takes on a new meaning.
“And having the opportunity to perform at Chester Pride is the icing on the cake. For me, it’s not just a choir - it’s a chance to be visible to ourselves and to each other.”
The group now meets every Monday night Chester Blue Coat School on Walpole Street at 8pm. All members of the LGBT community are welcome.