This Is Why We Sing
#10 Priya Parker on singing as a democratic act, collective ritual and the art of gathering

#10 Priya Parker on singing as a democratic act, collective ritual and the art of gathering

April 26, 2021

The final episode of Series One is with Priya Parker. Through her writing, group facilitation as work as a conflict mediator, she helps people create collective meaning in modern life. Priya is an important voice in the conversation around human connection and, according to Deepak Chopra,  ‘has created both an art and a science to gathering in ways that can bring joy and fulfilment to any meeting.” She is the author of ‘The Art Of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters’ and is the host of New York Times podcast ‘Together Apart.’

 

We talk about:

-Priya’s personal experience of group singing

-the need for individual expression within collective practise

-how to create transformative experiences through gathering

-how Priya’s book has influenced James’s work as singing leader

-the need to create new types of gathering in an increasingly globalised world

-why being specific and purposeful in our gatherings is important

-the TikTok shanty sensation of 2021 as a creative response to lockdown

-the demise of communal singing and the rise of solo performative singing

 

Sign up to Priya’s monthly newsletter:

https://www.priyaparker.com/newsletter

 

Priya’s website:

https://www.priyaparker.com/

 

Join the Sofa Singers:

www.thesofasingers.com

 

Podcast playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1TWeFKowQ9tCSOEPQ8xmvQ?si=FoCok6QRRfSIyfMMoFtcNQ

 

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#9 Dr Victoria Willamson on earworms, amusia and the psychology of music

#9 Dr Victoria Willamson on earworms, amusia and the psychology of music

April 19, 2021

This episode is with Dr Victoria Williamson - an independent authority, scholar and consultant on the psychology of music. Victoria is particularly interested in the relationship between music and wellbeing and is a regular contributor to radio and television, in addition to her own academic research.  She is also the author of ‘You Are The Music: How Music Reveals What It Means To Be Human’ published in 2014.

 

We talk about:

-the scope and reach of music psychology

-the global phenomenon of ‘earworms’

-her research into amusia (‘tone deafness’) and it’s implications for singing.

-the difference between congenital amusia and acquired amusia

-the relationship between music and wellbeing

-why the human voice is so powerful

-therapeutic uses of singing in different healthcare settings

-why ‘Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay’ is her favourite all-time song

 

Victoria website/blog

https://musicpsychology.co.uk/

 

Victoria’s TED talk on Music and Memory

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljbGL1uzl6k

 

Podcast playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1TWeFKowQ9tCSOEPQ8xmvQ?si=FoCok6QRRfSIyfMMoFtcNQ

 

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#8 Eric Whitacre on creating musical and social harmony through singing

#8 Eric Whitacre on creating musical and social harmony through singing

April 12, 2021

This episode is with Grammy award-winning composer Eric Whitacre. His music is beloved by people around the world and his ground-breaking Virtual Choir projects have united singers from over 145 different countries. Eric is evangelical about the power of singing, both in-person and virtually, and it’s potential to create both musical and social harmony.

 

We talk about:

-why he’s currently listening to the musical Hamilton on repeat

-how singing Mozart’s Requiem changed his life

-what inspired Eric to create the first virtual choir video in 2010

-why singing with others brings out the best of humanity

-the composition process for ‘Sing Gently’ for Virtual Choir 6

-his use of ‘emotional architecture’ when composing

-his love for Stevie Wonder

 

‘Sing Gently’ Virtual Choir 6

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InULYfJHKI0

 

Eric’s TED Talk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NENlXsW4pM

 

Podcast playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1TWeFKowQ9tCSOEPQ8xmvQ?si=FoCok6QRRfSIyfMMoFtcNQ

 

Follow James on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook.

#7 Jennifer John on empowerment and equality through singing

#7 Jennifer John on empowerment and equality through singing

April 5, 2021

This episode is with Liverpool-based vocal coach, composer and mentor Jennifer John. She is an artist who advocates diversity and inclusion in all of her work and is a firm believer in equality of opportunity for all people and in particular, women. In our conversation, we talk about how this ethos manifests itself across her different projects such as Sense of Sound Singers, Liverpool Complaints Choir and her recent virtual choir composition 'Love Sings.'

 

We talk about:

- the influence of Jennifer’s parents

- tackling inequalities within community music-making and the music industry

- Jennifer’s vision for Sense of Sound as an organisation

- Liverpool Complaints Choir and singing as catharsis

- her composition and virtual choir project ‘Love Sings’

- cultural and musical diversity in Liverpool

- her work in vocal coaching and artistic development

-what inspires Jennifer, both within music and outside of music

 

‘Love Sings From Liverpool’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBKyyyC_ACw

‘We Are She’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sv98ndnyHW0&t=12s

Jennifer’s website

https://www.jenniferjohnmusic.com/

Podcast playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1TWeFKowQ9tCSOEPQ8xmvQ?si=FoCok6QRRfSIyfMMoFtcNQ

James's website:

www.james-sills.com

#6 Chris Wood on songwriting, authenticity and identity

#6 Chris Wood on songwriting, authenticity and identity

March 29, 2021

This episode’s conversation is with award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist Chris Wood. His songs are full of warmth, poetry and observation, infused with a tangible sense of time and place. In this conversation, we discuss his formative experiences as a chorister, authenticity as a singer and his own brand of ‘British Soul,’ plus much more.  

We talk about:

-his creative process as a songwriter

-his experience English choral tradition

-the concept of soul and authenticity in music        

-what we can learn from moths and butterflies

-the human compulsion to create and produce

-finding meaning in the small moments of life

-his love for Tom Waits’s music    

 

‘So Much To Defend’ – studio version

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEy8VCdzwlM

 

‘This Love Won’t Let You Fail’ – live on Radio 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUyg1K20KjE

 

Chris’s music on Bandcamp:

https://chriswoodfolkmusician.bandcamp.com/

 

Podcast playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1TWeFKowQ9tCSOEPQ8xmvQ?si=FoCok6QRRfSIyfMMoFtcNQ

   

James's website:

www.james-sills.com

 

Bonus: mid-series announcement

Bonus: mid-series announcement

March 25, 2021

Thank you to everyone who has listened, subscribed, shared and rated the podcast so far. We've scheduled an additional four episodes for Series One (making ten in total) and in this short announcement James announces the guests for the remaining episodes.

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#5 Marie Benton on breaking down barriers through singing

#5 Marie Benton on breaking down barriers through singing

March 22, 2021

This episode’s conversation is with Marie Benton, founder and CEO of Choir With No Name, a UK charity that runs choirs for those who have been affected by homelessness and marginalisation. We discuss breaking down barriers through singing and the powerful impact that Choir With No Name has on it's members lives.   

We talk about:

-Marie’s singing journey that led to the formation of CWNN

-the first CWNN rehearsal in 2008

-the multiple benefits of group singing and the ripple effect

-the importance of audience participation at CWNN concerts

-the artistic vision and musical integrity of CWNN

-supporting CWNN members during lockdown

-the challenge of online rehearsals

-aspirations for the future of CWNN        

 

Choir With No Name website:

https://www.choirwithnoname.org/  

‘This Is Me’ by Choir With No Name

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOxHNealksA

Article about Choir With No Name: https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/esmagazine/world-homeless-day-meet-the-organisation-combating-homelessness-through-song-a4257936.html  

Wrexham One Love Choir:

https://www.cais.co.uk/services/wrexham-one-love-choir/ 

James’s website:

https://www.james-sills.com/ 

Podcast playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1TWeFKowQ9tCSOEPQ8xmvQ?si=FoCok6QRRfSIyfMMoFtcNQ 

#4 Richard Huntington on finding focus and flow through singing

#4 Richard Huntington on finding focus and flow through singing

March 15, 2021

This episode’s conversation is with Richard Huntington, who is Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer at advertising firm Saatchi and Saatchi. Richard is evangelical about how singing can help you find focus and flow in everyday life. Having been a self-confessed ‘non singer’ for most of his adult life, we discuss how rediscovering his voice at a singing workshop at the Do Lectures in 2018 had a profound impact on his personal life.  

We talk about:

-our relationship with songs as a listener and as a singer (and how these differ)

-Richard’s musical background and why he was ‘agnostic’ about singing

-exploring the relationship between masculinity and singing

-how singing helps us to be fully present and in the moment

-how singing creates the potential for flow

-bringing singing into the workplace for joy and connection

-how singing relates to Cal Newport’s idea of ‘deep work’

-the age of distraction and how singing can help us focus -the joy of the collective experience when singing with others      

 

James’s talk at the Do Lectures:

https://vimeo.com/291831003

‘Sweetest Kick In The Heart’ from the Do Lectures workshop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDBv6qLgl_E  

Richard’s blog post ‘Singing Eats Strategy for Breakfast’ http://www.adliterate.com/2019/03/singing-eats-strategy-for-breakfast/ 

James’s website:

www.james-sills.com

 

#3 Daveed Goldman & Nobu Adilman on building the Choir! Choir! Choir! community

#3 Daveed Goldman & Nobu Adilman on building the Choir! Choir! Choir! community

March 8, 2021

This episode's conversation is with Toronto-based Daveed and Nobu of Choir! Choir! Choir! who have been leading life-affirming singing events across the world for the last ten years. They describe Choir! Choir! Choir! as 'equal parts singing, comedy and comedy building' and have collaborated with artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Patti Smith and David Bryne.

We talk about:

-the evolution of Choir! Choir! Choir!

-redefining the possibilities of what a choir can be

-growing a community organically

-the importance to authenticity

-breaking down barriers between performers and audiences

-their process of choosing and arranging songs 

-reaching a worldwide audience through their videos

-future plans for Choir! Choir! Choir!   

 

'Hallelujah' by C!C!C! with Rufus Wainwright

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGRfJ6-qkr4  

'People Have The Power' by C!C!C! with Patti Smith https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Wz3i_BYUc  

'Never Gonna Give You Up' by C!C!C! with Rick Astley 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJRsWJqDjFE

Podcast playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1TWeFKowQ9tCSOEPQ8xmvQ?si=jhrhKs-rRqikkpFi-IIa4w

James's website:

www.james-sills.com 

 

#2 Helen Russell on singing for happiness, health and hygge

#2 Helen Russell on singing for happiness, health and hygge

March 1, 2021

This episode's conversation is with writer and happiness researcher Helen Russell, author of the best-selling 'My Year Of Living Danishly.'   

 

We talk about:

-definitions of happiness 

-singing as a social exchange rather than musical change

-gilotophobia & how this might relate to singing

-joining a choir and fostering a sense of belonging

-how the singing experience can be described as hygge 

-singing as part of social prescribing programmes 

-Helen's new book: 'How To Be Sad' 

-listening to songs that match our emotional state   

 

Helen's article about the 'Culture Vitamin' programme

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/31/upside-denmark-culture-mental-health-singing-theatre

 

Helen's new book 'How To Be Sad'

https://www.helenrussell.co.uk/books/how-to-be-sad/

 

Podcast playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1TWeFKowQ9tCSOEPQ8xmvQ?si=BDuSUIL5StChmryAy0FQmQ

 

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