Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Abba day

In this blog I'm writing about the Abba day I attended last July. Last year as part of my new beginnings I joined the West Oxfordshire Academy of Performing Arts Adult Singing Group, Woapa for short. I've previously blogged about some of the experiences I've already enjoyed since joining. Brian and Lou, the lovely couple who run Woapa decided to organise a day when anyone who wanted to could attend and spend the day singing songs from Mamma Mia. My idea of Heaven!

Sunday dawned with the sun making one of this summer's rare appearances. I was going to miss it as I would be inside all day, but did I care? Not at all; I was going to be spending the day singing Abba songs :). You may have sensed by now that I was just a 'teeny weeny 'bit excited, although there was a part of me that was dreading it at the same time. This was due to the fact that I had, in the spirit of challenging myself, put my name forward to perform a solo! Many, many moons ago, in my youth I had been part of the St Ninian's Concert Party who put on variety shows and pantomimes and sang my first solo, Singing in the rain, at the tender age of eight years old. I then progressed to a Gospel choir but ill health and children put a stop to my singing days.

But I digress, back to Abba. I guess there were about 30 of us, mainly female but with one brave male, apart from Brian and his son Eddie who operated the sound system. Everyone was as excited and pleased to be there as I was. Bizarrely we began the day by going outside and doing some exercises led by one of the Woapa dance teachers! We then went back inside to begin the real business of the day. After doing the usual voice warm up exercises the session began with a very nervous and brave young lady called Phoebe stepping forward to take the lead solo in Honey, Honey. She started off very tentative and quiet but as her confidence grew there emerged a lovely youthful melodic sound. After she finished she was rewarded by rapturous applause and cheers from the rest of the choir who had been singing the backing parts. Before the day we had been sent a list of the songs we'd be singing. Honey, Honey was first on the list. Second on the list was Money, Money Money, the song I had been given as a solo.  If we were going to be doing the songs in the order set out in the list, that meant I would be next! It was with this realisation that a feeling of dread settled itself in the pit of my stomach accompanied by a nauseous feeling. When we had sung Honey, Honey to Lou's satisfaction, the shaking started. This was it! Lou then announced that we would be singing Dancing Queen next. Instead of relief I actually felt disappointed and even more nervous as by this time I just wanted to get on and get it over with. Once we'd finished Dancing Queen, Lou then said that we should take a 15 minute break. Was she deliberately trying to torture me!

Finally, after the break Lou said that we were doing Money, Money, Money and that I had very bravely, (more like foolishly) said that I was going to be singing this as a solo. With fear and trepidation I stepped forward to the microphone. Oh yes it was all done in a proper show biz manner. They had been gentle with Phoebe and everyone had sung her song through together to begin with, but Lou said that I was going to sing it through first and then she would teach them the backing parts! Ok, this was it. When practising at home I had realised that the backing track Brian had sent me was in a lower key than the Mamma Mia CD I had been singing along too. It was at the very bottom of my range but I could do it, although I would have been more comfortable if it had been in the slightly higher key. My first attempt was not the success I'd dreamt of lol. It proved too low for my voice at 11am in the morning. I stopped and apologised to Lou. She, bless her, said that it was quite low but that I'd sounded sexy! I still laugh when I remember this. I started again and with practise my performance improved, I just kept thinking 'sexy' when singing the low notes. When we finished my song I too was rewarded by claps and cheers. everyone was so nice and supportive. One lady said that she had cried when she heard me sing. Not sure how to take that!

The rest of the day passed very quickly with more brave souls stepping forward to sing solos. some like Phoebe and myself sang the main part of the song with others sharing a few lines of songs like Mamma Mia itself and Thank You For The Music. All too soon the day had come to an end. At least the practising. Family and friends had been invited to arrive at 7pm and we were to perform all the songs we had been practising during the day. Time for the nerves to kick in big time!

When we were all gathered Lou announced us and explained that as we had only just learnt the songs that day, it was not a concert as such. More like a group of children showing their proud parents what they had been learning at school that day. Phoebe started us off again and was amazing. This time I was second up. Being mindful that I was among friends I decided to not be nervous and just go for it-and go for it and I did. Only too early! In my eagerness to perform I came in too soon. Lou looked at me shaking her head, at making cutting gestures across her throat! I couldn't believe it. Not once during the 4 times we'd rehearsed it had I got the timing       wrong. Never the less, like the true trouper I am lol, I came in at the right time and the rest as they say is history. Despite my little faux pas I really enjoyed the experience. I love singing, always have done.

The rest of the performance went by in a flash. Brian and Lou had once again performed their magic and turned a group of all ages of women, plus Tom, into something reasonably like a choir. We ended the evening with a performance of Waterloo to which Brian had taught us some choreography. This involved us standing in pairs alternately facing each other, standing back to back and sometimes facing the audience. Organised chaos is the best way to describe this but everyone just laughed and gave us a massive applause anyway.

Thus ended our day of experiencing what it's like to be Abba. It was a fun filled and challenging day and I can't wait for the next one, whatever it may be. Thanks Lou and Brian for fulfilling this Flash Mobbing Granny's fantasy of being a star for a day.

1 comment :

  1. Excellent - what a great experience!! Well done Isabel