Tuesday, 9 September 2014

If it's August, it must be Woapa day!

Those of you that follow my blog are aware that one of my passions is singing. I think that I was born singing. Certainly from the age of about eight years old I performed regularly on stage with a local children's drama group, The St Ninian's Junior Concert Party, which is still going strong and in fact, celebrated its 50th anniversary a few years ago. Then, as an adult, I joined a gospel choir called Chord of Love, which I left when I started my family.

For many years,because of family commitments, illness and a fight with the 'black dog' that is depression I didn't do any singing, not even around the house. Then three years ago I was introduced to the West Oxfordshire Academy of Performing Arts Adult singing Group, Woapa for short, and my life has never been the same since.

We meet every Wednesday evening during term time only. Which means that there's a long gap during the summer holidays when there's no Woapa. Apart from one Sunday in August when they run a singing workshop. We spend the day rehearsing several songs and then perform them in the evening, in front of long suffering family and friends. Every year they choose a different theme. The first year was an Abba day, the second was on West End musicals and this year was Songs from the 80's, ranging from the Bangles, through Whitney Houston, Bananarama, Jason and Kylie, and of course, not forgetting Madonna.

Normally, we don’t have any soloists in the singing group, but on this workshop any frustrated Adele's, Katy Perry's or Madonnas, get their chance to show off their talents. Guess what? I was one of them. After all, I am on a mission to prove that life can still be an adventure.

Me singing my solo.
The first year, I did my best Meryl Streep version of Money, money, money. This was the first time in a great many years that I’d performed a solo in public, apart from the odd karaoke when on holiday. Despite a squeaky start, and I mean that literally, I was rewarded with cheers and a round of applause.  An account of this can be found on my blog titled, Abba day. It may even contain video footage. Last year, I sang, You’re just to good to be true, from Jersey boys. The theme for this year being the 80’s, I chose to do Madonna’s, Crazy for you

There were more soloists this year than ever before, with one or two very nervous first timers. Lindsay, one of them, told me afterwards that by singing a solo in front of an audience, she had faced one of her biggest fears. She recently told me that she's hoping to do it again next year.

Diane and Deryn
Some of the ladies really threw themselves into the day and dressed up in 80's gear. Diane and Deryn, who performed Manic Monday together, certainly threw themselves into the part.

The lovely Brian and Lou.
Brian and Lou, the couple who run Woapa, had been up until at least midnight the night before, working out the backing singers' parts and harmonies. Yet, you would never have known how tired they must have been, from the enthusiastic way they threw themselves into the day.

Preparing for the performance
The rehearsal went well, the only hitch being a problem with the lighting, but Brian, with the help of one of the young Woapa tutors, soon had it sorted. Then tired, but excited, we finished rehearsing and prepared ourselves for the performance, some of the ladies retiring to the pub for a bit of 'Dutch courage.'

My certificate.
Then it was time for the performance. As family and friends gathered in the hall, we were backstage being presented with our certificates to mark our attendance on the day. Then, lights, camera, action, belting out Whitney Houston's 'Don't you wanna dance', we were off.

Pam doing her saxophone 'solo.'
After what seemed like only five minutes, it was all over. The final song, 'I've had the time of my life', from Dirty dancing, was greeted by rapturous applause by the captive audience. Especially the 'saxaphone solo' mimed by Pam, using a pink inflatable saxophone. I think it's fair to say that a good time was had by all. Practising and performing fourteen songs in one day is hard work, but so much fun. I can't wait to do it again next year. I wonder what the theme will be then?

For the finale, here is a video of me performing 'Crazy for you'. I don't think that Madonna has anything to worry about. :) Plus the added bonus of a video of my personal favourite, 'You're just too good to be true',  with apologies for the poor quality of the video.


Photos of the day by kind permission of Diane Iverson.
Pam's saxophone photo, Brian from Woapa
Video courtesy of my long suffering hubby, Donald.


  1. Isabel, it sounds absolutely fantastic! I wish the video would play, would love to hear you.
    Best wishes

    1. Hi Sharon. Thanks for your lovely comment. I'm sorry that you can't get the video to play. I've just clicked on the link and it worked. You could try doing a search on YouTube. Isabel Johnstone Crazy for you.