Around The World In Song

ATW2018 flyer

Vauxhall Voices and Sydenham Singers invite you to a journey ‘Around The World In Song’ at Wheatsheaf Hall, SW8 2UP, on Saturday 24th November at 6pm.

There’ll be food, of course, with Ozzie’s Creole Cafe taking advance bookings here, and an evening of acapella singing to whisk you away on a voyage across the globe.

We start in Mali, then head south east across Africa, passing Nigeria, Cameroon, DRC, Angola, Namibia and Botswana to South Africa, with a song from the guerrilla movement during apartheid. 

Across we hop over the Atlantic to South America. In Brazil, we land in the neighbouring states of Bahia and Minas Gerais, then fly over the Amazon and Venezuela to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, stopping in Jamaica for a song by the island’s most cherished son. 

To Freeport, Louisiana, home of American folk and blues music in the early 1900s. Onwards to Jackson, Mississippi, one of several key locations during the civil rights movements of the 1960s. North to New York state, just south of Lake Ontario, for a chant commemorating the indigenous Seneca people. 

West past Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon, and a hop, skip and jump over the Pacific to sing an earth blessing on the tropical islands of Hawaii. From one island nestled amid vast stretches of Ocean, we now head to the South Pacific and beautiful Aotearoa, or New Zealand, for a powerful Maori song about uniting different cultures.

After honouring the indigenous people and white settlers of Australia, we then head north, passing Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Japan before arriving in Korea to sing a peace prayer.

Crossing the vast lands of China, Kashmir, Pakistan and Afghanistan, we reach Iran and a Farci harvest song. Then a somewhat shorter journey, just 1,600 miles and only 30 hours by car according to Google maps, via Tehran, Azerbaijan and Armenia before experiencing the polyphonic perfection of Georgian music. 

We take the coastal road through northern Turkey and Istanbul, heading north east towards the traditional Romany lands of Bulgaria, Macedonia and Serbia to sing a beautiful Roma Gypsy song.

Passing Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovenia, we hit Western Europe for a song with roots in both France and Spain.

Get your thermals out. We’re off to northern Finland, where the Sámi people live, for a yoik based on one of their calls.

Close to home now as we skip over Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the UK and to the green shores of Ireland for some gorgeous ballads.

Finally back on UK shores, it’s time for a bit of jolly old Wassailing!

It’s only £6 per person, £12 with food and all profits go to Oasis Play, a fantastic local children’s charity. Saturday 24th November, 6pm. Wheatsheaf Hall, SW8 2UP. Book tickets here.

That kind of choir in that kind of place

After watching a few minutes of video from my first ‘gig’ with Vauxhall Voices in the Fentiman Arms last summer, an old friend remarked ‘It’s almost like someone deliberately set out to make a choir representing a wide range of tall, short, big, small, old and young people from a mix of nationalities.’  *First published 07/12/2016


I told him Lambeth is just that kind of place, and Vauxhall Voices that kind of choir.

Following a failed first attempt to regularly attend practice at the start of the year, I made it back for another go in spring and have barely missed one since, with two hours singing to the heart’s content every Monday evening a great way to face into the week.

Hooked, I signed up to perform with 600 others at ‘Sing for Water’ outside the Mayor’s office in September, helping to raise money for wells in Africa and filling the Vauxhall Voices-less late summer with more practice.

I’ve always sung, from being a willing-yet-somehow-put-upon boy soprano to playing rhythm guitar and fronting a rock band in my early twenties, admittedly after all other lead singer options had been exhausted.

Neither experience prepared me for the challenge of singing bass in a choir, and it is a challenge – particularly at the start of term when learning one of four different parts to each song, all taught by our fantastic choir leader Janna Goodwille at a pretty ferocious speed.


Thankfully, everybody’s in the same boat and eager to help, with the regular members – most of them locals or ex-locals who always make up at least half the group – a conscientious bunch keen to sing with as many people as possible.

I started mixing in singing tenor at the start of this term and really enjoy the new challenge, though my voice gets so weak and thin after an hour or more of reaching for high notes, I end up longing for the next low one.

Vauxhall Voices is a secular choir, yet there’s just no escaping the odd hallelujah (nobody writes songs about Nietzsche…), and Janna is part of the NVPN Natural Voice Network, whose ‘mission statement’ holds that singing is everyone’s birthright regardless of musical experience or ability.

The group is as diverse as the area and we have performed in the Fentiman and Bonnington Square Gardens – a tiny ‘secret’ park locals pack out in the summer – since I joined, with Vauxhall Park and Wheatsheaf Hall among previous venues.


Vauxhall Voices is hosting its annual ‘Spirit and Sparkle’ Xmas concert with Brockley Voices and the incredible GMT Brass Ensemble at Wheatsheaf Hall off the South Lambeth Road on Sunday, December 18th from 4-6pm (Doors @ 3.30).

We’ll be singing the Xmas Blues, as well as Gospel, Taize, Fijian, Xhosa and even some Blur – all in aid of the #RefugeesWelcome campaign, run by Citizens UK.