Joining a Kirkcaldy choir has proved to be a lifeline for a number of local women who have credited the Cloud 9s with helping them to get through some of the most difficult times in their lives.
The Sing in the City evening choir group has been hitting the high notes ever since it was launched in the town three years ago.
And it has been so successful, that a new daytime Sing in the City choir has recently been formed in Kirkcaldy, meeting every Thursday morning in Templehall Community Centre from 10am to noon.
Next Friday night (September 7) the 80 members of the Cloud 9s will perform their second sell-out concert in the Adam Smith Theatre and it is clear when you watch them rehearse that the members are enjoying every single minute of it.
However, it isn’t until you start speaking to them that you realise a love of singing is just one of the reasons why they pay to come back to St Peter’s Episcopal Church every Monday night from 7-9pm.
Sheila Macrae from Kirkcaldy has been a member of the Cloud 9s since January 2016. She said: “Sing in the City is very inclusive of age and ability and it helped me get through a pretty dark time in my life.
“When I joined, my husband had just died. He had been suffering from dementia and I was still caring for my wonderful 95-year-old father. My friend, who can sing, mentioned she was joining the choir.”
Sheila went with her and it changed her life. She continued: “It was great to sing my heart out with a group of very friendly people and to be made to smile! The last two years have been a challenge for me both mentally and physically. My father died and I went from being very busy and needed, to being at home alone. Then I had bowel cancer (she now has the all-clear) followed by a hernia operation and infection.
“Everyone goes through challenges in their life but joining the choir and singing on stage in front of an audience has certainly helped me in every way. I’m no spring chicken so if I can be in a choir anyone can! It is great.”
While another member Sandra Gibb revealed that singing with the Cloud 9s helped her deal with some serious health problems.
She said: “I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and had a lot of health issues with it. I discovered I had the BRCA 2 breast cancer gene and had a double mastectomy as well as my ovaries and my fallopian tubes removed to reduce my chances of the cancer re-occurring.
“My confidence was pretty low as a result, but coming along to the choir helped me so much. Singing makes you feel better and when I leave the group on a Monday night I am on such a high! Singing has helped me get through it all.”
Elaine Dove, manager and choir coach, said she has seen first-hand the benefits members have gained: “We have had people who have said they have reduced the medication they take and we tend to find that singing is actually fourth or fifth on their list for reasons they come along.
“Some of our members are carers and this gives them some time for themselves and they feel so much better for it. Other people who have struggled with depression or other mental health issues have said being part of the choir has actually helped them.
“But there is a social aspect to the choirs as well, as people can come along and have a blether and get to meet new people.”
She continued: “We had 20 people come along to the Kirkcaldy daytime choir on the first day and we recently had a young girl come along with her 11-week old baby.
“Normally we don’t have young children at our choirs, but this girl had been let down by childcare at the last minute but she had wanted to come along so she brought her baby with her. It is nice for young mums like her to be able to attend. We are using it as a trial to see if it can work with mums bringing along their babies. All the ladies adore this young girl’s baby and she won’t be short of babysitters!”
Elaine added: “You don’t have to have an ability to sing, there are no auditions. If you enjoy singing you are more than welcome to come along. What we always say is just come with a smile. It is amazing the amount of times people have told me that joining our choir has changed their life.”
Musical director and founder
Kirsty Baird (above) is the founder of Sing in the City and musical director. She started the business eight years ago in Edinburgh. She is supported by Annette Hanley, musical director and band leader. Kirsty said: “It didn’t take me long to work out that people join choirs for multiple reasons that have nothing to do with a love of music but more to do with real life situations that have become overwhelming like illness, bereavement, relationship and work issues. Being in a choir allows members to be a part of something special.” For more information, including joining fees, visit: https://singinthecity.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org book a free trial.