Soundroutes community choirs
A talented Motherwell musician is the driving force behind a unique charity CD release – which features the vocal talents of inmates from a West Lothian prison.
Flautist Shona Brown, a former BBC Young Musician of the Year, runs the choir at HMP Addiewell and last week launched the Changing Key EP to raise funds for homeless charity Shelter Scotland.
Members of Shona’s SoundRoutes’ community choirs had previously joined the 12 inmates to record the four-track CD, the first to feature a prison choir group in Scotland.
A packed audience at Glasgow’s Mitchell Theatre was on hand to witness Shona (28), being joined by singers from across Lanarkshire at the official launch. A 150-strong choir, featuring singers from Motherwell, Carluke, Hamilton and Glasgow, were in fine voice as they performed.
Shona explained: “This is the first time we’ve done anything like this and it was fantastic. They made quite a sound. It’s also the first time a prison choir has released a CD in this country.
“We thought it would be really good to release something that would raise money for charity and Shelter Scotland seemed really appropriate because it helps a lot of people who come out of prison and who need re-homed.”
Back in May, 40 singers from Shona’s Lanarkshire choir groups visited the Addiewell prison to record with the inmates. Shona enthused: “That was amazing. It was a very challenging thing to set up – the logistics were really difficult with security and things like that – but it was so exciting.
“I think everyone was really apprehensive, it was quite daunting for everyone involved – everyone was out with their comfort zone. But it was really rewarding.
“The prison choir obviously can’t go out and do concerts, so it seemed a really natural thing to do a record working alongside the community, building those community bridges. I’d have loved to have videoed the recording but obviously for security reasons we couldn’t.”
She went on: “There are some really talented singers in the prison choir. One man in particular, who sings the Who track Behind Blue Eyes was incredible. He’s only 20 and had never sung before but he has a real gift.”
The EP also features songs such as Movin’ On Up and Amazing Grace.
Shona added: “I’d like to thank our sponsors Motherwell Pharmacy and Sodexo Justice Services, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible.”
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “This is a truly transformational project that brings together people on very different sides of the track and unites them in a common purpose - singing for pleasure and raising money for charity. Times are hard right now with funding for our vital services constantly under threat, meaning every penny we receive is vital. I thank everyone involved.”
Changing Key, SoundRoutes singers with Addiewell Prison choir, is available to download from Amazon and iTunes. All proceeds to Shelter Scotland.