A Liverpool vocal coach is using singing to empower others by creating a global virtual choir and raising funds for some of the city’s most vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jennifer John was inspired by a song she had written years ago, but which would take on an entirely new meaning for her in March 2020.
Wanting to encapsulate the joy of music as something that we can all share in, she wrote: We’re celebrating love. We’re celebrating peace. We’re celebrating all of life and all that we believe in.
As the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the UK entering its first strict national lockdown and live music events were cancelled and other creative industries ground to a halt; when suddenly singers were unable to gather to sing together, Jennifer knew she needed to do something.
In April 2020, she began looking for new ways to bring people together. She began by recruiting a group of people, of any and all abilities, who were passionate about singing.
She sent out invitations to people from all across the world asking them to take part, writing: “It’s just about people singing together even if they have never sung before and creating a positive global sense of community.”
“It’s just about people singing together, even if they have never sung before, and creating a positive global sense of community”
The song was to become the basis of a global community project, sung by a virtual choir made up of 180 people from 15 different countries with a video combining the many singers who took part which was produced by Zut Media and mixed by Parr Street Studios.
‘Love Sings’ raised vital funds for local community projects which included The Florrie in Toxteth which has been supporting some of the most vulnerable people in Liverpool experiencing food poverty.
This was just a first for Jennifer, who in the second lockdown turned her sights to even more new creative challenges, building on her career as a musician, mentor and vocal coach to enable, motivate and inspire others to come together and to make a positive difference to people’s lives.
Jennifer creates projects with an ethos of inclusion and diversity at their heart. She strives for equal opportunity for all and the empowerment of other people.
“It’s always been central to everything I do, multi-culturalism, in all of its facets. Not just to do with where you come from in the world, but to do with gender equality, to do with LGBT rights, and to do with breaking down differences between people based on their life situations.”
More recently, Jennifer has begun her next project, ‘Breaking the Record’, which aims to inspire young women aged between 16 and 25. It will aim to create another virtual choir but the difference is that the women taking part will help Jennifer to write the song through their discussions.
“It’s just to get people to talk about themselves and to think in a really positive way. It’s a real procreation, a real collaboration, to help women to feel confident about themselves.”
For Jennifer, being a vocal coach is not just about teaching people to sing. Jennifer takes seriously her passion for young people and education and strives to make a real difference. She sits on Liverpool City Region’s Music Hub and the education hub Song Merseyside, enabling young people to use creativity to develop their emotional intelligence and to prevent all of the ‘isms’ that divide us and to address them.
“It’s really important to know who you are because it gives you a foundation of confidence that it’s easy to forgo”
“I do a lot of artist development. For people who actually are singers or want to be, we look at who they are and we get to the heart of who people are first and then look at adding the technique.
“I actually believe it’s really important to know who you are because it gives you a foundation of confidence that it’s easy to forgo based on a set of other people’s opinions and external influences.
“It’s really important that you have a real sense of who you are and understand the value of yourself going into the world because it creates a solid foundation for you to go through life happily, rather than unhappily.”
Jennifer takes this seriously within her own life, focusing on her own mind-body-spirit practices and personal philosophy.
“It’s the thing that teaches me the most. I like philosophy and I like to listen to all the things that connect us as human beings.”
She walks every day, exercises every day, meditates every day and thinks – all the time.
“For me, my creativity is not separate from my heart and so it’s got to make sense and have an authenticity that I do for me, to feel like I’m doing the best I can do.”
“That mutual exchange of connection and interaction is really, really important. It teaches us to listen better, but it also teaches us to have the confidence to speak.”
Jennifer has thought through her own three-tier system to inspire others to go out and make a difference within their communities. The three tiers are as follows:
The first is conversation. “Unless you talk to someone,” she says “you don’t know how they feel and they don’t know how you feel. That mutual exchange of connection and interaction is really, really important. It teaches us to listen better, but it also teaches us to have the confidence to speak.”
The second stage is creativity. “Something has got to happen with the conversation, otherwise it’s just conversation for conversation’s sake.” After the conversation comes collaboration. “That’s the thing we do as creatives, to bring people together, which I think is really important.”
The third stage, “it’s to acknowledge how we all felt about the experience and to ask the questions – well, what would we like to see next? – and forever try to keep that level of engagement going.”
Jennifer continues to use her creativity to inspire others, but what inspires her?
“To be honest, I appreciate life, I really do, and I try not to take things for granted. Creativity is everything to me and I live a fully creative life. I’m very lucky in that sense.”
You can listen to Jennifer John’s Love Sings video here where you can also subscribe to her YouTube account for more creative conversations. You can also find out more about her latest projects on her website Jennifer John Music at http://jenniferjohnmusic.com