Human stories revealed behind Rock Up and Sing! choir

There are many reasons why people join ‘rock choirs’ - and not all of them are about the music or the glory of the limelight!

Thursday, 10th December 2015, 10:46 am
Rock Up and Sing! choir member Ruth Russell.

Fifty years ago, if you were looking to kick-start your life after bereavement, divorce or other less traumatic reasons, you might take up bridge or start visiting the Darby and Joan club.

Nowadays, more and more people are turning to choral singing, though the repertoire is more often than not chart toppers from the world of rock, pop and soul music rather than traditional choral pieces.

Musical director Rhiannon Gayle set up Rock Up and Sing just six years ago and has watched it grow from a handful of members to a family of four adult community choirs a talented events choir, and an energetic youth choir.

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Rock Up and Sing! choir member Richard Hayter.

In total is now has 400 members.

Rock Up and Sing! choirs now meet in Harrogate on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and in Skipton on Monday nights.

It’s about more than just the joy of singing. The members we spoke to included in this feature are all going through different life experiences.

Here are the stories of two of its members. . .


Ruth Russell, aged 63, of Harrogate has been married to David for a year and has two grown-up sons. She is retired and joined Rock Up about five years ago.

Ruth’s story

“I had friends who sing and they mentioned it and it sounded great fun. I went along with another friend and loved it from the first time I sang.

“It gave me a good feeling as I was undergoing chemotherapy and it took away any thoughts of my illness whilst singing.

Singing also helps control breathing and takes away any stress I might have.

“Sometimes when on chemotherapy, and I can’t sing so much, I still go along to meet friends and they always cheer me up.

“There have been lots of highlights but I really enjoyed singing at the Harrogate Conference Centre when my family were able to see me sing.

“No matter how I feel when I set off from home, by the time I return I feel exhilarated and happy.


Richard Hayter, aged 61, is a chartered accountant from Harrogate. He celebrated his 60th birthday by marrying Jojo. Both have children. He joined Rock Up in April 2015.

Richard’s story

“I used to sing in my younger days and always enjoyed it.

“I wasn’t aware of Rock Up & Sing! until we went to see a performance at the Harrogate International Centre. They were very professional and I was surprised that it wasn’t necessary to audition.

“It seems that singing in the shower in the morning and on rugby trips was sufficient experience to join Rock Up!”

“I have noticed that my breathing has improved since I joined the choir, so there are obvious health benefits from singing regularly!

“At traffic lights it does attract some strange looks from other drivers who pull up beside someone singing a bass line to Bat out of Hell at 10 decibels.

“Having heard from other members about previous trips they have made - Prague, New York and Abbey Road - I can’t wait for the trips planned for next year to perform at some beautiful venues.

“The buzz from being on the stage in front of an audience is something I’d never really experienced before.”