This relatively young choir has only been going since May Day 2010. They sing on picket lines, at rallies and demonstrations, community events and street festivals. LSS do sing on the streets, but don’t busk for money. Young they may be, but LSS consciously build on a long tradition of music in working class struggles against oppression. The choir is inclusive and welcomes new recruits with no auditions.
CD was born in Liverpool in 1948 and singing was as tradition in her family, everyone had three or four songs to sing at a party, but CD was not allowed to join the school choir. In the 1970s CD encountered and was influenced by Big Flame, a socialist-feminist revolutionary group founded in Liverpool.
'By the early seventies I was going on a lot of demonstrations and I got really, really, really tired of just shouting things…. There isn’t any point in political action unless it makes a connection with somebody who hadn’t thought about it before, and that kind of opens a pathway between you and them, and that is heartening. So, I thought that (a choir singing on a 2003 Stop the War march) was wonderful.'
'At the Royal Liverpool Hospital, which is being replaced by a P.F.I. building which is going to provide half the number of beds, at a phenomenal cost, forever…. On the days when there have been national strikes, we’ve gone round the whole building singing to the pickets, which makes an enormous difference to them. Especially the ones, you know, at a back door, who feel nobody’s seeing them, and are they really making any difference? And then a big pile of us go round there and sing - usually in the rain, usually in the cold – they really love it.'
'I don’t like crude politics. I like songs that are inviting people in to do something somehow; that are giving them an idea about how they might resist or how they might change things. And also there’s celebrational songs, like Rosa’s Lovely Daughters’, which are saying yes you can resist and yes you can change things. I much prefer that to songs that are ridiculing - anything, because they may be fun for a moment but what they don’t do is take people on to another idea, another way of doing things… Anger is really important because it does generate change but it has to be directed into something beyond anger… Making people laugh is fine, but the best songs make people laugh and think.'
'On N30 (November 30th 2011 day of action on public sector pensions) we had a massive demonstration in Liverpool. We were up on the top of the steps of St George’s Hall. We sang lots of songs, but we sang Raise Your banners and it was magnificent this absolute sea of banners just shot into the air, and it was so moving, it was a brilliant, brilliant demonstration that. On all the big demonstrations, we’ve been there, usually at the front, and we’re always there at the rally, and we’re always singing. And if we weren’t there, there would be a lot of people looking around, you know… Because in 5 years we have become a real institution.'
BJ was born in Stockport in 1951 and moved to Liverpool in 2003, drawn by her love of The Beatles. Having failed an audition for the school choir, BJ only started to sing as a supporter at Liverpool games. She ‘bumped into’ LSS on an International Women’s Day sing and has been a member since 2011. ‘I like singing outdoors. It sounds a bit crazy, but it’s a bit like going to football, it’s a similar kind of audience. Well, you get an audience but it’s like you’re taking part in something that’s, you know, you don’t feel self conscious because everyone’s joining in. In a choir setting that’s more formal, sometimes I’ve felt a bit self-conscious.’
‘We sang in Trafalgar Square two or three years ago, at the TUC march, and that was great. There were quite a few choirs: Red Leicester, Sea Green Singers from Oxford, Birmingham and Nottingham. That was really good.’
‘I think it (the choir) sort of lightens up political events, because some of those rallies can get a bit heavy. After you’ve heard half a dozen speakers they’re all the same. I think people need a bit of refreshment and we do that, but we sing about serious things.’
‘Some people sneer a bit at football supporters, but it’s a very untapped source… Football could be a means of getting the revolution together…. I’d like to see a lot of choirs….. try to make links with supporters.’
JK was born in 1950 and singing was always part of family life. Instead of watching TV, the family listened to music and Pete Seeger, the Weavers and later Joan Baez were favourites. Before moving to Liverpool and LSS, JK sung with Raised Voices for 3 years and Strawberry Thieves for 14 years.
'I think we're part of the political culture of Liverpool. Whether we make a difference, I don't know, but I know that when we have done, for example, the NHS stuff, those people who’re on strike there are very, very pleased to see us and really think it's great.’
'I'd like to see the choirs grow and every town having one... it's a great movement, used to be, I mean the Workers' Music Association, they used to have, they used to have choirs all over the UK and now they've only got about three left. And then all over the UK choirs were a big thing but that could have been, perhaps more people were involved in grassroots politics and also, it was before the era of TV and the mass media and people stuck to their laptops and their i-phones etcetera.’
'What workplace choirs do, I think is probably encourage people to sing...and let them know they can do it and you don't have to a brilliant voice to sing in a choir. It might then mean they'll, well if they are a bit political and they come across a choir like ours, well actually, yes, I could join up, because often it's confidence that people are lacking.'
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