About Unity Choir

Singing

Escapism

Laughter

Friendship

Unity is a mixed voice community choir. We are based in the Sunderland Coalfields area of Houghton-le-Spring; half-way between Durham and Sunderland city centres, approximately 7 miles or 15 minutes from both.

We sing a wide range of uplifting, feel-good music in a wide range of musical styles. Our weekly sessions teach us about our voices, build our confidence and prepare us to perform as a group. Pre-COVID, we performed a couple of times each term and often took part in local community events. We're a super friendly bunch of adults with around 40 members aged 18 - 90.

Our mission is to spread our love of group singing and prove that EVERYONE has a voice. We focus on wellbeing - singing to the best of our ability whilst having a lot of fun along the way and regularly socialise together. We think of ourselves as one big family and look forward to welcoming new singers during our termly taster sessions.

Unity Choir, led by The Singing Elf, Summer Gala, The Hetton Centre, July 2018
Celebrations after Unity's Summer Gala Peformance 2018

Our Members

Unity is a choir for adults who love to sing but aren't sure if they're any good! We welcome all abilities including complete beginners and 'I can't' singers as well as returning voices. There's no audition, you don't need to be able to read music and you will never be required to sing on your own. Lots of our members hadn't sung for a long time, if at all before joining us. We focus on what you can do, not what you can't and help you to enjoy the voice you have now. Our members come from all walks of life with a good mix of ages from 18 - 90. Like many community choirs we have lots more women than men but would love to increase our male section! All new singers receive a very warm welcome at their first session.

Our History

Unity Choir was formed in September 2017 after a 4 week 'Find Your Voice' course with 12 original members. At the start none of us really believed we would be any good as a choir, we were just a group of people coming together to learn to sing. But 6 weeks after forming, our trusty Elf Rebecca gave us the confidence to perform for the very first time as the 'support act' for another choir visiting the village. We only sang one song - 'Only You' by Flying Pickets. We were terrified but we came off that stage 3 minutes later feeling a massive buzz and asking 'what's next?'

This really sums up our journey - each term we try something new, prove to ourselves that we can do it (after a lot of guidance and support from our vocal tutors) and then ask 'what's next?' Every term is different, we don't allow ourselves to get stuck in set patterns but instead evolve over time.

Everything Unity does is guided by the ideas and feedback of our members under the expert leadership of our leaders. Rebecca and Sinead' energetic approach always engage us in the next challenge. Never more so than when we were given the amazing opportunity to sing at Durham Cathedral as part of Durham Vocal Festival in 2019. We would NEVER have believed that a bunch of people who aren't sure if they can sing would perform at a World Heritage Site, but we did and actually, we sounded pretty good too!

Like other choirs across the world, the COVID pandemic meant that we were not able to sing together in person. The week before the first lockdown, we started meeting on Zoom, and continued to sing together online for 77 weeks until the summer of 2021. With plenty of support on hand for the less tech-savvy, and with help from our tutors, we sang our way through the pandemic. As we come back to singing together in person again, we can definitely look back on 2020/21 and know that we can handle whatever life throws at us.

Unity Choir, led by The Singing Elf, Jubilee Hall, October 2017
Unity's first performance at Jubilee Hall in West Rainton - October 2017
Unity Choir. led by The Singing Elf, performing at Durham Vocal Festival at Durham Cathedral Feb 2019
Unity performing at Durham Vocal Festival in Durham Cathedral - February 2019
Enoying one of our Zoom rehearsals during lockdown.
Enoying one of our Zoom rehearsals during lockdown.
Unity Choir, led by The Singing Elf Social Trips
Unity Breast Cancer Awareness

Our Ethos

Unity is an inclusive choir that aims to help singers overcome their personal barriers to singing. 40% of our singers have a physical or mental health condition or disability, identify as neurodiverse or are affected by a cognitive or memory related condition.  At Unity we do everything we can to support everyone in a way that's accessible for them. We see the ability not the disability and strive to help everyone achieve their personal goals.

Many of our new singers are extremely anxious about singing with a group. They may have had previous negative experiences of singing when their voices have been criticised or they really aren't sure if they'll be 'any good'. Sharing your voice is an extremely intimate thing to do as it's sharing a part of you. We know that it often takes a lot of courage just to walk through the door into your first session and are there to support you every step of the way.

©2019 The Singing Elf

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The Singing Elf Ltd, Trading as The Singing Elf Social Enterprise, Company No. 12246373.

Registered Office: The Old Rectory, The Broadway, Houghton-le-Spring, DH4 4BB, United Kingdom