The Urban Arts Studio in St Annes burst into life in July when a choir of ladies with a big rockin’ attitude sung their way through an appealing menu of some of the most iconic rock songs by female artists.

It was a sold-out house at this cosy St Annes venue for the first full-length concert by the Women Rockin’ Harmony Choir, based in Bispham. Experienced choir director Tanya Laurence has been putting this group of singing women through their paces since she formed the choir in February 2022.

For all us would-be rock chicks the programme was like a playlist of all the tunes you’ve always wanted to sing plus a few extra surprises. If you’ve ever put these songs on full blast in your bedroom, seized your hairbrush like a star and posed in front of the mirror as your favourite singer, then you would be envious of this feisty group. They were truly living the dream as they blasted through favourites like Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves, Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, All the Single Ladies, and Cher’s Shoop Shoop Song, to name a few.

Director, Laurence has many years of experience running choirs and for her latest project she has also penned some of the arrangements herself – a long and demanding task. The choir’s compelling acapela rendition of Emilie Sande’s Clown was one such number when the ladies sang in five part harmony. A fantastic achievement, especially for those members who had hitherto not sung in public before.

The often complex choreography added an extra dimension to the show making it not only a fabulous listening experience but also a visual delight. In Cyndi Lauper’s Time after Time the arm-ography was mesmerising. For Shania Twain’s Man I feel like a Woman the ladies launched into a hat and cane routine which went like a Fred and Ginger dream (without the tap dancing, but perhaps that’s next year?).

In the second half soloists emerged to perform in several of the songs, showing off the talent that is embedded in the choir. Killing Me Softly featured three of the ladies stepping up to the microphone to charm us, and later three more soloists stepped into the spotlight to strut their stuff as they were featured in Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart.

The often complex choreography added an extra dimension to the show making it not only a fabulous listening experience but also a visual delight.

Laurence herself put down her proverbial baton and teamed up with her assistant director, Jackie Speight, for their lively and aptly chosen duet, It Takes Two, supported by the swaying choir in the background. And Laurence showcased her own solo singing talents, the fruits of a lifetime on the stage, with her heartfelt version of Flowers by Miley Cyrus.

Other highlights were Adele’s Skyfall, Pixie Lott’s Cry Me Out and the absolutely essential Abba Medley.

The concert concluded with a tribute to the late Tina Turner with Proud Mary, bringing the show to the big finale. And they couldn’t refuse to give an encore as the audience gave them a huge ovation. So we were treated to a full-on energetic version of Joan Jett’s I love Rock n Roll which we all absolutely did.

Tanya Laurence and Jackie Speight have worked hard to not only make the choir performance-ready with weekly rehearsals at Scream theatre school in Blackpool, but have also made themselves known on the networking scene. The choir is fast becoming in demand to sing at events. Their recent appearances include International Women’s Day, Race for Life on Blackpool Promenade when they entertained the crowds and the runners, a Christmas jingle for Fylde Coast Radio, backing vocals for a major installation of LightPool 22, and their debut at Lytham Festival of Choirs.

All proceeds from ticket sales and raffle on the night went to Headway Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde, a local charity which supports brain injury survivors, their families and carers. The choir has made this their chosen charity this year and plan to do more fundraising in the autumn.

Women Rockin’ Harmony Choir’s new season begins in September, with the women rehearsing every Wednesday evening at Scream theatre school, and a new choir opening in Lytham St. Anne’s.

To find out more about joining or to book the choirs for events email: [email protected] and follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

Meanwhile I’m off to find my eyeliner and hairbrush for a bit of a rockin’ singsong in my bedroom mirror.

Photo credit: David Speight. L to R Samantha Ashcroft (Headway), Jackie Speight (assistant director), Tanya Laurence (Choir director) + members of Women Rockin’ Harmony Choir, Bispham.


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