I never in a million years thought I would ever perform at the world (and therefore universe) premiere of an original piece of music. But this week, my alto tones joined the harmony made by 200 others in the unofficial anthem for a very special Olympic team.
It’s been four years since the country was overtaken by Olympic fever as we (and I mean Team Yorkshire) mopped up the medals, gathering the golds like they were going out of fashion.
A lot has happened since then and the world has become a less safe place. Atrocities and terrorism have featured in the news so often that they are no longer headlines. People who were living ordinary lives found themselves driven from their homes, their loved ones and their countries becoming homeless and stateless, living on the charity and goodwill of those who care, suffering at the hands of the bunch of bastards who would profit from them. That makes me so angry.
Yet today’s refugees are yesterday’s teachers, doctors, housewives, students and athletes. And at Olympic time, those refugee athletes who would have competed for their country find themselves with no country, no team, no flag and no anthem. This year, there are ten athletes, with heart-breaking stories, from countries including Syria, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, who will stand shoulder to shoulder with other other countries, but under their own unique flag, the five-rings of the Olympics.
So, thought extremely talented singer-songwriter and all-round wonderful person Beccy Owen, why not write an anthem for them? And why not bring together a bunch of willing noisemakers and record it for them? And so it turned out to be.
Beccy teamed up with Boff Whalley who some know from Chumbawumba, but runners know as a very good fell runner indeed, to write the hauntingly beautiful ‘The World is Our Song’. Thanks to social media, 200 or so of us responded to a call to come and sing, and packed into All Hallows Church in Leeds . Three hours later, we had a recording, and dammit, it’s good. Don’t just take my word for it, check it out here on You Tube, though preferably pay to download it as all the money goes to refugee charities.
It was a magnificent and humbling experience, standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers, yet singing together with one voice to show our support for these very special athletes. I’ll be cheering them on.