Find out the story behind our fabulous Christmas CD
Reverend Sue Guénault shares the story of the choir behind our 2017 Christmas CD.
EVERY year our Christmas Special comes with a CD of festive music, and this time we’re delighted to be featuring the vocal talents of the “Good News Singers”. They’re an inspirational local choir founded by Reverend Sue Guénault and her husband, Mark.
“The Singers originally formed to perform a musical called ‘Sing Good News’ to celebrate the 900th anniversary of our village’s Anglican Church. We were asked to put a choir together to commemorate the end of the celebrations, and that’s how the name came about.
“It was only meant to be a one-off and then everybody said, ‘That was fun, we should do it again.’ That was in 1994 and we are still here twenty-three years later!”
As a minister, Sue is pressed for time, so the choir tends to perform only about twice a year.
“We always perform at Christmas and usually do something in the summer. It is an ecumenical choir, and we have people of all denominations.”
Consisting of between 50 to 60 singers, the choir almost invariably sings as just one big unit, but this year they’ve made a few exceptions to enable those with more time to take the choir where it’s needed.
“We are actually singing in some care homes this year – that will be reduced groups.”
Anyone can hire the cheering services of the choir.
“People invite us, and we go without charge. Everything we earn goes to charity, so anybody can have us, providing they give any proceeds away.”
A local connection saw the Singers end up recording the “Friend” CD.
The partner of the producer, Steve, was a mum at the school Sue used to work at. Steve knew of the choir’s work, and asked them to perform.
Singing the Christmas songs for the CD was quite a surreal experience, as the music was recorded in the middle of the summer.
“We were all wearing shorts and we had to open all the windows! It was red hot that day!”
The songs were sung in their church, which we like to think lends the CD a lovely tone. It’s capturing a choir performing where they were meant to be.
Sue told us that although the choir isn’t able to get together very often, it still has a profound impact on her and all the members.
“When life becomes hectic, I know that if I spend an hour with the choir singing, I will feel a lot better for it.
“And the choir is very much your family. I was ill some years ago for a considerable time. I had visitors every day from the choir and that kept me going.
“They supported my family, gave the children lifts when I couldn’t, so it really is a family.
“We have had other choir members who have gone through illnesses and it’s been an incredible support vehicle for them as well.”
Inclusion is key to the choir’s success – everyone’s welcome. And Sue has never put a cap on the number of people that can join – she’s happy for it to grow. People are even starting to travel in from nearby villages to take part.
“It’s very informal. The majority of people don’t read music and have never sung in a choir before.
“We’ve also got people ranging from eighteen to ninety. Everyone really is welcome.”
Sue was delighted to be able to sing some of the traditional tunes for the Christmas CD.
“My favourite is ‘It Came Upon The Midnight Clear’.”
Well, everyone does love the classics!
Sue and the Good News Singers star on our Christmas CD, which comes with our Christmas Special. In shops now!