S.W.A.L.K. for The Best Fans in the World

S.W.A.L.K. for The Best Fans in the World

It’s 7.01 am on 14 th  February 1985 and I’ve jumped out of bed and thrown myself downstairs faster than Carl Lewis ran the 100 metres at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

“Joanna! The postman’s been. Can you collect it for me please?”

This must be it; this MUST be the year. St Valentine and his crew must have been using the wrong address all these years, but today, something tells me that my luck may be about to change. Yesterday at school, Darren Rigsby (7) smiled at me when I sat down in the dining room with my tray of mushy peas, chips and what I presume was some kind of fish, but pre “Jamie Oliver” dinners, in the 1980’s that was debatable.

“Joanna, come on! Breakfast is ready.”

Breakfast and Mum can wait. I’ve a pile of post in my hand and  Darren Rigsby’s  poetic masterpiece to me must be one of them. The Yellow Pages? That’s not it. A Woolworths leaflet for 30p off Polly Pockets? No, but must remember to pay a visit later. The Football Pools? No idea how to play this but the “spot the ball” competition looks dead easy. Ah, here we go, an actual letter and it smells a bit flowery.

“I’ll take that, thank you very much”.

My big sister, Carolyn, has whipped the treasured correspondence out of my hands and for good reason. I can see the envelope is marked with graffiti and the letters “I love U C” written on the back. Crestfallen, I plod into the kitchen and enjoy two bowls of Golden Grahams. Well, they do call it The  Feast  of St Valentine after all.

Fast forward to the 21 st  Century and Valentine’s is a whole different affair. The annual day of LOVE is BIG Business. There are valentine’s cards for your pet hamster, repeats of Love Actually on the telly every day (even though we know it’s a Christmas film) and I even saw online that you could send your loved one a plastic recreation of an actual heart, atriums and ventricles included.

As a Classical Soprano I feel lucky that I am able to get involved with Valentine’s Day by singing many a love song or at least sharing that loving feeling. They say, ‘If music be the food of love, let it play on’!

Most importantly though, we have the best fans in the world who  love  the genre of Classical Crossover and the best audience to perform to. Our fans are so kind, encouraging, and supportive that it makes our job all the easier.

Knowing how much you, the readers, love the genre I reached out to Classical Crossover posse who live and breathe classical crossover every day to understand what it is about this wonderful genre that really gets their musical hearts racing.

The lovely  Fatima Norton , says that “it opens the field for classy music, making it easy to follow for people without any musical background or musical knowledge. It is to do with the musical arrangements, but also the fact you get to sample different operas. However, it is not just about making opera accessible as it is also the other way around. The beautiful, crystal clear and well-polished voices take any song, pop, jazz, country to new heights that uplift the spirit and touch deep down our hearts.”

The charming  Kenneth Lynch  from St. Louis in the US Midwest also touches on the fact that other genres are brought to life. “A key benefit for me in hearing a classically trained singer performing a favourite pop song is that I finally get to hear the lyrics clearly” Thanks Ken, though if I find myself ever attempting any thrash metal, please go easy on me!

Continuing the metal theme (note to self – must trade in my piano for V Style electric guitar),  Martin Hans  from Germany, comments how unique and versatile classical crossover is. “From pure classic to symphonic metal, it provides something for every mood, and you can find someone or something new every day.”

I love how  Ray Spreadborough  describes a section of classical crossover that my career background plays to. “Perhaps musical theatre is in the centre and light opera and pop at either end. I particularly like songs which have a melody and tell a story.” I love this Ray, and telling a story through song, especially a love story can really help us singers convey the meaning and essence when we perform them live.

The wonderful  Holger  provides a superb analogy. “To me the Classical Crossover genre is the best of two worlds. My favourite music interpreted by artists with the most beautiful voices and the highest instrumental skills. It’s like a Rolls-Royce with a Porsche engine.” As a mini driver, I find this incredibly aspirational! Thanks Holger.

I love recording and releasing music, it is the most exciting (and nerve wracking) process but it’s only when we are face-to-face without a dastardly pandemic in the way that we can truly connect and feel the love in the room. This is a thought shared by many fans including  Robert Scullen  (who in the absence of ‘live’ performances has been the most incredible support to us singers). “I love a live performance and most Classical Crossover singers always have the time to meet the fans before and or after the concert which is a huge highlight.”

Santo Jack  sums up what many of us are also thinking. “What I am looking forward to is everyone performing again so that they will no longer be just images on a computer screen, or voices through speakers. They will be there LIVE, and I will enjoy every precious moment of that time.”

Finally,  Kevin Wrapson, Nicole Heales, Adam Knight, Lee Austin,  and  Edward Jay  all appreciate the intimacy a classical crossover concert brings, getting up close and personal and in what seems like a lifetime ago, being able to give each other friendly hugs.

I cannot stress enough how much we singers value our fans and the love and respect you show us and the genre. It still may be a little while yet until we can meet up, so we have all been working on our own way to connect with you from online concerts to newsletters.

Bearing this in mind and in the spirit of this Valentine’s special, I asked everyone who contributed to this column what their favourite love song is,  and I am interested to see what Classical Crossover readers think!

I am therefore putting the following to a poll online and as a Valentine’s treat to the fans I will record an acapella version in my home studio. So, get voting!:

If my 1985 self could see the technology, we now use to make things like this happen she would be gobsmacked. Alas, in that year I am none-the-wiser, making do with my Sony Walkman to listen to my much-played cassette of Sarah Brightman hits as I skip back from school on February 14 th , still hoping that the postman has made another delivery.

I open the door, and it sticks a little. There on the mat is a red envelope with the word ‘Joanna’ written in a style that is clearly not my school crush Darren Rigsby, but my 42-year-old Dad attempting to masquerade as a seven-year-old. However obvious it is, I don’t let on that I know. ‘S.W.A.L.K’ (sealed with a loving kiss) is written on the back and my heart still leaps. The Darren Rigsby’s of this world can wait as for now, the seven-year-old me just feels loved unconditionally as a daughter and long will I cherish that feeling.

So, when I next sing out loud YOUR favourite love songs, I will use those memories to make them sound special for you, our dearest fans who make us feel like it’s Valentine’s EVERY day.