Learning to sing and connect

Every Friday morning, 35 or so people gather in a room. Some live with conditions like bipolar or post-traumatic stress disorder, while others are unable to read.

Some struggle to even get out of bed in the morning.

In spite of those challenges, this group manages to do what most people fear: performing in public, as part of the Absolutely Everybody Brisbane Choir.

This choral group, run by Upbeat Arts and funded for adults dealing with hardship or mental illness, will be performing at this year’s City of Logan Christmas Carols.

Operations manager Susan Gilmartin says the choir is about much more than singing.

‘Although we take great pride in our vocal ability, it’s about creating a sense of community for those that need it most,’ she says.

‘Some of our people wouldn’t fit in a regular community choir, but are welcomed, respected and accepted into our program.’

Unlike other choirs, there’s no pressure to perform and everyone is allocated a buddy for support.

The group also enjoys a free lunch after every weekly 2-hour session, which involves vocal exercises and performance prep.

‘One young lady used to come by with a support worker and leave after 5 minutes. She now happily performs on stage and has recently travelled overseas on exchange,’ Susan says.

‘Others have gone on to university or paid work, while some stay with us forever. It’s our goal to equip people with the skills to follow their dreams, whatever they may be.’

For the singers, the Absolutely Everybody Brisbane Choir has been life-changing.

Adults with disabilities can often feel unseen and lonely.

‘That’s the joy of this choir – they get to see their friends and have something of value to do every Friday outside of therapy,’ Susan says.

‘It gives them the opportunity to be applauded and recognised for their hard work – they’re so appreciative of Logan City Council for the opportunity to be seen and heard.

‘It’s not therapy, but it is therapeutic. We’ve had people tell us that they wouldn’t still be here if the choir didn’t exist.’

Learn more about the Absolutely Everybody Brisbane Choir.




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