Military Wives and Gareth Malone launch new Foundation, September 2012.
|Associated acts||Gareth Malone, Gary Barlow, The Poppy Girls|
Military Wives are a British choir group formed of wives, partners and service women of British Military personnel and are located around the country. Formed in 2010, the choir has performed at major military events and also at the Diamond Jubilee Concert.
The first choir held their first rehearsal in April 2010 in Catterick Garrison. It was the idea of two Scots Guards wives who decided, whilst their husbands deployed in Afghanistan in 2009, to put up posters at the Garrison to actively encourage and look for ladies interested in singing together, to help support and give the wives a focus whilst their husbands deployed. They engaged a well-known local music teacher and set about putting together a choir made up of Wives, Girlfriends and Service women and so the first choir was formed. A letter was written to choirmaster Gareth Malone looking for help and support with the choir, at that time he was receiving acclaim for his BBC television programme The Choir and felt that this was an idea that could be replicated. Malone then went to RMB Chivenor to start another choir there.
Following the success at Chivenor, Malone, as part of the series, formed another choir at the Royal Citadel, Plymouth. Following the broadcast of the series and the release of the single Wherever You Are, more choirs were added at CTCRM, Lympstone and HMNB Portsmouth. The five choirs of Catterick, Chivenor, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Lympstone were invited to contribute to the album In My Dreams under the name Military Wives.
The Choir: Military Wives
The Military Wives Choir formed by Gareth Malone at the Royal Marines Base Chivenor, as part of the fourth series of the BBC/Twenty Twenty television series The Choir, entitled The Choir: Military Wives. The aim of the choir was to help the wives and girlfriends of servicemen currently deployed to Afghanistan express themselves through song.
As the series progressed, Malone led the Chivenor group to perform locally at the nearby town of Barnstaple, and then, alongside the choir formed at the Royal Citadel, Plymouth, at a Passing Out dinner at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and at Armed Forces Day celebrations in Plymouth. The climax of the television series was their performance of Wherever You Are at The Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on 12 November 2011, in the presence of HM The Queen. The song was created by Paul Mealor from extracts of correspondence between the choir and their spouses in Afghanistan.
Following the series, the song Wherever You Are was released as a single on 19 December 2011, with the aim of becoming the 2011 UK Singles Chart Christmas number one, a feat it achieved when it sold 556,000 copies within a week of launch (more than the rest of the top 12 combined). A section of the cost of the single was donated to the Royal British Legion and the SSAFA Forces Help charities.
The success of the television series and the Christmas single led the five established choirs being approached to contribute to an album. The album, entitled In My Dreams after the lead single, was released in early March 2012, and went to top the album chart in the UK within a week, with £1 from each album sale going towards the Military Wives Choirs Foundation. The foundation has the aim to support the founding of Military Wives' choirs across the UK. Nicky Clarke, co-founder of The Military Wives Choir Foundation, whose original idea and dream to have a choir on every base was gaining momentum, wrote in her note on the album cover, "It is music which gives us strength, hope, courage, support, laughter and friendship, often when it is most needed".
The choir performed at the opening of the Olympic Stadium in London when ten choirs contributed to the Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber single written to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. This single, entitled Sing features voices and instruments from across the Commonwealth and features the Military Wives as the backing track and representing the UK.
The second album Stronger Together, produced by Jon Cohen in July 2012, was recorded by over 700 ladies from 24 Military Wives Choirs. The original five of Catterick, Chivenor, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Lympstone, were joined by another nineteen; Abingdon, Ayios Nikolaos (Cyprus), Chicksands, Condor, Culdrose, Defence Academy, Dishforth, Herford (Germany), JHQ, Marchwood, Marham, Middle Wallop, Salisbury Plain, Shawbury, Shorncliffe, Warminster, Wattisham, West of Scotland and Wimbush. On 13 September over 650 ladies from the 24 choirs recorded the Stronger Together video in London for release on 5 November 2012. Nicky Clarke wrote on the album cover... "Stronger Together really does sum up this year (2012) we've brought together women from all over the Military Community, in their own choirs, on-line, at the Jubilee and now on this album and still the choirs continue to grow. This is a testament to every woman in the Military Community – they are strong, resourceful women who support their loved ones when they're away".
October 2012 saw more success for The Military Wives Choir winning Classical Brits single of the year, they performed Sing live at the Royal Albert Hall with Gareth Malone, Gary Barlow and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Then in November Jonjo Kerr returned from his tour of duty in Afghanistan to sing with representatives from the four choirs of Catterick, Chivenor, Lympstone, Portsmouth and Plymouth who originally recorded In My Dreams and performed at the Festival of Remembrance altogether, live for the first time.
December 2012 saw The Military Wives round off a whirlwind year with representatives of the choirs singing as part of the Queen's Speech on Christmas Day.
Military Wives Choirs continues to grow, and there are more than 67 choirs within the network.
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions|
|In My Dreams||1|
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Sales||Album|
|"Wherever You Are"
(with Gareth Malone)
||In My Dreams|
|"In My Dreams"
(featuring Jon-Joseph Kerr)
(with Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth band)
- TwentyTwenty TV (November 2011). "Military Wives". BBC. BBC Two. Missing or empty
- "The Choir: Military Wives". TwentyTwenty TV. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
- "Military Wives". Gareth Malone official website. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
- "Military Wives: In My Dreams". GarethMalone.com. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- Potter, Alistair. "Military Wives Choir's Wherever You Are outsold Little Mix's Cannonball five-to-one in Christmas No.1 singles race". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Military Wives claim Official Christmas Number 1 2011". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- "Military Wives Choir captures Christmas number one". BBC News. 25 December 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- "Military Wives top albums chart". BBC News. 18 March 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- Lobel, Mark (6 May 2012). "London 2012: Olympic Stadium is officially opened". BBC News. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- "Official Diamond Jubilee song unveiled". BBC News. 18 May 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- "Performers – Sing, Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band". Decca/Universal Music. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- In My Dreams: The Military Wives: Amazon.co.uk: Music
- "Military Wives: Stronger Together". GarethMalone.com. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
- "Military Wives claim Christas number-one". The Official Charts Company. 25 December 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2012.