Military Wives Choirs
Military Wives and Gareth Malone launch new Foundation, September 2012.
|Associated acts||Gareth Malone, Gary Barlow, The Poppy Girls|
Military Wives Choirs are a group of British choirs formed of wives, partners and widows of British Military personnel as well as service women and veterans and are located around the UK and in several locations abroad. 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 Wimbish. 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 Choirs round off a whirlwind year with representatives of the choirs singing as part of the Queen's Speech on Christmas Day.
In December 2015, the Military Wives Choirs came together with Walking With The Wounded to produce the single I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) for the ‘Walking Home for Christmas’ campaign. The track is a festive recording of The Proclaimers’ hit song I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) and all proceeds from the single were donated to Walking With The Wounded and The Military Wives Choirs Foundation.
February 2016 saw legendary singer Lulu team up with the Military Wives Choirs for the single ‘Cry’. The song was inspired by Lulu’s diagnosis of PTSD from the violence she experienced throughout her childhood and the affinity it helped her to feel with soldiers suffering from the same issue, albeit from different circumstances. Lulu generously donated all of the proceeds to the Military Wives Choir Foundation charity. The Military Wives Choirs also joined Lulu on her thirty five date UK tour throughout March and April to perform the single. This is something which had never been done before by a mainstream artist and the Choirs were thrilled to be involved in.
In November 2016, the Military Wives Choirs came together for their biggest project yet, ‘Home for Christmas’. Recorded in ten different locations, the album includes over 1,000 ladies from 63 choirs across the UK and overseas and can all be heard on the title track Home for Christmas. The album also features six classic carols which have been updated with lyrics reflecting what Christmas means to women in the military community. Produced by BMG and steered by three accomplished choral conductors - Hilary Davan Wetton, Will Dawes and Mark De-Lisser, the Military Wives Choirs’ beautiful collection of songs embodies the true spirit of Christmas – its religious significance, love, family and harmony. The album was accompanied by a Cathedral tour through the UK, which involved 17 different choirs.
The Military Wives Choirs are currently recording an album to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I, conducted by Hilary Davan Wetton, with music by a number of composers including Joanna L’Estrange, Alexander L’Estrange and Owain Park. The album is funded by a Libor grant  and by a PledgeMusic campaign.
The Military Wives Choirs Foundation
This section does not cite any sources. (December 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
In January 2012, choir members from Chivenor, Plymouth and Catterick came together to discuss how best to create a sustainable organization to benefit all military wives, building on the legacy from the success of the song ‘Wherever You Are’. Encouraged by Gareth and actively assisted by other supporters, including SSAFA, the Royal British Legion, Decca and 20:20 Television, the concept of a Foundation, to act as an umbrella organisation for all military wives choirs, was born.
Needing a team to breathe life into the vision, a call was put out to all choirs in February 2012 and in March 2012 a group of women stepped forward to volunteer their time to found the charity we now know as the Military Wives Choirs Foundation (MWCF). That group of women was Caroline Jopp, Nicky Clarke, Sharon Bristow, Kelly Leonard, Emma Hanlon-Perry, Vanessa Murtagh, Emma Dineen, Claire Balneaves, Sarah McCallister and Carol Gedye, supported by SSAFA’s Communications Director at the time, Athol Hendry.
Running alongside the business of setting up choirs the team were managing numerous high profile projects including recording three albums; ‘In My Dreams’, ‘Stronger Together’ and ‘Sing’ — releasing a book The Military Wives; performing at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Classical Brit Awards, the Festival of Remembrance, and countless television appearances and local performances. The charity was officially incorporated on 25 July 2012 with four founding trustees, Nicky Clarke, Athol Hendry, David Ashman and Kirsty Bushell. The dedication and commitment of the co-founders and trustees was realised on 13 September 2012 when 647 women from 24 choirs came together at Wellington Barracks in London to officially launch the charity. On this same day, Gareth Malone was welcomed as the charity’s first patron.
The MWCF continues to operate as a volunteer-led organisation providing guidance, music, network-wide and regional opportunities, start-up funding and support to a network of more than 74 choirs on British military bases in the UK & Northern Ireland and overseas (Germany, Italy, Belgium, Cyprus and Brunei). Approximately 2,500 women are actively engaged within the network.
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions|
|In My Dreams||1|
|Home for Christmas||42|
|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)
(Lulu with the Military Wives Choirs)
|2016||—||Making Life Rhyme|
|"Home for Christmas"||2016||2 (UK Classical Album Chart)||Home For Christmas|
- 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. Archived from the original on 3 January 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
- "Military Wives: In My Dreams". GarethMalone.com. Archived from the original on 27 April 2012. 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.
- "How we started - Military Wives Choirs". Military Wives Choirs. 2016-01-12. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
- "Military Wives Choirs Foundation | SSAFA the armed forces charity". www.ssafa.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
- In My Dreams: The Military Wives: Amazon.co.uk: Music
- "Military Wives: Stronger Together". GarethMalone.com. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
- Home For Christmas, Union Square Music Limited, 2016-11-25, retrieved 2016-12-06
- "Military Wives claim Christas number-one". The Official Charts Company. 25 December 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2012.