It’s a small town. There’s a lot of great people doing a lot of great things at a lot of great venues, but it’s a small town, and the number of New Things To Do are generally limited by that. Maybe that’s why Emily Martin’s new “Choir Jams” has been a hit from the start, and appealing to so many different demographics.
Described quite simply on its Facebook page as “Getting together and singing, anxiety-free,” Choir Jams is exactly that. “People vote for the song on Facebook,” Martin says, “and then I teach it to them in three part harmony. It’s a different group of singers every time and there is no experience necessary.”
Anyone feeling up for it gets together to singalong at a venue in town. Here’s the last one that happened, at The Ship:
What Made You Start Choir Jams?
I lived in Toronto last year, and as a way to make some pals, I was searching for a choir to join. Since I worked in the evenings, teaching music at a local studio, I couldn’t commit to the (understandable) fees, travel time, and auditions that some choirs were asking for. Then, one of my friends suggested we check out what is called Choir! Choir! Choir! and I have to say, the night that I spent there, was by far the best night I had while living in Toronto. C!C!C! is a choir that meets at a local bar, once a week, and welcomes everyone.
I remember the two hilarious guys who were directing it taught us “Dancing on my Own” by Robyn and at the end of the night, my friend and I agreed that St. John’s would so appreciate an event like this. When I made my way back home, I gently pitched this “get everyone through the winter” choir idea to my super fun and musical friend Shane. He was game right away and ever since we’ve started, we’ve just enjoyed every second and have made such a solid team.
Are You Surprised by the Diversity of People Drawn to the Idea?
So surprised!! It’s actually the best part, I think. I remember for the first Choir Jam, there were two men sitting at the back of The Ship. Like, as far back as you can get. They were probably 45-50 years old and when I asked them if they’d like to join our spontaneous choir, they mumbled under their breath how they weren’t singers, and bashfully scuffed their way up to join anyway. By the end of the night, I was so proud of the bys not only for being game to join, but because they were so proud of themselves. They were high-fiving and asking questions and actually the last ones to leave!
What Songs Have You Done So Far?
We’ve had two jams so far. For our first jam we sang “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” by Blue Swede. (Those two men kept the “ooga chaka” going like their lives depended on it.)
And after that jam, we decided to keep the choir interactive with continuous votes for each jam. So for our November edition, we posted four songs on our Facebook page, and the song that got the most votes was “Fix You” by Coldplay.
It ended up being a truly inspiring evening, and the choir sounded gorgeous. I held back tears a couple of times because they were so committed and eager that it sincerely warmed my heart.
We’ve got another vote happening for our All Ages Festive Jam happening at Rocket Bakery and it looks like the holiday song is going to be “All I Want For Christmas” is You by Mariah Carrey. I’m so going to play the tambourine!
How Often Will You Do These, And When Is The Deadline to Pick the Next Song?
We are going to do one Choir Jam a month. We post the four songs to vote for on our Choir Jams’ Facebook page and announce which song has the most votes on the Sunday before the jam.
Our next event is a super special one, happening on December 16th at 2:30pm at Rocket Bakery. Bring the fam! This one is all ages and we will be announcing the most voted for tune on December 9th.
What’s Been A Memorable Moment For You So Far?
I think the most memorable moment was at the second jam. No one was really entering The Ship to join us, and I was worried I was going to have to cancel. However, when I started making my way around the bar, it turned out that almost everyone had gotten there early and were waiting for the event to begin! Shane and I happy danced. I looked around at the end of the jam, and all the separate groups of people had become one. People were making friends and I remember thinking “this is why we’re doing this!”