Sing out Strong began life as a small family of choirs for mental health and wellbeing, around Herefordshire and the Welsh border. Set up by Founder and Principal Conductor Emma Rowland in 2019, SOS was the first UK choir to make the switch to online rehearsals during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Emma realised that there would be thousands of singers around the world missing the support, friendships, music and routine of their regular choirs and so launched the SOS Virtual Choir through free, live-streamed sessions on Facebook.
At the heart of all Sing out Strong sessions is the ethos of singing for the benefits of mental health and wellbeing, and this was carried into the online world as well. Music has the power to boost mood and forge connections, to transform imaginations and to calm the mind, and SOS has built a highly-regarded model based on these principles. Following Emma's own diagnosis of PTSD, Sing out Strong developed into a supportive and "singclusive" family of members who understand the value of singing in a group.
As the pandemic progressed, so SOS started to grow. The virtual choir was featured on BBC News, BBC World, BBC2 and ITV, and its projects have appeared in Good Housekeeping and Happiful Magazines. Emma was even interviewed for the British Library Archive and nominated for an award for her work during the pandemic. With 11,000 singers in 100 countries, the VC is a true example of how music kept the world together when the pandemic forced us apart.
At the time of writing (July 2021), the virtual choir is still thriving and is planning for a moving in-person reunion concert in 2022. We have completed seven extensive projects and are proud to still be offering open access to anyone around the world, absolutely free of charge.
From Autumn 2021, SOS will have new choirs launching all over the UK, each promoting the message of singing and wellbeing, and working to raise awareness of good mental health in their local communities. Whether attending workshops, Wellness Days or performing together in massed-choir concerts, our SOS members will have the chance to be a part of a worldwide family.