Last Saturday I had the pleasure to meet with Rebecca Newman, The People’s Soprano. She is a lovely lady and has the most amazing voice.
I am overwhelmed that she wants to support Socks and Chocs and what follows is a press release that I have forwarded to media outlets.
I am very excited.
Chart Topping “People’s Soprano” Rebecca Newman gets behind West Midlands Homeless Charity.
Rebecca appeals for local choirs to join her community single project to raise awareness for the charity this year and put the charity into the national spotlight.
The former busker who made history last September as the first unsigned soprano to top the Official UK Classical Music Chart has announced she is to become patron of, Socks and Chocs, a West Midlands based charity that helps the homeless as Christmas time.
Rebecca says “as a busker, homelessness was something I was regularly in contact with so it is a subject close to my heart. Ian and I have been in contact for over 18 months now so when he recently asked me to be patron of his charity I wholeheartedly agreed, but on the condition that I wouldn’t just be a figurehead, I wanted to get stuck in to help raise the profile of the charity, something music can do very well. I have raised over £11,000 for my designated charities in recent years but I take the role of patron very seriously and am looking forward to helping to take the campaign out to the rest of the UK.”
The charity was founded by Ian Northcott in 2010, who famously became known as Brum’s Busking Bobby after a video of him playing a busker’s guitar went viral. When Ian was touched by the death of a homeless, whom he had befriended, on a winter’s night he set up a charity to give out socks and bars of chocolates to homeless people at Christmas time. The first year they collected 1000 pairs of socks. By 2013 that had reached 8500. Ian has since been recognised for his work, including receiving the Pride of Birmingham Award in 2014.
Rebecca, who has become affectionately known as The People’s Soprano, is currently on tour with the UK’s best selling classical artist, Russell Watson, and has appeared on national TV and radio several times since the album release. She achieved her No1 status with ‘old school’ tactics over almost 10 years of busking and performing, raising the funds directly from her fan base to record an album with a live orchestra, realising a long held dream of hers. Quite appropriately, the album is named after her self-penned track Dare to Dream.
She says “in a world obsessed with reality TV stars and highly paid footballers I wanted to write a song that focused on all of us and what our own individual dreams are. It is supposed to be a ‘musical hug’ for days when you feel unsure and need some reassurance to believe in yourself and your own goals. It doesn’t matter how humble you think your dreams are, they are yours and yours alone to cherish.”
Rebecca first got involved with helping the charity in 2013 by agreeing to record her own version Ian’s song “Pleasure”, that highlights the plight of homeless people. Ian says “Rebecca is a perfect fit for our charity because of her background working on the streets as a musician and in care work when she was a young adult. It was clear she instantly understood what the charity was trying to do and had a real appreciation about a lot of the issues surrounding homelessness, like ex-forces personnel, mental illness and victims of abuse.
The charity is not just about offering practical help to homeless people, by giving out socks and other winter essentials, and offering comfort, by giving out chocolates, it’s about breaking down the barriers and confronting prejudices and taboos surrounding homeless people.”
Rebecca says “I am planning to do a collection at my next concert in the area – at Lichfield Garrick Theatre on 16th July – to officially launch my role as patron. This month I am starting a special project that will run until Christmas to create a musical community campaign that will help to take the message of Socks and Chocs out to the rest of the UK. I’m hoping fans of mine all over the country will get involved by doing collections in their area. The best thing about this campaign is it’s not just asking for money, it’s about creating a new Christmas tradition that can really make a difference to people’s lives.
We are appealing now for choirs to be involved in the project so anyone interested can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be given more information.”
Rebecca says “I love Ian’s motto that ‘a lot of people doing a little, is better than a few people doing a lot’. I have a great fan base full of loyal, warm and wonderful people, who often refer to themselves as ‘Newmaneers’. Quite a few like knitting so if some of them fancy getting involved by knitting socks, scarves and hats to add to the collections perhaps we will need to rename them ‘Newmanknitters’?”
For those wishing to donate socks, sleeping bags, scarves or hats to the campaign can check the charity’s website for collection points. Alternatively, to get an autographed photo with personal ‘thank you’ message from Rebecca bring your donation along to The Lichfield Garrick Theatre on the evening of 16th July before Rebecca’s concert begins at 7.30pm. Items should be new and unused.
Busking Bobby Video: https://youtu.be/FQPJIltxOh4
Rebecca Newman on Songs of Praise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fv1KB_nbLMA
Rebecca Newman ‘The People’s Anthem’ Community Song Video: https://youtu.be/RQVvx_3L4_g
Rebecca Newman Dare to Dream Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf2uXc_Qw8o
“[Dare to Dream is] a lovely collection of songs” – Michael Ball, on BBC Radio 2
“Stunning.. I’m starstruck” – Diane Louise Jordan, on BBC Radio 2
“A fantastic soprano” – Aled Jones, Singer & TV Presenter
“An amazing voice” – Harry Gration, BBC Television
“Easily one of the best voices around” – Adam Thomlinson, BBC Radio
“Outstanding… truly breathtaking” – The Evening Press
“An amazing talent” – Lenny Henry, Actor & Comedian