Batley Community Choir re-imagines The Rose in memory of Jo Cox MP
Batley Community Choir release a single of The Rose, made famous by Bette Midler, on 16 July to raise funds for the Jo Cox Fund, which was set up in memory of Batley and Spen MP following her tragic death in Birstall, West Yorkshire on 16 June.
All proceeds will be donated to the fund which supports three charities close to the late MP’s heart: The Royal Voluntary Service, HOPE not hate, and The White Helmets.
Following Jo Cox’s death the choir was contacted by Channel 4’s The Last Leg show and asked to sing in tribute. Their live performance of The Rose was broadcast from All Saints Church, Batley.
Choir soprano and treasurer Karen Rayner explained: ‘We got the request at 8.30am and couldn’t say ‘no’. We wanted to honour Jo’s memory, and the reaction we’ve had from people all over the UK tells us we did just that. Some viewers suggested a charity version of the song, and so now we’ve made it a reality.’
The choir was later contacted by the organisers of the More in Common event on Wednesday 22 June, which would have been Jo Cox’s birthday, and sang The Rose once more. The choir’s founder member Graeme Rayner introduced the choir, and asked the people of Batley to help, say-ing: ‘Jo never got to hear us sing, let’s make sure she hears us now.’
The performance ended with more 200 people in Batley’s Market Square singing the final verse together. At the end of the performance, the choir announced their plans to release The Rose in aid of the Jo Cox Fund.
The choir’s musical director Gary Skyrme said: ‘The Rose is such a fitting song – it’s about love and hope – and Jo, who was our own Yorkshire Rose, epitomised those values. She supported our recent “Summer Har-monies” charity concert for which we were planning for her to come and join us in a rehearsal.
‘We spoke with her sister, Kim Leadbetter, and her parents and they gave us their blessing to honour Jo’s memory in this way.’
Kim Leadbeater said: ‘On behalf of Jo’s family I would like to say a big thank you to Batley Community Choir for producing this beautiful single in her memory. Jo loved to sing, although she didn’t always remember the words, and she loved the people of Batley and Spen, so it is a fitting tribute, which I know she would have thought was the perfect choice.’
The single is a brand new arrangement of The Rose produced and rec-orded by Gary Skyrme and features more than 200 people from the Batley area and beyond, including local community groups and organisations with which the MP had links. They all join with the choir in a moving final verse, recreating the atmosphere at the memorial event held in the centre of Batley on her birthday.
A video was made on the same day as the recording, produced by Lon-don-based film company Evolutionary Films, who donated their time and services free of charge.
Founder choir member Graeme Rayner, who co-ordinated the project, said: ‘It has been overwhelming to witness how readily people have given up their time and effort. We have had a music video put together by pro-fessional filmmakers, the artwork has been created by an international marketing agency, and over 200 people came together and gave up their time, including Jo’s colleague Paula Sheriff, MP, from the neighbour-ing constituency of Dewsbury, which shows just how much Jo was loved. It’s truly amazing.’
The single is available for just 99p via digital download from Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and most digital download services from Saturday 16 July 2016.
A limited edition CD, priced at £1.99, is available to pre-order from the choir’s website: www.batleysings.org/buy-the-rose. The cost of producing the CD has been covered by a donation from Creative Scene, which means every penny raised goes to the Jo Cox Fund.
The video will be available to view on YouTube: search Batley Community Choir.
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