Red Leicester is Leicester’s socialist choir singing songs expressive of social and political protest, and songs of worldwide celebration, struggle and change. To find out more about us, including when and where we meet and how to join us, please click here.
To read more news about what we are up to and recent events in which we have been involved, just scroll through the stories and pictures below.
News and Events
Remembering Jan Wild-Grant
Red Leicester Choir members were privileged to sing Jan’s favourite songs at her wake on 11th October. Jan was a formidable and fiery member of Red Leicester for many years. Her activism goes back to Greenham Common Peace Camp. She stood up for women, Working people, refugees and other oppressed peoples across the word. She was once called a “loose cannon” and took this label with pride. A force of nature, Jan was fiercely independent and leaves her daughter Ellie and grandson George. She will be sadly missed. We sang Unison in Harmony, I am a River, Rosa’s Lovely Daughters and our anthem, The Internationale.
Supporting striking transport workers (8th October)
To demonstrate solidarity with all workers taking industrial action over their pay and conditions, Red Leicester sang on the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) picket line at Leicester station. The choir felt it important to show their support for the RMT’s struggle in defence of their livelihoods and in the face of a Tory government intent on making working people pay for their own incompetence and mismanagement.
Busy Saturday for Red Leicester (1st October)
Red Leicester had a busy start to the month when they raised over £120 for local foodbanks through busking in the city centre. Following this, they moved across to Jubilee Square to sing at the rally organised by Enough Is Enough to campaign against the cost of living crisis. Many people stopped to listen and lots joined in with the choir’s rendition of The Tory Right. Gary O’Donnell, one of the organisers, commented: ‘Thanks for Saturday you were fantastic and so well received …. it was a great event that your contribution as the choir was greatly received‘.
Red Leicester bids farewell to long-standing members (21st September)
It was a bittersweet occasion when Red Leicester met to say goodbye to Jane and Martin Pennington (see photo below), members of the choir since 2010, who are moving to Shrewsbury. To mark the occasion the choir sang several of their favourite songs including Get On Your Bike, Harbour, Rosa’s Lovely Daughters, The Dirty Thirty and Sing John Ball.
Although the couple are excited about the move to a different part of the country, they expressed their sadness at leaving the choir which had provided them with such great comradeship, shared values, harmonies and love over the twelve years of their membership.
But who knows – Shrewsbury might be crying out for a socialist choir?!
Visit of Storm to City Festival (27th – 28th August)
Red Leicester sang Bella Ciao and There Is No Planet B to welcome the giant puppet, Storm, to Leicester as part of the City Festival. The puppet is ‘a goddess of the sea’, over 10m tall, composed entirely from recycled materials and is intended to encourage people to care for the environment. On her first visit to England (she hails from Scotland!), she certainly caused a stir in Leicester walking around the streets of the city centre!
Watch the videos of Storm at:
Street Choirs Festival 2022 (29th – 31st July)
Red Leicester sang at the Street Choirs Festival with about 20 other choirs from across the UK, the first time the event has been held since the 2019 festival in Manchester. It was a wonderful occasion to sing again on the streets of Whitby and meet old and new friends from other choirs!
Busking for Afghanistan Earthquake Appeal (July 2nd)
Red Leicester braved the rain on Saturday July 2nd to sing on the Leicester streets in aid of people affected by the recent earthquake in Afghanistan (see photo below). In total, £130 was raised and the choir thanks everyone who contributed so generously.
Singing for WaterAid (June 4/5th)
Red Leicester were busy over the weekend. Firstly, on Saturday 4th June, we were out on the Leicester streets busking in support of WaterAid and raising £40 for the charity. The picture below shows us in fine voice as usual! On Sunday 5th June, we sang at the Leicester Riverside Festival, again in support of WaterAid.
Prebend Gardens Summer Saturday Event (May 20th)
Red Leicester sang a programme of 11 songs at this event to celebrate the recent re-opening of Prebend Gardens after landscaping work was carried out. Amongst other songs, our programme included Shut Elbit Down, Song of Peace, Lay It Down, Pointless Packaging, I Am a River and a first outing of Harbour by Anna Tabbush.
Conscientious Objectors’ Memorial Day (May 15th)
Red Leicester joined other Leicester folk in commemorating and celebrating the brave people who have stood out against war and for peace over the last 100 years or more. The choir performed Lay It Down to begin the proceedings and Song of Peace right at the end. In between there were poems, testimony and readings from others; a defiant and moving occasion held at the memorial to conscientious objectors in Peace walk.
Red Leicester perform at Yes! Yes! UCS! (March 29th)
Red Leicester (below) sang two songs to round off a performance of Yes! Yes! UCS! by Townsend Productions at the Quorn Grange Hotel. The production celebrated the famous work-in at Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in 1971-72, led by trade unionist Jimmy Reid, and featured Heather Gourdie and Janie Thomson plus music from Neil Gore. It was a fabulous evening and Red Leicester was proud to perform at such a tremendous event! Click here to watch a short video of the choir singing the Waverley Polka.
Nationality and Borders Bill
Olivia Colman (below) delivers a trenchant challenge to MPs to do the right thing and to vote to change the cruel and heartless Nationality and Borders Bill currently going through Parliament. Send this to your MP and encourage them to find their compassion and vote against the government’s proposals – we stand Together With Refugees.
Red Leicester raise money for Ukraine (March 5th)
Red Leicester busked in aid of the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal on Saturday 5th March, raising £1388 from this and other sources – many thanks to those who donated generously.
In addition, the choir said goodbye to Mel (pictured second from the left below) who is shortly moving to Brighton. Bon voyage, Mel!
Citizens’ Shanty raises awareness of pernicious anti-refugee bill (February 9th)
Red Leicester recorded a rousing version of Boff Whalley’s Citizens’ Shanty in order to draw attention to Together With Refugees’ campaign against the Nationality and Borders Bill currently being debated in Parliament. Members of the choir then sent copies of the recording to their MPs in order to encourage them to vote against various clauses in the Bill which, according to Together With Refugees will: ‘deny many refugees the chance to seek sanctuary in the UK, criminalise those who try, isolate refugees in harmful out-of-town institutions, and undermine 70 years of international co-operation under the UN refugee convention. Combined with the government’s refusal to set a clear target on new safe routes, it would drastically cut the overall number we give safety to. As well as being inhumane, it will be expensive, unworkable and undermine our international standing.’
Red Leicester busking for Red Cross (February 5th)
Red Leicester busked outside the Globe in Silver Street on Saturday 5th February raising £100 for the Red Cross Appeal. Many thanks to everyone who donated so generously.