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
Solidarity with Palestine Action to Shut Elbit Down
Israel’s largest weapons company, Elbit (UAV Tactical Systems) has a factory in Leicester which makes military equipment (including Watchkeeper drones) which have been used to attack Palestinians. Red Leicester sang on Monday 22nd May in solidarity with the Palestine Action siege of the factory to shut it down. We sang Janet Wood’s Shut Elbit Down and other peace songs. See the video here.
Singing for Peace on Conscientious Objectors Day
Red Leicester joined CND and other supporters of peace in Peace Walk by the Peace Stone to honour conscientious objectors from Leicester and Leicester who suffered in the world wars. We sang Keep you in Peace and Song of Peace and talked about Ukraine and all the groups of people who courageously stood for their principles. We also remembered Penny Walker who persuaded the City Council to change the name of Memorial Walk to Peace Walk and provide the Peace stone.
Busking for victims of the war in Sudan
Singing “You’re nowhere if you believe Theresa May” a line from Citizen Shanty (Commoners Choir). We raised £130 on Saturday May 14th, busking for Waging Peace for their work with victims of war in Sudan.
Busking for Leicestershire Autistic Society
We raised £105.68 for The Leicestershire Autistic Society on Saturday 1st April – to mark World Autism Acceptance Week. We decided to forego the opportunity to busk for the spaghetti farmers in San Serif, after their crop failure. 😉
Busking for DEC Turkey and Syria Earthquake Appeal
We raised £155 for earthquake survivors in Turkey and Syria on Saturday 4th March.
Busking for Leicester Foodbanks
We raised a whopping £194.21 for local foodbanks on Saturday 4th February. It was cold and grey but we sang brightly.
Busking for One Roof Leicester
On 7th Jan 2023 Red Leicester busked in support of One Roof – a local charity fighting to end homelessness in Leicester.
As the photo evidences, we were competing with (at times heavy) rain, which significantly reduced footfall. Nevertheless , in the circumdtances we raised a respectable £36 during our abbreviated set.
Busking for Women’s Aid
We raised £123.03 for Women’s Aid plus a donation of £30 from Shrewsbury friends at our monthly busking slot outside the Globe. Great generosity from the people of Leicester despite the hardship of cost of living and upcoming pressures of Christmas. There is a special joy in singing together on the streets of Leicester, raising awareness and funds to make a monthly donation to various causes.
Solidarity on the UCU Picket line
Some of us sang UNISON, William Morris, There is Power in a Union, and the Internationale in solidarity with striking staff from De Montfort University on the morning of 30th November. Strikers raised their fists in unison with us during the Internationale.
Members of Red Leicester Choir sang to support an Amos Trust event in Leicester on Monday 29th November 2022, which is raising funds this Christmastime to help women of Gaza, with breast cancer, as part of its Palestine Justice campaign. [For more information see Amos Trust Christmas Appeal and Palestine Justice (amostrust.org)]
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.