Red Leicester busked on Gallowtree Gate in support of Medical Aid for Palestinians raising £80 in total. The choir sang to raise awareness of the Elbit factory in Leicester which makes the Hermes 450 drones deployed against Palestinians in Gaza. Shut Elbit Down, written by Janet Wood, was given its first public airing in Leicester along with other peace songs (11th December 2021).
Red Leicester sang at the Salt of the Earth Fundraising Community Sale at Christchurch, Clarendon Park. Our first outing since March 2020 included songs about the arms trade and the environment (20th November 2021). Afterwards, soup, samosas and cake were the order of the day to help ward off the cold weather!
Red Leicester returned to singing together indoors for the first time since March 2020! Christchurch, Clarendon Park is a bigger space than the Secular Hall and our COVID Guidelines ensured that singers were as safe as possible whilst the virus is still in the community (8th September 2021). Below are some of our socially-distanced and masked sopranos!
Red Leicester joined with Liverpool Socialist Singers in a joint singing session to show solidarity and to learn new songs. Among the songs that the choirs sung together were Get On Your Bike, Citizens’ Shanty Mashup, All the Homeless People (Eleanor Rigby), Legal-Illegal and There Is No Planet B. A great time was had by all and the power of song was revitalised yet again (12th June 2021). You can see all our happy faces below!
Several members of Red Leicester joined others in Extinction Rebellion’s Spring Into Action: Sink or Swim event in Leicester. This involved a noisy procession from the railway station to Jubilee Square led by a beautiful Noah’s Ark (29th May 2021).
Several members of Red Leicester joined forces with members of other choirs in the Campaign Choirs Network in August to produce this inspiring video in support of the current XR action. It was co-ordinated by Penny Stone from Protest in Harmony and uses the words of Margaret Mead: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has‘.
Members of Red Leicester joined crowds in Leicester city centre (6th June) for the Black Lives Matter demonstration to protest at the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. There were several other similar demonstrations across the UK and, of course, across the world (25th May 2020)
Several members of Red Leicester joined the Extinction Rebellion action at County Hall to remind councillors to honour their pledges on climate change. Mel Gould said ‘Post-COVID we need a new normal that will help us avert an even worse climate crisis. We can’t go back to a situation where road building and using fossil fuels are seen as a viable way forward‘(30th May 2020)
Red Leicester has supported International Conscientious Objectors’ Day for many years, joining others at the memorial on Peace Walk in remembering those who stuck to their non-violent principles during two world wars. This year’s event was different with a virtual programme of readings and remembrance using Zoom (15th May 2020).
Spot the difference! One of Red Leicester’s sopranos, Clare Scott, took her toothbrush to clean up the memorial on Peace Walk to the 250 conscientious objectors who refused to fight in World War 1, just in time for International Conscientious Objectors’ Day (15th May 2020) which, this year, will be celebrated online.
Red Leicester met virtually during lockdown with the help of Zoom technology and practised Lean on Me by the recently-departed Bill Withers, an appropriate song for the times. Below you can see a screen shot of all our smiling faces (8th April 2020).
Red Leicester made the pages of the New Statesman on April 3rd in an article about the rise of political choirs and how they are faring during the coronavirus lockdown (3rd April 2020).
Song of the Day ran from 25th March (There Is Power In a Union) to 2nd July (There Will Be a Reckoning): 100 days of the first national COVID lockdown. Many people made suggestions and comments and we hope you found something to raise your spirits in these difficult times. If you want to see which songs featured here over the 100 days, then visit the Song of the Day Archive.
At their final busk before lockdown, Red Leicester raised £85 for Women’s Aid. The organisation’s Chief Executive wrote to thank the choir, saying that: ‘We are very grateful to you for this donation, which will go towards helping the women and children in our refuges, many of whom arrive with little or nothing after fleeing a difficult situation. The money we receive helps to ensure the families have essential items and a safe, comfortable environment when they arrive” (14th March 2020).
Red Leicester’s Annual Fundraiser at the Ukrainian Hall raised £485 for the Ghirass Cultural Centre, an educational, cultural and leisure facility for the children of Bethlehem, and £310 for Perfectly Edible who provided all the delicious food. As ever, Greenshoots Ceilidh Orchestra played some wonderful music for dancing, Red Leicester sang a set of six songs, and a great evening was had by all (7th March 2020)!
Red Leicester busked in aid of toilet twinning and raised £110 to pay for two toilets in Kabale, Uganda. The certificates (see below) are now on display in the Secular Hall. We then moved across town to sing at the Extinction Rebellion event at the City Hall to help mark the 365 days since LCC declared a climate emergency (1st February 2020).
Red Leicester contributed towards an evening of song and music at the Sing for Syria concert, organised by the University of Leicester UNICEF On Campus Society, helping to raise £650 was raised for children in Syria (30th January 2020).
Red Leicester members busked for Leicester South Foodbank, raising £160 for this important local service (11th January 2020).
Singing some frack-free Christmas Carols, Red Leicester joined members of Leicester Friends of the Earth in protesting about the role of major banks in investing in fossil fuel companies (14th December 2019).
Red Leicester raised £140 for One Roof Leicester at its monthly busk in Market Street to help provide accommodation and support to homeless people, destitute refugees and refused asylum seekers (7th December 2019).
Red Leicester members joined the picket line with UCU members taking strike action to defend their pay, working conditions and pensions at the University of Leicester (29th November 2019).
Red Leicester sang at the opening of the Journey to Justice Exhibition at the Attenborough Arts Centre, celebrating the US civil rights movement, its significance, and its links to the UK including the stories of some of Leicester’s own protestors and radicals who contributed to the history of social activism and protest in the city (11th October 2019).
Red Leicester sang the Internationale for a film being made by Ady Pole, a University of Leicester History student about Roy Watts and Fred Sykes, two Leicester men who fought and died with the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War 1936-39 (11th September 2019).
The annual Street Choirs Festival in Manchester (12th to 14th July 2019) saw Red Leicester performing to a different audience over the weekend. Here we are busking outside the Central Library!
Red Leicester also performed in the evening concert in the Royal Northern College of Music singing Lives In The Balance and PET: Plastic Bottles.
Red Leicester opened the Secular Society’s Peterloo commemoration event (The Carliles and Peterloo) in the Secular Hall (7th July 2019).
Red Leicester raised £100 for After 18 at the usual monthly busk in Market Street (6th July 2019).
… and Leicester Sing for Water at the Riverside Festival in Bede Park (2nd June 2019).
Red Leicester were in fine voice raising £37 for Extinction Rebellion …
… and then supporting and joining many others on the annual Leicester May Day March across the city (4th May 2019) …
As in previous years, Red Leicester sang at International Workers’ Memorial Day in Town Hall Square (28th April 2019).
Red Leicester performed at the annual Community Choirs Festival in Stratford giving a first outing to PET (Plastic Bottle song) by Coope, Boyes and Simpson (14th April 2019).
Red Leicester’s monthly busk in Market Street raised £120 for the Cyclone Idai Relief Fund. You can see us below in good voice singing the Internationale at the end of our busk (6th April 2019).
Over £600 was raised for the local charity One Roof Leicester plus over £400 for Perfectly Edible UK who provided the delicious food at Red Leicester’s Annual Ceilidh and Fundraiser at the Ukrainian Hall (30th March 2019).
Red Leicester below after performing at the Upstairs at the Western theatre’s Choir Night on (27th March 2019):
Red Leicester busking in the spring sunshine to raise £120 for the Save The Children Yemen Crisis Appeal (9th March 2019):
Members of Red Leicester performed in the spectacular Always and Always Facing Toward the Light – a free public event about the life of local suffragette and socialist, Alice Hawkins, in New Market Square (3rd March 2019). The perfomance also featured Elaine Pantling in the role of Alice and a 3D video projection from Shared Space and Light.
There are photos on Instagram here .
Elaine Pantling is pictured below holding a maquette of the statue of Alice Hawkins with which she was recently presented to mark her huge personal involvement in the series of events in Leicester over the past year celebrating Alice’s achievements.
Red Leicester members joined the Extinction Rebellion demonstration outside the BBC offices near Jubilee Square to urge the BBC to take the lead in promoting the truth about climate change (21st December 2018). You can read the Leicester Mercury’s report on the event here.
Red Leicester singing at the Sing for Syria Concert (organised by University of Leicester UNICEF on Campus Society) at Christchurch, Clarendon Park Road, Leicester (4th December 2018). The free concert raised £329.74 for the UN’s Syria appeal.
Red Leicester members helped to send a message to the UN climate talks in Poland by being part of a human number 12 (the number of years left in which to take radical action against climate change), photographed from the Big Wheel in Jubilee Square and sent to the UN negotiators (2nd December 2018). The event was organised by Leicester Friends of the Earth and Red Leicester led the singing of several anti-fracking and environmental songs (see video).
The Co-operative Party invited Red Leicester to sing at their weekend school at the Hilton Hotel, Fosse Park (3rd November 2018). Red Leicester chose several appropriate songs expressive of collaboration and change including: Unison in Harmony; The Whole Wide World Around; Citizens’ Shanty; Power in A Union and the Internationale.
Members of Red Leicester members joined with Fosse Singers and the DMU Square Mile choir in two performances of Alice In Her Shoes at Curve (25th/26th October 2018), a celebration of the life of Leicester suffragette Alice Hawkins written and performed by Elaine Pantling . The event was part of a year-long Leicester celebration involving the council and local schools and featuring the Curve events, the arrival of the Suffragette Flag, the unveiling of the Alice Hawkins statue and culminating in the public event in Green Dragon Square in March 2019.
Earlier at an Equaliteas event (25th October 2018), the Alice choir met local schoolchildren at the old Equity Shoes factory (where Alice Hawkins worked) and led them in singing several songs from the show.
Red Leicester’s monthly busk in Market Street (13th October 2018) raised £111 for the anti-austerity movement We Shall Overcome to raise money for those hardest hit by the government’s austerity policy.
In the Secular Hall, Red Leicester hosted the Campaign Choirs Writing Collective in the launch of their new publication, Singing For Our Lives (3rd October 2018), a detailed history of the UK street choirs movement, of which Red Leicester is a proud member. The choir was on hand to sing a number of appropriate songs including Citizens’ Shanty by Boff Whalley (from Leeds Commoners Choir):
(courtesy of Ambrose Musiwiya/Civic Leicester)
Red Leicester sang several peace songs at Leicester CND’s Peace One Evening (22nd September 2018). The evening also included other singers and performers, puppets, a splendid meal and rousing talks from various groups including Friends of the Earth, Save Our NHS and others.
Red Leicester busked to raise £100 for the Kerala Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to alleviate the devastation caused by recent floods. (8th September 2018).
Singers from Red Leicester joined family and friends at St Luke’s church in Leicester in remembering Julie Burnage, a longstanding member of the choir, who died recently. Many memories were shared of a woman with a huge passion for life and strong socialist and Christian commitments demonstrated, not least, through her work on behalf of refugees in Leicester. Julie loved singing with Red Leicester and she will be much missed by the choir; it was fitting, therefore, that the choir sang two of her favourite pieces – Song of Peace and Feeling Good – in her memory (31st August 2018).
Red Leicester members joined Elaine Pantling (on left below) to perform several songs from her acclaimed one-woman show Alice in Her Shoes celebrating the life of Alice Hawkins, the Leicester suffragette and campaigner, at Curve’s 10th Birthday Celebrations (26th August 2018). Singers from Fosse Singers and DMU Square Mile choirs were also involved.
Members of Red Leicester joined the thousands of people in London protesting at the visit of US President Donald Trump to the UK (organised by the Stop Trump Coalition). A Big Choir was assembled by the Campaign Choirs Network to serenade marchers on Regent Street singing songs with anti-Trump lyrics and sentiments (13th July 2018).
Red Leicester spent a scorching hot weekend in Brighton (29th June – 1st July 2018) at the 2018 Street Choirs Festival. Here are a couple of photos of the choir busking in the Pavilion Gardens:
Red Leicester sang two pertinent songs, Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed and Can We Afford the Doctor?, as a prelude to a talk by Professor Richard Murphy to the Secular Society in the Secular Hall (12th June 2018). Professor Murphy is a tax campaigner, academic and author of the book The Joy of Tax, with unorthodox but compelling ideas about taxation and the economy. Afterwards he paid tribute to the choir in his blog!
Singers from Red Leicester greeting the arrival and departure of the Anti-Poverty Bus Tour in Leicester organised by the European Minimum Income Network. Red Leicester sang several songs (you can view Ambrose Musiyiwa’s videos of these here). The photo below (again courtesy of Ambrose) shows Red Leicester singers plus City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, local Bangra dancers and members of the EMIN bus tour (22nd/23rd May 2018).
A few members of Red Leicester joined Friends of the Earth supporters in a vigil for the trees of Prebend Gardens (16th May 2018). You can view a video of this here.
At the annual International Conscientious Objectors’ Day ceremony on (15th May 2018) on Peace Walk, Red Leicester sang several songs following news about Eritrean refugees and an update on the 2017 Leicester Charter on the militarisation of young people.
A hardy few from Red Leicester journeyed to London and walked from the embankment to Hyde Park on the TUC New Deal for Working People March (12th May 2018):
Several members of Red Leicester attended the International Workers’ Day Rally in Leicester city centre (5th May 2018) listening to several speakers including Marlene Sidaway (President of the International Brigade Memorial Trust):
A small slice of Red Leicester sang Unison in Harmony and There Is Power In A Union at the International Workers’ Memorial Day event in Town Hall Square (28th April 2018). Leicester South MP and Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth posted a video of the choir singing on his Facebook page.
Red Leicester busked in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care in Market Street, raising £62 to add to the collectors’ own efforts (14th April 2018):
Red Leicester sang Bandiera Rossa and the Internationale at a ceremony honouring three Leicester men (Roy Watts, Fred Sykes and Jack Watson) who died fighting in the Spanish Civil War. See more in the Leicester Mercury (30th March 2018).
Members of Red Leicester singing on the UCU picket line outside the University of Leicester in support of their protest against attacks on their pensions (16th March 2018):
Red Leicester singing at its annual Fundraising Ceilidh (10th March 2018) with Greenshoots Ceilidh Orchestra at the Ukrainian Hall. The evening raised just over £714 for our chosen charity, the Real Junk Food Project, who also provided all the food (photo courtesy of Ambrose Musiyiwa/Civic Leicester).
Members of Red Leicester serenading the early morning UCU pickets (6th March 2018) outside the University of Leicester in support of their protest against attacks on their pensions (photo courtesy of Ambrose Musiyiwa/Civic Leicester):
Red Leicester sang several peace songs at the opening of the Art and Protest Exhibition (27th February 2018) in the Basement Gallery of the Adult Education Centre, Belvoir St. The exhibition was illustrated through the work of local artist and veteran peace campaigner, Anna Cheetham (pictured below with Red Leicester, Leicester Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and Bruce Kent – photo courtesy of Ambrose Musiyiwa/Civic Leicester).
Red Leicester joined singers from other choirs at the ceremony to mark the unveiling of the statue of Leicester suffragette Alice Hawkins in the new Market Square (4th February 2018). Elaine Pantling, reprising her role from her one woman show Alice In Her Shoes, once again inspired the crowds. She led the march and gave a speech in Alice Hawkins’s own famous words as the 7ft statue was revealed (read more about the event on the Leicester Mercury website). There was even a photo on the front page of the Guardian (see below)!
Red Leicester opened a series of Choir Nights at Upstairs at the Western theatre and raising £123.60 from the ticket sales for Leicester Time To Change, a local mental health group (24th January 2018):
Red Leicester busked in the cold and damp and raising £71.50 for Leicester Friends of Bethlehem (13th January 2018):
Red Leicester busked in Market Street and raising nearly £150 for Women’s Aid Leicestershire (9th December 2017):
Red Leicester supported a small gathering of Leicester City UNISON in support of the Fair Pay Now campaign for public sector workers (8th December 2017):
Red Leicester sang at the University of Leicester UNICEF on Campus society’s Sing for Syria event in aid of the UNICEF Syrian refugee appeal (5th December 2017):
Members of Red Leicester joined Leicester Friends of the Earth to protest inside and outside Barclays bank in Leicester at the bank’s lack of clarity on when they would fulfil their pledge to disinvest from Third Energy, the company intent on fracking in Ryedale (2nd December 2017). More photos are on the Leicester FoE Facebook page and a report on the protest appeared in the Lutterworth Cloud.
Red Leicester at a meeting of the Leicester Secular Society where they told their story, why they sing and what they sing about – What We Sing Is What We Are (19th November 2017):
Red Leicester members sang in the choir accompanying Elaine Pantling in her one woman show, Alice In Her Shoes, about the Leicester suffragette, Alice Hawkins (28th October 2017). The photograph below shows the whole choir (also including members of Fosse Singers and DMU Square Mile choirs):
Red Leicester busking in Market Street and raising £122.20 for the We Shall Overcome anti-austerity campaign and local food banks (14th October 2017):
(Picture by Lianna Etkind)
Red Leicester sang at the Palestinian Culture Event at the LCB Depot, Rutland Street to raise money for the Leicester Friends of Bethlehem (7th October 2017):
Two photos of Red Leicester at the Gandhi Global Family Peace Festival at De Montfort University (19th July 2017):
Three photos of Red Leicester busking at the Street Choirs Festival in Kendal (24th – 26th June 2017):
and singing in the Saturday evening concert:
Red Leicester singing at the Great Get Together in Leicester Cathedral Gardens (17th June 2017):
(Picture by Mike Sewell, courtesy of Leicester Mercury)
Red Leicester supporting International Conscientious Objectors’ Day on Peace Walk, Leicester (14th May 2017):
Red Leicester outside Barclay’s Bank after the anti-fracking flash mob event (6th May 2017):
Red Leicester singing at International Workers’ Day (1st May 2017) in Jubilee Square, Leicester:
Adey with the banner:
Red Leicester singing at International Workers’ Memorial Day (28th April 2017) in Town Hall Square, Leicester:
Red Leicester performing at the Community Choirs Festival in Stratford (1st April 2017):
Videos of Red Leicester performing four songs at the Street Choirs Festival in Leicester in 2016: You’ve Got a Friend, Walking Into Battle With the Lord, We Will All Go Together When We Go and Feeling Good.
A video of the Massed Sing from the Street Choirs Festival in Leicester in 2016 with all the assembled choirs singing the Internationale.
As ever, Red Leicester supported the annual May Day March in Leicester from Jubilee Square singing Siyahamba as they walked along.
Video of Red Leicester singing I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be a Soldier in August 2014 in Leicester Market to commemorate the centenary of a public anti-war meeting in Leicester in 1914.
Photographs of Red Leicester members at the Street Choirs Festival in Hebden Bridge in 2014.
Video of Red Leicester singing Unison In Harmony (Raise the Rafters) at the Refugee Week celebrations in Town Hall Square in June 2014.
Red Leicester were invited to sing at the 3rd Annual Diggers Festival in Wellingborough in April 2013. The choir sang several songs including the Diggers’ Song, Rosa’s Lovely Daughters, Bread and Roses, Better Life, A Place Called England, Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?, and The World Turned Upside-Down.
Red Leicester performing at the Street Choirs Festival in Aberystwyth in summer 2013.
At the City of Sanctuary May Fair in May 2012 at the Friends’ Meeting House, Red Leicester performed several songs including Song of Peace, Bandiera Rossa, Get On Your Bike, Bread and Roses and How I Wish.
Red Leicester performing Whole Wide World Around and Nana Was a Suffragette at an event to celebrate the life of Leicester suffragette Alice Hawkins, part of Everybody’s Reading Week, in the Secular Hall in October 2012.
At an event to mark the premiere of the Dirty Thirty film at Phoenix, celebrating the Leicestershire miners who refused to work during the Miners’ Strike in 1984-85, Red Leicester sang several songs including Better Life and A Miner’s Life.
More Red Leicester stuff
Ambrose Musiyiwa has taken a number of photos and videos of Red Leicester performing, which can be seen on his CivicLeicester YouTube pages.
There are also some other videos of Red Leicester singing on YouTube.