Meet the Sussex choir members who sang at the Brits
- Credit: Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment
The closing performance of 'Anywhere Away From Here' at the 2021 Brit Awards by Uckfield's Rag'n'Bone Man and Pink accompanied by the Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir raised goosebumps across the country and now a version is available to buy as a charity single.
Among the choir performers who featured both at the Brits and on the track are three Sussex members: soprano Camille Hirons from Shoreham-By-Sea, alto Joanne Neophytou-Linn from Brighton and bass Graeme Tyler from Lewes.
They are delighted by the single, which is a tribute to NHS colleagues across the UK who carried out extraordinary work during the pandemic. The money raised will go to the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Charity and NHS Charities Together, which represents the charities of all NHS Trusts in the UK and will be used to ramp up mental health and wellbeing programmes and facilities for staff across the UK.
Camille, who studied at University Hospital Lewisham and is now a General Practitioner in south east London says the experience was ‘utterly incredible’.
‘I felt so lucky to have this amazing opportunity to sing with such fantastic stars while celebrating the NHS,’ she says. ‘When I first walked on stage, I had a buzz of excitement and nervous butterflies. I looked up at the cheering crowds to see the key workers and got quite emotional thinking of the year we’ve all had and how hard everyone has worked. I left feeling really proud of the choir.’
She’s excited about what the charity single could help to achieve.
‘I hope it helps to raise awareness of the wonderful things NHS charities help support,’ she says. ‘For example, our trust has just paid for two psychologists to help staff who have been struggling during the pandemic.’
Graeme, who works in the Children’s Emergency Department as well as the Hippo ward where children are looked after and made to feel comfortable as they are assessed for further treatment options, says it was ‘surreal’ to take to the stage at the Brits.
‘It was incredibly flattering for us to be asked to perform at the event and as a group of NHS professionals it was something very unusual for us,’ he says. ‘We performed with two global superstars in front of an audience of keyworkers, and I felt honoured to be performing for people who had given so much.
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‘We met Rag'n'Bone Man for the first time the day before the performance and he put us all at ease with his kindness, willingness to talk to us and pose for photographs.
‘A multitude of things ran through my mind while on stage. First and foremost was: don't forget the words. It was also incredible walking out knowing that an audience of 4,000 people were there and then to hear them cheer as we turned round was a wonderful feeling. As a nurse, performing at the O2 with my colleagues is something that most people can only dream of. I also remember thinking that I hope I don't let my colleagues or the superstars down.’
News that the charity single was being released was the icing on the cake.
‘The generosity of Rag'n'Bone Man, Pink and their record companies to donate the proceeds to NHS Charities together and our own Trust charity is an astonishing gesture,’ he says. ‘There are so many amazing things the charities support, including wellbeing support for staff who really need it at the moment and other initiatives that support patient experience. Thank you to everyone who has generously donated their money by downloading or streaming the single.’
Since winning The Brit Rising Star award in 2017 Rag'n'Bone Man, whose real name is Rory Graham, has earned a total of three Brit Awards. Three years after his debut, 'Human', the artist has now released a new album titled Life By Misadventure, which is rising in the charts. It features the original version of 'Anywhere Away From Here' with Pink alongside another stand-out single, 'All You Ever Wanted'.
Rag'n'Bone Man is touring the UK in autumn, which begins with a performance at Brighton Centre on October 17. The artist says it’s likely to be an emotional start to the tour.
‘I'm gonna cry, 100%,’ he says. ‘It’ll be emotional because I haven't sung most of the songs in public before properly. Apart from a couple... and so I don't really know how they're going to make me feel. That's always the worry that when you write the songs and you’re in the moment when you write them it’s great, but then when you have to play them in front of people and you have to look people in the face when you're saying these things, the worry is that it'll be too emotional. But I'm ready for it.’