The Hearing Voices Choir (from left) Laurie Marriott, Chloe Macaque (rear), Ray Parry, Charli (rear), Vicki Scott, Kim Coleman (rear), Helen Coyle and Natalie Beard join Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin in Lismore yesterday.
The Hearing Voices Choir (from left) Laurie Marriott, Chloe Macaque (rear), Ray Parry, Charli (rear), Vicki Scott, Kim Coleman (rear), Helen Coyle and Natalie Beard join Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin in Lismore yesterday. Cathy Adams

Hearing Voices Choir sings carols

SINGING in public is enough to send most into a panic attack, but for Natalie Beard, the Hearing Voices Choir co-ordinator, singing is an antidote for anxiety and social phobia.

“I’m a different person when I sing. It gives me so much confidence,” Ms Beard said.

Members of the cunningly named Hearing Voices Choir include those with a mental illness, their carers, friends or family, and those who work in the field of mental health.

Federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, whole-heartedly welcomed their Christmas carols outside her office in Lismore yesterday.

“Christmas carols are so joyful. Everybody in town is rushing around, it’s nice to feel a bit Christmassy,” Ms Saffin said.

The irony of a group of people singing Joy To The World to frazzled Christmas shoppers wasn’t lost on choir member Helen Coyle.

“I feel like I’ve turned full circle. Last Christmas I bumped into some friends who asked me to sing and here I am in the choir,” Ms Coyle said.

Ms Coyle explained she had learned to express herself far better through the power of song.

“I’m more in touch with myself when I sing,” she said.

According to Ms Beard, the idea for the Hearing Voices Choir came from founder Gabrielle Le Bon, who was inspired by the success of the hit reality series Choir of Hard Knocks, which documented the musical journey of underprivileged and mentally-ill Sydney-siders.

“We’re inspired by the Choir of Hard Knocks, but we’re not just a Lismore knock-off. We have our own issues,” Ms Beard said.

The Hearing Voices Choir has been singing since May last year and has recorded a CD and travelled around Australia.



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