Above: ‘Australia’s Got Talent’ judge Lucy Durack in tears after the Hummingsong Choir’s performance; choir founder Anna Humberstone.
There was hardly a dry eye in the house when 300 women took to the stage on TV’s Australia’s Got Talent Sunday night, to sing the Keane hit, Somewhere Only We Know.
It wasn’t just the touching lyrics about growing older and longing for simpler times that had the judges weeping; it was the remarkable choir’s back-story. This was the Hummingsong Community Choir – a Sydney-based network of women’s choirs founded by Anna Humberstone to not only bring music and connection into womens’ lives, but to raise awareness and funds for women and children escaping domestic violence.
One of the choir’s members interviewed for the Got Talent show, a survivor of what she described as “severe domestic violence”, said that the choir had helped her to find her voice, speak out about the abuse she was suffering, and find emotional support and healing.
Describing the way victims often feel trapped, she explained: “You cannot tell anybody. You are invisible and you are silent”.
Finding the choir was, for her, an unexpected door to freedom.
“The choir’s helped me to become visible and I broke a silence that was never to be broken,” she said. “By knowing that I’m accepted, and that it’s alright to be me, I got so much support, and I’ve even had people tell me now that because I have become visible and spoken, that they’re going to do it too.”
Not a Religious Choir – But Maybe Angels Are Among Them
Hummingsong Community Choir has six groups that rehearse in church halls and community centres around Sydney’s North Shore. They perform at fundraising events to raise money for women’s shelters, and have been supported by high-profile artists such as Christine Anu and Lior.
And while they’re not a faith-based choir, it’s hard not to wonder if there’s a few angels singing with them; after their performance Got Talent judge Nicole Sherzinger, the former Pussycat Dolls singer, said hearing their performance was a “spiritual” experience. Actor-singer Lucy Durack was visibly emotional, as was actor Shane Jacobson, who choked back tears saying he wished his children and wife had been there to witness their performance too.
The choirs are primarily a capella groups (performing without musical accompaniment), and they sing a wide range of music styles including soul, pop, classical, gospel and jazz.
Due to their rapidly growing popularity the Hummingsong Community Choirs are currently “full”– but they have a waiting list for those who want to express an interest to join, and are looking to establish more choir groups around Sydney and Australia.
The choir has made it through to the next round of the Got Talent competition.