The Absolut Choir launches in London
On Tuesday night, Years & Years singer and It’s A Sin star Olly Alexander led the first public performance of The Absolut Choir in a gig like no other at the iconic Night Tales in Hackney, London.
My name is Ilā and I’m one of the performers in the choir. I’m also a member of Trans Creative Collective and director of Trans Voices, the UK’s first professional Trans+ choir.
So, how did this all begin? Absolut Vodka and Olly Alexander came to us to talk about getting involved in the Absolut Choir, a new, inclusive singing group, championing diversity and acceptance.
Both Olly and Absolut have a long history of shining a spotlight on social issues and underrepresented groups. And, with Olly's talent and shared values of diversity and inclusion, there's no one better to front this new project.
We can really make progress by engaging with grass root communities, building connections and making spaces together. That is really how we build a better tomorrow.- Olly Alexander
The choir is made up of some of the UK’s leading changemakers, and was formed to turn up the volume on causes including body positivity, disability awareness and equal rights for all.
Alongside Olly, members of the choir included body acceptance advocate and model Nyome Nicholas-Williams, disability champion Sian Lord and trans rights advocate and writer Kenny Ethan Jones, as well as other Trans Creative Collective members.
Working together has reaffirmed the importance of connecting with different communities and how allyship is such an important thing, we have really learnt so much from each other that we feel like a family - Kenny Ethan Jones
Our hero track is a never-heard-before new arrangement of the Years & Years’ track Shine. Olly describes the song as being ‘all about finding the light in the darkness.’ He sings with such breathtaking passion and precision, full of joy and intention.
I’m still buzzing after last night. When we’re all on stage together, something magic happens – like we’re bigger than the sum of our parts. There’s this electricity in the air, a palpable excitement that this is just the beginning of something huge.
One of the ideas behind the choir is that we were all Born to Mix. It sees individuals from different backgrounds, with different beliefs and passions, come together for the first time to prove that, together, they are louder and, together, they can make people listen.
We are spotlighting the genuine struggles we face with transphobia, racism, fatphobia and ableism, which all share a common root. This is why the only way we can make real progress is through intersectional communities - Coda, Trans Voices
The biggest leaps in culture have always happened at those intersections where people mix. Take the Ballroom Scene in New York in the 1970s, where an African-American and Latino LGBTQ+ subculture birthed an entirely new universe of music, dance, and fashion.
Changemaker Nyome says she ‘hopes people see themselves represented in the choir and know that communities mixing is such a beautiful thing.’
Here's the thing. Diversity is beautiful, natural and so what a person looks like should have no bearing on their safety or their opportunities in life. This project isn’t about erasing what’s already here, it’s about bringing more to the party.
Olly said: “When Absolut came to me with this project I instantly had so many ideas, from working with the TCC and Trans Voices to re-recording Shine, I wanted The Absolut Choir to be entirely inclusive. I have worked in this industry for a while and can genuinely say this has been one of the most diverse productions I have ever been involved in, from the crew to the people both in front of and behind the camera, it’s good to feel like things are changing.
“I’m so lucky to have a platform for my voice and I want to use it to put the spotlight on people and things that need to be heard. We are literally here to amplify people’s voices and I can’t wait to see what else is to come from these incredible people.”
Throughout this project we all felt like a family, a true sense of belonging. We hope that the legacy of this choir is that younger people know that they are accepted and that they are loved, no matter what they look like, who they love or what their body can do.
Visit absolut.com/uk/borntomix to discover the stories behind the people involved in The Absolut Choir. Share the video and tag @absolutuk to make their voices even louder.