South Shields musician launches community choir to help tackle mental health issues
South Shields musician Jen Stevens is hoping the power of song will bring the community together and help those experiencing mental health issues.
Inspired by her own struggles, the 32-year-old is launching a community choir at The Custom Space in South Shields, with the first session due to take place on Wednesday, July 31.
Jen, who has been performing since she was 16, is a favourite on the North East music scene, both as a solo artist and with her band, Jen Stevens and the Hiccups.
She has also been a passionate advocate for mental health in the community, after music helped her to cope with the death of her mum in 2012.
“Without music, I probably wouldn’t be here,” Jen said
“Singing and music helped me so much to heal from losing my mum and getting through a really bad time, I wanted to let other people experience that.
“The community element of signing together as a group can be massively therapeutic.”
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The choir will be recording vocal arrangements to feature on Jen’s next solo album, the follow up to her debut which came out in 2017.
“The new album is about coming through the grief and surrounding yourself with people, so I wanted to get more people involved to reflect that,” she continued. “I’ve written most of the arrangements myself, with a view to recording them and putting them on the album.”
The sessions will also include opportunities for participants to open up and seek advice from the group.
However, Jen believes that the choir could have huge benefits for everyone, not only those experiencing mental ill-health.
“Humans aren’t made to be solitary, we need to be a pack, and that’s something we have lost a bit. We’re all stuck behind screens and phones, not interacting with our local community as much as we used to,” she added.
“Singing allows us to have that emotional outlet, it’s such a joyous thing, and not just for those with mental health problems, it’s for anybody, any age, gender or ability.”
Anyone interested in getting involved can contact Jen at firstname.lastname@example.org