This Saturday, as part of the national Refugee Week Celebrations, JRS UK held The Joy of Gospel: A Gospel Choir Workshop for members of the local community. Attended by over 30 people, the workshop offered the opportunity to learn a number of Gospel songs taught by the JRS UK Refugee Gospel Choir.
Megan Knowles, Development and Communications Manager of JRS UK said: “It was an incredible day of sharing and celebrating together. I’m so often asked, ‘what can I do to help support refugees?’, Saturday afternoon provided an opportunity for some of the refugees we accompany at JRS to help us, to support us in a fun and relaxed way. Sharing their skill and passion for singing with us. The atmosphere was infectiously joyful!”
After enjoying afternoon tea together in the gardens of the JRS UK office in Wapping, attendees were guided through a number of vocal warm-up exercises before being taught the first song ‘Kwaze Kwabona kala’. This acapella song has a chorus sung in Zulu that translates as ‘When he comes I shall be like him’, reiterated the roots of gospel music being firmly set in offering up praise. Participants were then guided through a version of ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘I need you to survive’ before a final run through of the whole set list including a solo from a member of the refugee choir.
William Neal, Communications assistant at JRS UK, said: “It was a really fun and enjoyable day; everyone was really getting into the spirit of things. A lot of credit has to be given to the choir who led us through the songs because the sound we were creating by the end of the day was pretty good given that nobody there had ever sung together before.”
The Joy of Gospel: A Gospel Choir Workshop was part of a wide number of events happening across the country throughout June that celebrated the contribution, resilience and creativity of refugees. On World Refugee Day JRS UK also held a conference that examined and discussed the human realities of seeking asylum in the UK. ‘Refugee Stories: Changing the Narrative’ explored how the voices of refugees and asylum seekers can be heard and inform change. The Joy of Gospel: A Gospel Choir Workshop furthered this narrative by showing that refugees are more than just statistics, but people of gifts, interests and talents also.