Think of traditional choirs and one may conjure up a fusty image full of musically educated members clutching complicated sheets packed with tightly woven strings of notes.
But since 2005, a new energy has been injected into the choir scene in the form of the Rock Choir phenomenon, which has swept the nation. Thanks to the efforts of 31-year-old music expert Jessica Hunting, there are now many groups to choose from in Northamptonshire itself.
Jessica is busy. She not only runs two Rock Choirs in Northampton (morning and evening) but she also runs sessions in Higham Ferrers, Kettering and Market Harborough. Next month she also has plans to open a new one in Towcester and is currently seeking new members.
Across the choirs, there are currently about 200 members and that number seems to be growing.
With Rock Choirs, there is no audition and no ability to read music is required, but Jessica uses her skills as a musician to help groups prepare songs for performance.
She said: “They have been running for a year now and people can join at any point. People can perform in public, which is a massive thing for some members. We do a mixture of Motown, pop, rock and gospel.”
Member Angela Condon, aged 59, from Kingsthorpe, Northampton, said: “I have known Jessica since she was a little girl and she asked me to join when she first started it all off; she knew I loved singing.
“Rock Choirs were started off by Caroline Redmond Lusher, she started it all off by getting people together to sing, there were no auditions and you did not have to be able to sing or read music, she just wanted to get people singing.”
Linda Aslett, aged 48, from Kettering, said: “I have been a Northamptonshire member for one year but prior to that I was a Cambridgeshire member. I used to drive to Huntingdon before Jess came along. I love to sing, but not on my own. It is the songs that are great, they are up to date and things we know.”
Jan Sutherland, from Hunsbury Hill in Northampton, said: “Jess has been fantastic and I love the Rock Choir; now I don’t have to sing for my husband all the time. I love performing with the choir and it is great to sing modern music.”
Members pay a fee to join, which allows many of the performances to raise money for charities such as Missing People. For information on joining the new choir or any of the existing groups, ring 01252 714276 or visit rockchoir.com.