By guest blogger KATHERINE JENKINS
All around the world, Christmas is looking a little different this year – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still joy to be found. Welsh songstress and GREAT Ambassador Katherine Jenkins tells us about the phenomenal impact of her lockdown concerts, and the Christmas treat she has created to bring some festive cheer.
When the first COVID-19 lockdown started in the UK, I couldn’t stop thinking of people like my Mum, potentially lonely and afraid. Whilst I knew I couldn’t help like the amazing frontline NHS workers in hospitals around the country, I knew I could sing a few songs and keep people company. And so, I came up with the idea of a Saturday night live concert from home on Facebook.
During that first show, surprised by the number of people who tuned in, I made a promise to perform every week of lockdown, expecting that to be for two to three weeks. Five months and 20 concerts later, my global audience has come to feel like part of the family.
I am often asked what my memory of lockdown is, and it is without doubt this experience. My ‘Lockdown Lovelies’ came from all over the world – from Cork to Cardiff, Moscow to Maryland, Spain to Saskatchewan. They watched with their friends and their families, whether in person or virtually from different countries. They wore evening gowns, they wore sweatpants, they brought their Sunday morning coffee or their favourite Saturday night tipple. They shared their birthdays, their anniversaries, their disappointments and their losses. We were all in this together. We were all going through the same thing, but it was music that got us through.
And so, over the summer, when a question mark was being raised about a potential second wave and the likelihood of Christmas concerts and carol services not happening this year, I knew I had to do something. With the help of some truly fabulous friends – including Sir Bryn Terfyl, Vanessa Redgrave, Bill Nighy, Marisha Wallace, Alberto Urso, dancers from the English National Ballet and the Royal Airforce regiment band to name a few – I created a fully fledged musical feature film packed with all the joy and nostalgia of Christmas. In the same way the Facebook concerts were a family affair, my Christmas Spectacular is my family trying to bring some festive cheer to families out there at the end of a particularly hard year.
Filmed at The Royal Albert Hall with a Night at the Museum-style story line, we were given incredible access to take the viewer on a magical musical tour through the iconic building, seeing action happening on the roof, the basement, the boxes and the backstage. Knowing the Royal Albert Hall is facing such massive challenges, we made them our partners in the hope that funds through this endeavour will be driven their way.
In this crazy and challenging year, I have been overwhelmed by the goodness in people, by the pulling together of communities and by those putting others first. In the darkest of times, there have been rainbows, and everyone I asked to participate in the project understood the sentiment of what we were trying to achieve immediately. Everyone brought great passion and this show comes with a really big heart. My hope is that it entertains, that it brings some seasonal warmth, and that maybe, just maybe, it even gets our audiences feeling festive enough to sing along!
Our film ends with a special dedication for all those separated from their loved ones this Christmas. You may be apart, but you are not alone. We are united in the power of music.
All views expressed in this blog are the views of the guest blogger and do not represent the views of the GREAT campaign.