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Jessa’s Fieldsinging Larks 9.3.21

On 28th March 2020, with all my forthcoming performances and choir sessions cancelled, even outdoor park sings, I had the idea of sharing a solo “field sing” on Facebook, with me singing a well known song for people to enjoy listening to or singing along with at home.

Here I am….

This seemed to go down quite well with online followers, friends, and my choir singers, and even inspired one of my “Singing For All” group, Harry Waterworth, to create a watercolour fieldsinger portrait! I was so touched by this and I think he captured my first fieldsing really well. This first #fieldsing now has over 2300 views on Facebook.

“Singing in a field” by Harry Waterworth

So I decided to continue – the next week I recorded “You’ve got a friend”, then “Wild Mountain Thyme”, “My love is like a red red rose” and “Fields of gold”. These were all pre-recorded then posted on Facebook and You Tube at 10am each Saturday morning.

Then in week 6, something changed……I had had a particularly busy week (if I remember rightly ,it was the week I performed a 26 song singathon for Dementia Forward!) and hadn’t had a chance to think about recording a song. So , for the first time, I performed the field sing live! This meant a little added pressure and a few nerves, but also it added something special to the event and I had lots of positive comments about the heightened armosphere of a live performance. I also really enjoyed seeing a few people join in live, reacting and commenting as I sang. The field sing idea was never intended to be a “perfect performance” but a natural one, singing with the birds, in all weathers. Here is the first “live” #fieldsing – “The fields of Athenry”.

The first truly live field sing!

Since then, I have never looked back.

Every Saturday, whatever the weather, I have gone outside, to fields, lanes, woods, and performed whatever song seemed apt at the time. Some weeks I have a song in mind all week, some weeks I decide 5 minutes before I leave the house or even as I walk to the field!

Some weeks, I chat for a while about my week, and any forthcoming events that people can get involved with ; other weeks I don’t feel like chatting much so will quickly get on to the chosen song.

Some weeks, I feel upbeat and energetic – others more reflective, and the song choices reflect this. I decided to record all the field sing choices I have done so far to mark the 50th #fieldsing last Saturday- here is the list…

  1. Lean on me
  2. You’ve got a friend
  3. Wild Mountain Thyme
  4. My love is like a red, red rose
  5. Fields of gold
  6. Fields of Athenry
  7. It’s a lovely day tomorrow / Look for the silver lining
  8. My favourite mash-up!
  9. She moved through the fair
  10. Alfie
  11. Catch the wind
  12. Sing / Teach the world to sing
  13. When you’re smiling
  14. Blackbird / In my life
  15. Edelweiss / A bell is no bell
  16. Yesterday once more
  17. I have a dream
  18. Songbird
  19. World of our own
  20. Top of the world
  21. Keep right on to the end of the road
  22. We sing
  23. Somewhere
  24. Those who wish to sing
  25. I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
  26. Beautiful
  27. Some kind of wonderful
  28. Stand by me
  29. Danny Boy
  30. A little peace
  31. Spread a little happiness
  32. Love me tender
  33. May your cup always be full
  34. My love my life
  35. California Dreaming
  36. Happy Wanderer
  37. In the bleak mid winter
  38. Mary, did you know?
  39. The angel Gabriel
  40. Something inside so strong
  41. The water is wide
  42. Hey Jude
  43. Bridge over troubled water
  44. Drunken Sailor / Sailing
  45. I have a dream
  46. You’ll never walk alone
  47. Falling in love with you
  48. Lovely day
  49. After the rain
  50. LEAN ON ME

..It was only when I went to write all the songs down that I realised I had performed “I have a dream” twice! But no apologies for the repetition of my first #fieldsing choice, “Lean on me” for my 50th week. Bill Withers’ lyrics are so so relevant…..

“lean on me, when you’re not strong, I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on, for, it won’t be long , ’til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.”

#fieldsing 50 – a repeat of lean on me, with a list of all the songs performed so far #inafield

The whole fieldsing idea has prompted me towards other online singing projects and challenges. While away in Norfolk last Summer, I performed morning #seasongs for 5 consecutive days on my solo walks.

Leading up to Christmas, I performed a song live every day in December for my #Adventsingalong in aid of Singing For All, helping me to raise funds to keep Singing For All with Jessa CIC going through these lean times.

These structured routines of singing at particular times have really kept me going. Although I am generally very lucky with my health, like most people, I have had rough times and down days through all this. But each Saturday, I know I am going to get up and out to sing. Having this expectation of myself has really helped keep me motivated – and we all know that singing makes you feel better!

It is so true for me, and from some of the encouraging comments I have had, the fieldsings have had an uplifting effect on listeners too.

All this has also led to an exciting collaboration with my better half, my actor husband Mick, who has been reciting poetry down country lanes throughout the lockdowns. Together, we have created a show inspired by our outdoor performance, “Fields and lanes”, which we are very excited to be performing at Helmsley Arts Centre this Saturday – a live stream performance. Although I regularly perform live on You Tube and Facebook, the idea of performing our full show in an empty theatre is a strange thought…

Any any case, we are both very excited about it and hope that lots of our friends will be buying tickets to tune in and support. This time, we have also recruited some more performers to the outdoor performing craze, with our creative fields and lanes project! These fellow actors and singers will be appearing in the show virtually and it has been really moving to put together their contributions and to collaborate with them. These colleagues are wide-ranging ; they hail from all over the country from Essex to the North-East, and range from experienced professional performers to avocational singers seeking a new experience. It has been so valuable to have every one of them on board and to spread the joy of performing outdoors. If you would like to join us, here’s how…

https://www.helmsleyarts.co.uk/whats-on/fields-and-lanes-livestream-from-hac

Sometime on Saturday, will be #fieldsing 51….leading up to a full year of field singing and a full year of online singing performances, classes and lessons . A year which has seen me develop and embrace so many different skills and ways of working.

My next step will be to negotiate the next 6 months….continuing to use all I have learned and continuing to engage people from a wide area, while gradually reintroducing “real life” aspects of my work.

A huge challenge…watch this space for developments!

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