Launched by Becky Chalmers in May 2016, Real Voices is a forward-thinking, vibrant choir that celebrates the fact that all voices are unique. This choir start-up has been so ground-breaking in the industry that it has been awarded first place in the entrepreneurial Dragon’s Den organized by Guildhall School Entrepreneurs, Creative Entrepreneurs Pitch night 2017.
Our Creative Entrepreneurs Founder Carolyn Dailey had the pleasure to judge on the panel, an eye-opening event on the business potential in the performing arts world, and we had a little chat with the Founder of Real Voices.
Becky Chalmers talks the Caribbean, the power of music, and how to muster up the courage to start something new.
So what is Real Voices?
Basically, we believe that you don’t have to have musical training/experience in order to be musical!
We are a thriving network of choirs for adults in South London. We’re open to absolutely everyone regardless of musical experience and strive to challenge expectations of what a non-auditioned choirs can achieve.
For example, we perform unique and challenging choral covers of popular music with a live band and also collaborate with up and coming singer song-writers. We’re about giving everyone the chance to make great music and building much needed tight knit communities in a big city.
It’s relevant now and will always be relevant because it’s about bringing that extra something to people’s lives. Whether that be a creative outlet, a de-stresser after a hectic day, a way to meet new people or quite simply some “you time”, singing with us has a positive effect on our member’s lives.
In a big city like London we need more ways of connecting with people around us.
Singing has an incredible way of bringing people together very quickly. It also just feels really good to sing in harmony with others and is quite addictive, in a good way!
So aside from your love for music, what really was the driving force and ambition bringing you to actually start a business from it?
I was incredibly privileged to spend the first 2 years of my working life on the Caribbean island of Montserrat with the job description of inspiring the youth of the island to make music. Through setting up sustainable community music programmes I experienced first hand the undeniable power that music has to unite and empower people.
I was hooked.
On my return to London I craved that feeling of knowing I had created something that was having such a positive effect on people’s lives. So, I started We Are Real Voices.
It was six months in when our membership grew from 35 to 50 people from one rehearsal to the next that I realised this was a thing. This was backed up when I launched the second choir and 40 people came to the first rehearsal.
This has shown me that, actually, people want and need this in their lives, and given me the confidence to go on and grow the company further.
What’s next? What’s your future looking like?
We hope to be able to expand further and bring the joy of choral singing to as many people as possible.
This sounds all absolutely great, but surely you encountered some obstacles/draw-backs?
The fear of failure on launching our second choir is the biggest doubt we have for our future. There’s always the risk when starting something from scratch like that that nobody will come. It’s understanding that and then pushing yourself to give it a go anyway.
What’s the worst that could have happened if nobody came? Instead, I had 40 people at our first rehearsal. So was very glad I got over that fear of failure and gave it a go!
What are the top tips you’d give to somebody wanting to start-up like you did?
Ideas are the easy part – as a creative person, you probably have a lot of them. You’ve got to actually force yourself to research it further, test the waters and if it’s actually feasible… make it happen!
You’ve got to give it a go. Doing something you love and making it happen for yourself is the best feeling in the world. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses, where you excel and where you need support – and don’t be afraid to ask for it!
Starting your own venture can be quite isolating, so find a way to meet like minded people doing their own thing too.
Support each other – it’s great to chat things through with real people rather than just bouncing ideas around your own head.