Barnsley Youth Choir at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018

Listening to Good Morning Sunday on Radio2, they were talking about the passing of the queen of soul Aretha Franklin.

They were interviewing David Nathan, author, biographer, singer and friend. He recalled a time when he took his daughter to see Aretha sing. Apparently she turned to him and said, “Everyone is crying?!” His response… “That’s the power of the real thing.” Well a lot of people witnessed the real thing at the Fringe. Powerful, beautiful, moving.

Whilst I’ve had the pleasure of photographing a few of their concerts now, nothing could have prepared me for spending time with them off-stage. Such wonderful, open, gracious, caring and genuine people. Every last one of them.

I could only make it up on the Monday and Tuesday due to prior engagements, and by the time I got there I could see they were both physically and emotionally tired. But armed with a plentiful supply of Berocca and Belvita, copious amounts of water, full English breakfasts and unfaltering attention from the incredible red t-shirt brigade, they gave the performance of their lives, each and every time. Even when it was so wet the stage had to be swept clear of water.

Sometimes being a photographer is hard – people who don’t like having their photo taken can make you feel about as welcome as a fart in a lift. But the number of these guys who thanked me personally – unprompted – didn’t do anything to help the tears I couldn’t stop. All professional composure went out of the window as soon as their beautiful voices surrounded and lifted me to another world. Every time! despite my, “solid resolve not to cry this time!!!” That’s the power of the real thing.

Watching the passion with which they sing, I feel every word. The tears in their eyes tells me that they do too. It’s not just a performance.

Having nipped into the rest room after one of the concerts to try and regain my composure (and wipe the snot and tears off the backs of my cameras) one of the choir saw me and offered me a hug, such a wonderful gesture, and was gladly accepted. She said, “music has the power to move us.” Whilst I can’t dispute that, it’s the BYC family and their incredible love, goodness in their hearts and incredible talent that had the power to move me, and many like me. (Coldplay’s Fix You never made me cry until these guys sang it!!!)

I’m so honoured to have gained access to such wonderful people. I’m inspired and thankful for each and every one I’ve met, hugged, and cried on.

They’ve given me more JOY and hope in humanity than they will ever know and I am so grateful. Here are some of our memories…