And so, after tales of tears, trampolines, toys, ice cream, singing, SeaChange, and whales, we come to the last installment of my weekend at Moruya with the Strange Weather Gospel Choir. Warning, folks: this is a long’un, as I’ve decided I need to tie this escapade up for all our sakes. I recommend you grab a cuppa and a bikkie and settle in.
After our unexpected whale-watching adventure, Fi and I ate a quick dinner before speed-walking to the venue of our second – and principle – concert of the weekend. Fi and I made it in time not only for the warm-up, but for one of us to thrill passing strangers by first pulling on, and then shimmying out of, her tights in broad daylight on the side of the road. I shan’t name names, but I think you can see for yourself which one of us wore pants that night.
(I’m definitely going to get smacked upside the head for that paragraph at some point.)
Anyhoodle… behold! The Strange Weather Gospel Choir in all its glossy singing purple-accessorised glory!
(How does one sing with jingle-jangle, you might ask? It’s something you have to see for yourself, I think. And I do have a few video clips…)
My favourites from our first set were our African pieces (N’kosi Sikelele, Vuma, and Siyahamba/Ipharadis), predominately because we tend to get rather into them and I’m not immune to the comic aspect of 50 (predominantly) white people exuberantly singing in multiple African languages. I must also give shout-outs to our fabulous first set soloists: Mike and Emily in Soon I Will Be Done, Deb for an emotive performance of Up To The Mountain, and Tom, whose smoky, soulful voice during Go Down Moses never fails to make me think I’ve been transported to a thrillingly shadowy 1920s speakeasy.
Our second set began with Shenandoah, and then it was time for my solo. I was, I believe the word is, terrified. I remember walking up to the microphone, looking briefly at Mum and Dad for support, pretending I didn’t know Dad was filming, breathing through the choir’s intro, getting my first high line out, and then thinking “Okay. Okay. I can do this.”
I’d like to quickly thank the choir for their amazing support both before and after my solo. I know that I tend to bounce around at rehearsals like a child who’s just downed several litres of something fizzy, but I’d really like to take this moment to express my gratitude for your wonderful kindness.
However, to get away from gushiness and back to the let’s-have-a-giggle-at-Hannah norm of this blog, the below photo is apparently what my face does when I’m both stunned and relieved that I’ve survived a solo:
If eyes are the windows to the soul, I think my soul was saying imadeitimadeitwhere’sthechocolateandthesugarandthechocolateandthesugarandthe-oopsherewegonextsong! All sugar cravings were forgotten as Chris took to the stage with the most incredible and hilarious rendition of his preacher-man act for In That Great Getting Up Morning. I’ll miss you, Chris!
We finished our concert with a sparkly version of Where Shall I Be, and then it was out into the warm, star-filled, crisp-aired night. I hugged my parents and thanked them for coming, made my way to the pub for brief celebratory drinks with the choir, and then snuck back to the hotel with Fi for chocolate, lollies, and How I Met Your Mother (thanks free hotel wifi!). It was a lovely end to the night.
The next morning, Fi and I woke up bright and early because the splendiferous Andy had invited us to have breakfast with him in his hotel room. We were offered either banana bread, which Fi gladly partook in (above), or Andy’s crazy-insane breakfast speciality that, once I heard existed, I couldn’t not try.
Vegemite Raisin Toast.
Andy, I have one word to say to you: FANTASTICAMICAL. I’m in awe. You took something that I’ve never liked (raisin toast), and turned it into something that I now crave. Thus is the magic of The Andy and The Vegemite.
Unfortunately, there is no magic of The Hannah and The Vegemite, because this is what happens when I try to do something normal and simple like make toast:
Dear fellow hotel patrons: I’m sorry for setting off the smoke alarm at 8:40am on a Sunday morning and then making it worse by taking the still-shrieking alarm outside our room and therefore closer to yours.
I knew not what I did, I promise.
Once we were appropriately fuelled, Fi, Andy, and I made our way to our last performance of the weekend, where the SWGC sang Down In The River To Pray, They Crucified My Lord, Holy Holy Holy, and I Want To Be Ready. We danced our way out of the hall singing When The Saints Go Marching In, then realised it was, sadly, time to go home.
And that, my friends, is the story of how Fi and I left Canberra on a Friday afternoon, full of enthusiasm for the weekend ahead, and returned exactly 48 hours later with memories more wonderful that we’d ever hoped to catch and keep in our hearts.