SPIRIT of the Streets Choir members often turn up to rehearsals with their heads down but leave with a spring in their step, according to member Judy Acaster.
Open to everyone but aimed at marginalised people who have experienced high levels of social exclusion or stigma, the choir was launched in 2007 with a handful of members and has grown to 85.
The choir celebrates 10 years with a concert at Perth Concert Hall on May 6 as part of Sing for Health Week.
Ms Acaster, a Mt Lawley resident who is deaf, said she turned up nine years ago hoping to help but ended up singing.
“I was semi-retired and looking for something on a voluntary basis for fun and to help care for people, but they found out I liked to sing,” she said.
“We have people come in who are recovering form drug and alcohol addiction, or have depression and they come in with their shoulders down, heads down and shuffling heir feet, but after rehearsals they leave with a spring in their step.
“A lot of the time it is hard to tell who has mental health problems and who doesn’t.
“When we perform you can see people in the audience with tears in their eyes because they know the singers are not perfect, but they are trying their hardest and having fun.”
She said the choir published a book with members’ back-stories.
“Some of them I have known for eight or nine years and I had no idea their background,” she said.
“Some people don’t tell us anything and others develop a trust and open up.”
A story about a performance by the Spirit of the Streets Choir from 2013.
Inglewood singer Cath Jennings brought her charge Dave, who has Down syndrome, along about five years ago.
“He did more dancing than singing but eventually he decided he wanted to do golf, but I stayed,” she said.
The choir was formed after a chance meeting between Big Issue Magazine Manager Rachel Pemberton and musician Bernard Carney.
“I’d worked extensively with choirs so we decided to give it a go and here we are,” Mr Carney said.
“I could never have predicted the extent to which the choir has had good healing effects on people’s lives.
“There certainly was no overall plan; it just got bigger and bigger by itself.”
What: Spirit of the Streets Choir 10th anniversary concert
When: Saturday, May 6 at 3pm
Where: Perth Concert Hall, 5 St Georges Terrace, Perth
Tickets: $25, or, $20 for concession
Bookings: www.perthconcerthall.com.au or call 9231 9999