Positive News subscriber James Sills explains why the magazine resonates with him, and how his work in community singing has similarly positive reverberations
I started following Positive News on Twitter last year and then came across the print version by chance at the airport last summer. I immediately loved it: the writing, the format, the photography, the ethos. I’m now a subscriber and look forward to the magazine dropping through my letterbox every few months. My daughter, who’s two, is also a big fan!
I’m a natural optimist. Much of the mainstream media seems to be locked in a vicious circle of negativity, fear and sensationalist clickbait that leaves people feeling helpless and hopeless. By contrast, I always feel empowered and more hopeful for humanity after reading Positive News, which actually creates a virtuous circle. I also really appreciate the way that it gives a voice and a platform to those often ignored (and vilified) in the mainstream press.
I’m a freelance vocal leader with a passion for bringing people together to sing. I run regular choirs and workshops across the UK for community groups, organisations and businesses. My most recent project is Wrexham One Love Choir, Wales’ first homeless choir. Everything I do is open access, meaning that people don’t have to audition or be able to read music to participate. I believe in the power of singing together and its multiple benefits, such as community-building and improvement to people’s wellbeing.
I set up my blog, www.everydaysinging.com, to share inspiring content from across the singing world. I want to inform, encourage and empower more people to sing together. Every week, I add articles, videos, podcasts, talks, quotes and poems. The ethos is very much the same as Positive News’: it’s a positive corner of the internet where people can learn, be inspired by the actions of others and hopefully take action themselves!
I always feel empowered and more hopeful for humanity after reading Positive News
Singing together is a fundamental part of being human. Like dancing and laughing, it’s best when shared with other people. Singing in groups, whether it’s on the football terraces, in a choir, in a pub or at a festival, makes us feel better and more connected. I think we know this intuitively, but it’s supported by lots of recent research.
However, I realise that a lot of people feel inhibited to sing in public for fear of shame or worries about being ‘tone deaf ’. This is why I’ve written my book, Do Sing. Reclaim Your Voice. Find Your Singing Tribe, to alleviate fears and encourage more people to go out into the world and sing.
As well as bringing us together, singing also connects us to ourselves: to our breathing, to our posture, to our emotions. In a busy world, where our minds are often in a thousand places at once, singing in a group gives us the opportunity to stop, focus and be fully present. I think it’s magic!”
Image: James Sills at The Good Life Experience festival in Wales in 2017, leading more than 300 people in song, photographed by Paul Williamson