The Missing People Choir on Britain’s Got Talent 2017

The Missing People Choir mosaic of members

The Missing People Choir was created in June 2014 by James Hawkins Music and the charity Missing People for those who have had someone missing in their lives.

Most recently James was proud to have prepared and directed the choir’s Britain’s Got Talent audition on the London Palladium stage. Read how Simon Cowell tips them as a favourite in the competition.

James says, “When the choir auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent they weren’t nervous at all; it was just like any other performance because for them it is not about winning or losing a competition. They are singing for a reason, to reach out to a loved one.”

The first episode of this year’s Britain’s Got Talent was on ITV on Saturday 15th April 2017.

You can read more about The Missing People Choir here. 

The London Hospices Choir and Paul Carrack, The Living Years

Jim conducting the tenors for The Living Years at Abbey Road Studios

Last Christmas James Hawkins Music project-managed and produced The Living Years by the London Hospices Choir and Paul Carrack. Film maker Rav Vagdama has created this short film about the making of the song.

Watch here:

We brought together a specially created choir of 300 patients, families, staff and volunteers of all ages from 18 hospices across London with Paul Carrack, the song’s original singer. The song was released at Christmas 2016 to raise awareness and vital funds for the hospices, and stayed at the top of the Official Physical Sales Chart for two weeks.

BA Robertson, the writer of The Living Years, highly commended the new version saying that the vocal was “better than the original”.

Say It In The Living Years artwork

This beautiful song is still available to download here.

HMV (Physical CD)

Amazon (Physical CD)

Amazon (Digital)

iTunes

Lead vocalist, Paul Carrack, said, “The Living Years has been an important song for me for many years, but this is the version that means the most. Recording it with this incredibly special group of people for such a worthwhile cause has created some kind of magic. It’s a powerful and inspiring track, and I hope that everyone gets behind it this Christmas.”

 

Press Enquiries: jameshawkinsmusic.pr@gmail.com

The Missing People Choir and Alice Gross’s song

The Missing People Choir with James Hawkins Directing

I’m extremely proud to have continued work with an amazing and strong group of people who come together to sing for their missing loved ones. The Missing People Choir is made up of family members and friends who have lost a loved one. They are the most significant group of voices I’ve ever worked with and what we create together goes way beyond just singing. There is real purpose, a strong message, a release of true and deeply felt emotion as every word being sung is fuelled with the hope of reaching a missing person, a missing loved one, son, daughter, sister, brother, child…. It really is a very special choir.

This year I was invited to create a vocal arrangement of Alice Gross’s song, Don’t Let It Go Away. The choir and I met six times to rehearse and prepare for the performance at St Martin in the Fields on December 7th at the Missing People Christmas Service. The service was extremely well attended and all the readings were especially poignant. Rosalind Hodgkiss, mother of Alice, who was found murdered in 2014, appeared on Good Morning Britain in December to talk about her daughter and how Missing People supported them in the weeks she was missing. You can watch it here.

The choir performed at a slightly smaller service at York Minster the following week where they sang both Alice’s song and last year’s song, I Miss You, and the message was as strong as it was in London. Heart breaking. You can read more about the song I Miss You and our journey to write and record it here.

If you would like to support the Missing People Charity then please follow the link and purchase the song here

Men of the Missing People Choir in 2015

Missing People Choir ladies 2015

Jim Hawkins Choir Director

More wonderful photos of the choir singing together this November are here. Many thanks to Caroline Jones Photography for her marvellous work.

The Official Video “Don’t Let It Go Away”

Singing Hands – “Christmas Cracker” and Spring Term 3 Music!

Singing Hands with Makaton

Christmas started early in June/July for Suzanne and Tracey from Singing Hands. My job was to record their vocals, arrange the musical accompaniments to meet their clear vision and ideas, mix and produce the albums. I expanded my sound library to incorporate a Didgeridoo, a Jaw Harp, a Thumb Piano and various Foli FX to help create the wonderfully imaginative world of Singing Hands! My 3-year-old son loved this project!

We initially recorded and arranged 28 songs for their 2016 Spring Term repertoire but quickly moved on to their choice of 19 Christmas songs for their latest DVD/CD release. It was great fun…sometimes a bit surreal working with these two charming and talented ladies who are probably the hardest working vocal duo I know! It’s humbling to see the effects of their work and I am inspired by their dedication and commitment to providing the service of happiness through singing and Makaton sign language.

If you haven’t met Singing Hands yet then take a look at the amazing and life-changing work they do with children across the country here:

http://www.singinghands.co.uk or check out their Facebook page for more news.

We start work again in January…I’m excited to know what they have in store for me…but I know it’s in the realm of 60 songs!! Wow!

Backing Alistair Griffin at The Bedford

Gig with Alistair Griffin at The Bedford

In early December I was asked to create four-part vocal arrangements and rehearse 14 singers from Eclipse Choir to support Alistair’s breath-taking renditions of Coldplay’s, Fix You and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, which he performed at the highly acclaimed live music venue, “The Bedford”, in Balham.

It was a beautiful night, Alistair writes such well-crafted and engaging songs, and it was a real pleasure to work with him. There will be more to come sometime in February 2016 so watch this space! You can find Alistair and his music here:

http://www.alistairgriffin.com

The Military Wives Choir and the race to be Christmas No.1!

Military Wives Choir Recording 500 Miles

I had great fun arranging and producing, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) for the Military Wives and Walking with the Wounded Charity! The ladies from the Military Wives’ Choir were an absolute joy to work with and were both a lot of fun but extremely professional and hard working! It was inspiring to work alongside Rachel Smith, the choir director; she was incredible and paid such attention to detail.

The Christmas single, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), reached 47 in the iTunes chart and was performed live on Good Morning Britain by members from the choir during December.

We recorded the choir in a day at Metropolis Studios, which is where Adele had recorded most of her recent album, and I created the final musical arrangement over the following two days. It was mixed and mastered here at Chocolate Box Studios by the astoundingly talented Ash Alexander who can be heard playing guitar on the track. A fantastic effort by all involved and I’m very proud of the outcome.

Walking with the Wounded is a charity that specialises in supporting military veterans who've suffered injury, physical, mental or social.  They help them re-integrate into society by providing training for qualifications and skills, and giving social support. Please take a look at their website here. 

The Military Wives Choir was founded by Gareth Malone five years ago on the BBC television series, The Choir, that then led to their beautiful Christmas Number One single Wherever You Are in 2011. There are now Military Wives Choirs all over the country with the wonderful mission of bringing together the women who support our serving soldiers through singing together. Find out more here.

You can still purchase the single here.

Military Wives Choir I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)

If you watch the video below, you might catch a couple of glimpses of Jim's magic pointer finger at work!

Military Wives Sessions at Metropolis Studio

 

The Official Video

Florence Glen EP – “Spread them eggs”

I had the real pleasure to work with Florence Glen on her four-track EP. My role as producer was to select four songs from her extensive back catalogue and create musical arrangements that would enhance her skillful writing and explore/create the “Florence Glen sound”. She has been played and reviewed on BBC Six Music, Tom Robinson introducing and Fresh On The Net.

The arrangement is well crafted and intriguing.

It has been another great opportunity to invest in top session musicians and mix engineers such as Geoff Gascoyne (Double Bass) and John Park (Drums) and George Shilling (mix engineer and producer) as they bring new life to the songs and help the arrangements blossom.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed working with Flo, she is especially talented and it’s so lovely to be working on songs that I’d personally buy if I heard them on the radio. Her EP is now released and you can purchase a digital or CD copy here.

Great writing and vocals, hugely experienced players and a very astute production. Thumbs up!

Florence Glen At Chocolate Box Studio

 

Flo has a great feature on her Facebook page: every week she posts a recording for New Music Monday. So go and like her page and enjoy some of this talented lady's new tunes:

The Rockabellas’ Debut Album 2015 – “Bring It Back!”

From Pledge Music through to Project Completion

Following their successful Pledge Music campaign last year, I set about producing the debut album for The Rockabellas.

Having been fully invested in the project from the start of the Pledge campaign, my role as producer covered a broad range of musical duties and I took a very hands-on approach. I was there to assist The Rockabellas in generating creative ideas as well as producing the songs and melodies they brought to me.

Buy the Album Here

Buy on iTunes

Buy on Google Play Music

The Rockabellas debut self-penned album, "Bright it Back!"
Album produced by James Hawkins Music

Composition, Arrangement and Production

The Rockabellas are known for having a vintage vibe, and I thoroughly enjoyed writing the string arrangements, brass and other instrumental parts. Then actually recording them with session pals made this album an absolute joy to produce.

The songwriting was a team effort for the first few songs, but then the girls found their stride and went on to complete the album, which is an assortment of sounds centred by The Rockabellas’ trademark close vocal harmonies.

We recorded in various studios, including my private studio in Kingston, The Bunker, and most notably, Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios.

The great George Shilling mixed and mastered the album and I’m extremely happy with the result!

Production values

I’ve selected some favourite moments from The Rockabellas’ album which you can hear below. These are backing tracks so that you can hear the musical arrangements and production layers. If you’d like to hear more of the album it’s on iTunes, or to purchase a CD copy please visit www.therockabellas.com. It’s a great feel good and fun listen so don’t miss out!

 

 

“Fall At Your Feet” String Arrangement

Jim was asked to prepare a string arrangement for “Fall At Your Feet” for a choir recording at Abbey Road Studios.

Here is the MP3 backing track produced for your enjoyment.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have a similar backing track or arrangement request.

“I Miss You”, the Missing People Choir song

Missing People Choir

The story behind the Missing People Choir

The Missing People Choir formed in summer 2014 masterminded by Clare Cook from the Missing People charity and Jim.  Its mission was to bring together the families and loved ones of the missing as a choir, to start something new, to enjoy music and singing together, and thereby raise spirits, share stories, bring encouragement and hope to the group.

Soon afterwards an idea formed that the Missing People Choir should have its own song for their Christmas performance.

Peter Boxell, whose son Lee has been missing since 1988 wrote the lyrics to the song ‘I Miss You’ in tribute to his missing son. Jim, along with professional writer and arranger, Simon Rhodes, wrote the song in the studio here initially to perform at the Missing People Carol Service at St Martin-in-the-Field on December 8th 2014.

The performance

The choir had just six full rehearsals together with Jim before the concert, some of the singers had never sung in a choir before and for the majority, this would be their first ever public performance. Nevertheless they raised their game and got over their nerves to deliver an exceptional and moving performance on the night, which touched the hearts of many people there.

Here’s quite a highlight of my year. I worked with the Missing People Charity to create a choir made up of families who are suffering the loss of a loved one. Many of the members were singing for the first time in their lives and I’m very proud of their achievement. This was a powerful experience and has reached out to a lot of people.
I invite you to support the Missing People Charity by sharing this video with your friends but most importantly, your family.
“where words fail, music speaks”