Black Sheep head to Bournemouth

 Date Posted: Thu, 27 Jun 2024

The flock were happy to be off to pastures new in June, with a visit to Bournemouth Music Festival. Given that it was an early start, most of us stayed in hotels on Friday night, giving us an extra opportunity for socialising and friendship. As our flock continues to grow, there are always ewes for whom a competition or a Black Sheep weekend away are a new experience.

On Saturday, after an energising warm up in our hotel, we car-shared our way to the lovely Christchurch Priory, the venue for the competition. Luckily, it was a lovely day, as we had to continue our warm up in the car park.

However, some of us were a little inattentive to our shepherd, Pete, as they were too busy gazing in awe at the peregrines on the Priory Tower. You know who you are!

We thoroughly enjoyed the lively acoustic in the Priory, especially as our rehearsal venue’s acoustic is very flat. We sang in three classes, getting better and better results and comments from the adjudicator in each one. However, our highlight was singing “And so it goes” with such emotion that we brought our MD to tears. Or was it the number of ice creams we consumed between the classes?

Back to the hotel and we enjoyed a tasty evening meal and a great deal of singing, including to a lovely lady who was celebrating her birthday. Florabel insisted we accept her beautiful birthday cake because she was so thrilled by our singing. We enjoyed the cake for breakfast on Sunday. 

Some sheep had hardly any voice the next day after singing in the bar until the small hours!

The competition was over, but the fun continued for those who stayed on in Bournemouth on Sunday morning. Paddling in the sea, strolling in the park listening to the buskers, singing on the pier. Pretty standard stuff for the sheep.

Until Pete had a bright idea when he spotted the zip wire on the pier. On close inspection, it was much cheaper for 10 people than for one, so some sheep volunteered, while others were cordially encouraged into participating. Climbing up that wobbly tower in a chilly wind was nerve-wracking for some, but the ride down to the beach was fantastic!


Check out the zip wire video here or click photo below:

And many thanks to Anne, for her superb job of organising our weekend, including the hotel accommodation and Saturday evening meal and, of course, making sure we were always where we were supposed to be. It's a lot like herding Sheep 😂.

What will we get up to on our next weekend away?!                                                        Debbie Ait-Kaci

More precious metals for Black Sheep!

 Date Posted: Fri, 31 May 2024
Five members of Black Sheep Harmony, Cat, Chris T, Noey, Nooj and Sue, D along with MD Emeritus, David Proud, took a trip to Harrogate for the special 50th anniversary convention of the British Association of Barbershop Singers, or BABS. It’s a long way to Harrogate, especially during rush hour, but these intrepid sheep made the journey to sing, compete, assist and spectate.

BABS is the largest barbershop organisation outside of America with over 60 registered choruses and 100 quartets across the country, including mixed choruses and quartets.

Cat and Nooj worked hard on the reception desk for the whole weekend, welcoming barbershop friends old and new to this very special convention. Here both of them are seen on reception duties with our travelling mascot Lambert the Sheep!

Nooj performed with his international gold medal winning senior quartet, One Foot in the Stave, where they gave a stunning swan-song performance in the Saturday night show.

The quartet semi-finals took place during the whole of Friday with 43 quartets taking part in the male, youth and senior competitions. Noey was competing in the senior's competition with Mary, Dave and Simon in the mixed quartet Mixed Blessings and they were thrilled to achieve the gold medal position with a score of 72.8.

Cat, Chris, Noey and Sue are also members of the 2022 champion mixed chorus, The Bristol Mix (TBM) is made up of singers from the six Bristol choruses (Avon Harmony, Black Sheep Harmony, Bristol A Cappella, Bristol Fashion, Fascinating Rhythm and Great Western Chorus) as well as other Bristol singers. As gold medallists, The Bristol Mix were not eligible to compete in 2023, when the top spot was won by another Bristol mixed chorus, Bristol A Cappella. The Bristol Mix was formed in 2019 and only meet between four and six times a year yet achieve a very high standard of singing. 

With forty-eight members on the risers, TBM were competing with some relatively new and much larger choruses but the aim was to achieve a score of above 80 for the first time in the club’s history. TBM were so pleased to gain a score of 80.6 and the bronze medal place under the inspirational direction of Linda Corcoran. Lux A Cappella came in silver position and the newly formed Crucible Vocal Project won the gold.

Sue and Noey were also competing with an international silver medal winning mixed chorus called Endeavour made up of singers from across Europe under the direction of Lisa Robathan and Rae Watney. This year, Endeavour achieved fourth place.

Congratulations go to TBM members Will, Dom, Ali and Ollie, for achieving bronze medals in the Youth quartet competition with their quartet In The Wings; Ali for his gold chorus medal with Crucible Vocal Project; Great Western Chorus for their fourth place in the male chorus competition under the direction of their shiny new MD, Craig Kehoe and to Chris M for his swan-song sets with the outgoing male chorus champions Cottontown Chorus.

A great, if exhausting time was had by all!
Back home in Bristol the jubilant singers showed off their medals with pride to the rest of Black Sheep!

Sue Davis


Grace Kelly Video

 Date Posted: Fri, 26 Apr 2024

Here is a short fun video we created recently of Mika's Grace Kelly. Enjoy!

UK Harmony Brigade 2024

 Date Posted: Wed, 6 Mar 2024

Harmony Brigade

Two Sheep, Noey and Sue, have just taken part in the United Kingdom Harmony Brigade, an annual event of Extreme Quartetting. Noey and Sue have spent the last five months learning twelve songs to performance standard in preparation for a weekend of harmony singing with almost 100 other quartet singers. There were around 25 in each voice part and the aim of the weekend is to sing with everyone else in random scratch quartets. 

There was singing in local schools and care homes and a competition where random quartets were drawn and given a random song to compete with (chosen from the 12) and they were judged by a panel of judges after having 20 minutes of practice. The weekend was topped off with a show where the whole brigade was split into two choruses and each sang 5 of the songs to each other.


Demi Choruses 1 and 2

One of the remaining songs was sung on the show by the winning quartet and the other song was sung by another randomly picked scratch quartet (Sue was picked to sing in this quartet - ‘The Tilers’ singing ‘Up On the Roof’). The rest of the show consisted of acts from the brigaders, acts like folk songs, comedy songs, quartets and even the EQ chorus from last years’ Harmony College - of which Noey was a part - singing ‘Keeping the Dream Alive’.


Over the course of the weekend, each time singers sang together, they exchanged names on a ‘dance card’ and those who managed to sing with all the singers in the other three voice parts qualified for a ‘Tramp’ award. Every single singer achieved this - the first brigade ever (including those in the USA) where this has happened. Those singers who learn a song in two voice parts can also sing with those in their own voice part, i.e. every other delegate, and they are given a ‘Supertramp’ award, which 14 singers, including Sue, did.

There are other Harmony Brigades in Europe and USA, and Noey and Sue are going to the Mixed Harmony Brigade of New England in a few weeks time in mid March.

Sue Davis

Success at the Longwell Green and Kingswood Music Festival!

 Date Posted: Sun, 5 Nov 2023

Black Sheep Harmony have rounded off a very successful autumn by winning not one, but TWO cups at the Longwell Green and Kingswood Performing Arts festival.

Following our wonderful retreat at Dunster, many of us were suffering from coughs and colds but luckily most had recovered enough to be able to put on two distinction winning performances. There were some who were still too poorly to join us and we really missed you, but special thanks to Kathy who left her sick-bed to support us by sitting in the audience even though she couldn’t sing.

The Black Sheep looked great in individual black outfits unified by lovely corsages in our new colour palette of blue and green.

Our first performance was in the Barbershop class where we sang two classics, ‘Love of My Life’ by Freddie Mercury followed by Lennon and McCartney’s ‘Blackbird’. The adjudicator really appreciated our “careful, syncopated singing, amazing chording and superb balance”. He was impressed with both our “vibrant full sound” and the “intimacy” of our quiet singing. He particularly enjoyed our “fabulous major 3rds” and mentioned the “great solo”. He also said how lucky we are to have such a talented and visionary MD in Pete Nooj Nugent! We were thrilled to achieve a distinction with a score of 87% and to be the proud winners of the Christopher Jennings Trophy.

Our entries in the second class, the Auditioned Choir, were Guy Garvey’s ‘One Day Like This ‘and Robin Pecknold’s ‘White Winter Hymnal’ arranged by Herman Zimmerman. Two gorgeous songs, both of which have their own particular challenges. 

One Day Like This is a huge song which was originally arranged exclusively for Black Sheep Harmony by Jason Wilson in eight parts, nine if you include the solo, which results in a lush, full sound. The adjudicator was particularly impressed with the “dynamic weighting of the accompaniment”, the “well balanced complex eight-part chords” the “great solo” and the “brilliantly handled tricky harmonic shifts”.

The challenges of White Winter Hymnal are of a more physical sort with choreographed clapping and slapping. A group of five sat at the front of the stage and performed individual hand clapping, thigh slapping, finger clicking routines which come together to create a stunning visual and rhythmic accompaniment to the beautiful chorus singing. Comments were “BRILLIANT”, well-handled parallel harmonies and “wonderful moments of lightness and joy”.

The adjudicator again really appreciated the work that had gone into these two songs and Pete’s excellent direction. He awarded us another distinction with another excellent score of 87% and we held aloft the Robin Tyacke Trophy!

It was a really rewarding evening finished off beautifully with a mini-afterglow at the local. Your author even saw a shooting star whilst on the way home, which seemed like heavenly approval!

Sue Davis

Black Sheep Harmony’s first annual (?!) retreat!

 Date Posted: Wed, 1 Nov 2023

And the second of the autumn 2023 events... the first Black Sheep Harmony retreat in the lovely little town of Dunster. We stayed in the charming Yarn Market Hotel where we were looked after like VIPs with excellent hospitality, very nearly full board and a variety of pretty bedrooms with views of the quaint little village of Dunster. 

We all arrived in groups throughout Friday in time for an aperitif at the Luttrell Arms (where we sang to an appreciative audience in the covered courtyard) before dinner at the hotel and of course, we sang for each other and the staff! The hotel is very experienced in hosting singing (and other) groups for retreat weekends, so our songs were enjoyed, even expected! The evening was rounded off beautifully with a nightcap in the cosy hotel bar.

Saturday dawned, a beautiful late autumn day. Pete Nooj Nugent took on the coaching duties when our original coaches had to drop out due to illness, and we did some really good work in preparation for the upcoming Kingswood and Longwell Green music festival. 

The hotel had a large hall available for our coaching session and even allowed us to arrange our own buffet lunch.

After a late, lazy lunch, we sang in the actual yarn market in the centre of the village, directly outside of the hotel, where an audience of shoppers and tourists cheered us on, enjoying the unexpected entertainment on a sunny Saturday afternoon. 

Later in the afternoon the Sheep explored the village, strolling in the unseasonably warm but gorgeous sunshine to the impressive church, the gardens, the castle and the quaint and quirky little shops and cafes. There may have been a visit to the pub by some, I can’t say either way!

Dinner was again at the hotel and there was a particularly poignant moment when we sang “Anthem” for a couple of the chefs who are refugees from Ukraine.

After dinner we entertained ourselves with a spectacular(!) show which went so smoothly thanks to Andrea Gealer and her excellent organisation. We were treated to a real variety of entertainments and activities. 

I'm so proud of my baritone section, Sophie, Debbie, Caz, Cat and Hannah for throwing themselves into “The Wellerman” and singing through all that facial hair! We sang the sea shanty dressed as mariners (kind of) with lush beards and plenty of props, huge fun well received. The beards were ok after we’d trimmed them to prevent beard inhalation!

The Bog (Bass and Frog) chorus was hilarious and well done to Noey for rewriting “The Frog Chorus” to explain the bass riser experience to the rest of us more wordy sections (bom, bom-bom). It was joy to behold the bass section dressed as they were in cute zippy frog hoodies, very attractive green tights and matching green rubber glove feet. An impressive sight.

We learnt circus and bandaging skills with Debbie Teml. People were invited to learn how to make a balloon dog - not all of the creations were completely canine - one was suspiciously saucy but what happened in Dunster stays in Dunster. A group of us had broken arms so needed triangular bandages applied, not always successfully! Finally, we had a lesson in plate spinning which was much harder than Debbie made it look. Medals were even handed out to the “winners”.

We had a lesson in anatomy with Kathy (what a performer you are, Kathy... brilliant!!).singing Cole Porter's The Physician, a comedy song originally performed by Gertrude Lawrence in the musical "Nymph Errant". 

There was a spot of family history with Sandra who entertained us with a song that she used to sing at family parties when she was younger. Even after the passage of a number of years, Sandra still remembered the words to “Grandad's Flannelette Nightshirt” by George Formby from his 1940 film “Let George Do It”. His recording of it was released in 1941, but I reckon Sandra’s was more entertaining!

We also had songs from the shows from Debbie Cottrell and Sally Ball, who gave us a lovely performance of the duet “I Know Him So Well” from Chess, complete with hairbrush mics.

There was also a bit of unexpected devilment from Jo Slateford which I’m not going to go into, but you know what I mean, Jo!

The interpretive mime from Pete was particularly impressive, and very entertaining. Pete’s enactment of the lyrics to Natalia Imbruglia’s “Torn” was incredible and the results were hilarious and occasionally slightly naughty but always conveyed with commitment. 
SongSmiths opened and closed the show with “For Me and My Gal” and “Feeling Good” respectively. 
The evening finished with various excellent scratch quartets and octets singing chorus repertoire songs. It was such a great evening! 

It was very sad that due to sore throats and colds, Kate and Hannah weren’t able to perform and others struggled, but there will be more opportunities!

On Sunday we collected the packed lunches provided by the hotel and drove to Bishops Lydeard station for a lovely steam train journey on the West Somerset Railway. We had a little wander around Minehead; ice creams and a promenade  along the front in the sunshine were the order of the day. No surprise that we sang in the train and on each platform we walked on - every platform was a stage! There was even an extra platform to sing on as we had to stop along the way due to a breakdown, but this just added to the fun as we had more singing and photo opportunities alongside the steam engine. The quiz on the train organised by Debbie T was excellent fun and we learnt something about everyone when we all shared a secret.

It was so nice to spend time with the flock and we missed those who couldn't make it, but I'm sure it will happen again! 

The biggest thank you must go to Anne Carvallo for her incredible organisation and sheep-herding, the whole weekend went without a hitch due to her attention to detail.

It was an excellent weekend, full of fun, friendship, sunshine and singing!

Sue Davis

Harmony Gold - what a success!

 Date Posted: Mon, 30 Oct 2023

On Friday 29 September 2023, Black Sheep Harmony were proud to present their first post-covid concert Harmony Gold, with a fab-ewe-lous line-up of guests at Ashton Park School in Bristol.

Thames Valley Chorus, one of the UK's top male-voice close-harmony singing groups, were able to join us as part of their tour in the southwest. Consistently in BABS top ten barbershop choruses, they performed an exciting mix of stunning harmonies, including  a beautiful rendition of Bring him home from Les Misérables and a pair of Queen hits Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Somebody to love, which were right up our street, as we have several Queen songs in our repertoire. Thames Valley Chorus BABS 2023

Also on the bill were three quartets. One Foot in the Stave, 2022's International Quartet gold medal winners and are still the only British quartet ever to win an International. With an impressive 15 gold medals between them, it was an especial treat for the Sheep to hear OFITS sing as our musical director Pete Nugent is their baritone.  We’re so lucky to benefit from all his experience and knowledge of the craft of close harmony singing. Their performance did not disappoint, above all their unforgettable rendition of All Shook Up! One Foot in the Stave Too Marvelous for Words

We were starstruck by our next quartet, Trailblazers. They are officially the best male barbershop quartet in the UK, winning the gold medal at the BABS National Quartet Contest this year and also represented BABS at Barbershop Harmony Society’s International Convention in Louisville, Kentucky in July 2023. All have strong links with Bristol, having begun their barbershop careers in our city.
Theiir two sets showcased a wide range of songs and styles, delivered with emotion and pzazz. Particularly memorable were I found a New Baby and Bring Me Sunshine. How do they fill a hall with such a fabulous sound using just their four voices, we asked ourselves? Trailblazers BABS quartet final 2023

The third quartet were our own in-house SongSmiths - these special ladies were all born with, or married into, the surname of Smith. They have been singing together as a quartet for 10 years which is fairly long lived for a quartet! The SongSmiths have also competed nationally, having reached LABBS Quartet Semi-finals four times. More than that, though, they are just good friends. They treated us to When She Loved Me, an emotional ballad from Toy Story, and then Sing, Sing, Sing, which both showcased their voices and performance skills so well. The SongSmiths LABBS 2022

As for Black Sheep, we had the pleasure of singing several of our new songs: Sting’s Every Breath you Take, Ed Sheeran’s ballad Perfect and Queen’s Love of my Life. Our second set opened with White Winter Hymnal, complete with choreographed clapping and clicking from the front row. It’s quite a feat to sing at the same time! We also reprised our LABBS 2022 hit, Victoria Wood’s The Ballad of Barry and Freda, but without all the props and setting fire to things this time. LABBS 2022 Black Sheep Harmony

The finale allowed us to sing all together, along with our guests, one of Thames Valley Chorus songs, Misty.

So, thanks to all our guests and to the audience who applauded and whooped, bought drinks, snacks and raffle prizes and generally had a good night out! And a massive thanks to all of our sheep who, with much planning and quite a bit of fretting, made such a success of the evening.

Please do join us for our next concert on Thursday 14 December 2023 at St Barnabas Church in Warmley for our Christmas celebration.

Debbie Ait-Kaci

Our very first Black Sheep Quartet evening!

 Date Posted: Fri, 30 Jun 2023
Recently we held our inaugural quartet evening, a chance for our members to get together to sing in either a quartet or octet. The evening was organised in the main by Hanna with her sidekick Andrea, plus some input from our MD Pete and also help from his partner Ali (in another chorus that we won't mention!). 

Hanna sent out lots in information in advance and we were able to choose the songs we would like to sing out of a selection of 5, plus whether we would prefer singing in a quartet or octet (where there's safety in numbers!). We were then told which quartet we would be part of plus the song for that quartet. Not everyone chose to take part but everyone was encouraged to come along to support.

Although there was no time to rehearse in advance of the day, we would all have a chance to run through our chosen piece just before we performed it to the rest of the chorus.

Initially it was thought that Pete would be able to give a small amount of tuition to each quartet/octet after they had performed but as there was such a good response to the number of people wanting to take part, this went out of the window on the day when it became apparent we would run out of time.

We started the evening with a warm-up, a chance to get the voices warmed up. And Pete asked us to show our appreciation for each act in the normal way, with lots of encouragement before each song and giving a standing ovation at the end.

Then it was time for the evening proper to commence and our nerves to kick in. 

First up: 
"Anthem" sung by "Chess Club", Ann OC, Kathy, Nicky & Caz

Our second quartet named themselves "Intimidation"! Kate S, Hanna, Cat & Pete sang "And So It Goes"

Cher, Sandra, Helen & Caz sang "Heart of my Heart" in their quartet named "Quintastic" with a little help from Debbie C alongside new tenor Cher.

Our first octet of the evening, "Awesome 8" comprised Ann OC, Debbie T, Fidge, Lyn R, Pam, Rhona, Debbie AK & Cat and they sang "Anthem"

During a short refreshment break Noey & Sue led everyone in a singsong of our favourite songs.

Then the "Unforgetables", namely Debbie AK, Noey, Sandra, & Debbie C sang "Blackbird"

Our next quartet "The Cadbury Chords" comprised Sally, Debbie T, Lin C &  Sue D singing "And So It Goes"

"And So It Goes" was also the choice for the next quartet, "The Four-Tunes" with Anne C, Joanna, Rhona & Debbie AK

The final quartet before another refreshment break was "Hell or High Water" as Sally, Kathy, Helen & Sophie Smith sang "And So It Goes"

Another octet "Seven Songbirds & Pete" Anne C, Andrea, Jo S, Kate G, Pete, Nicky, Sophie Smith & Caz sang "Blackbird"

"Just 4 Ewe" was the name chosen by Debbie C, Sally, Noey & Hanna for the penultimate act of the night, singing "Happy Together"

And "Out with a Bang" finished off the evening with Andrea, Noelle, Nicky & Sue D singing "Anthem".

It was agreed we had a fun night enjoyed by all and we give a massive thanks to Hanna and Andrea for the organisation. Here's to the next one!

Kathy Farrell

Black Sheep "Sing for the King"!

 Date Posted: Fri, 26 May 2023

On the early May Bank Holiday Monday, as part of the celebrations for the coronation of King Charles III, a micro-flock of Sheep took part in a massed sing of Handel’s Zadok the Priest in Bristol’s beautiful cathedral. The event was part of St. George’s Festival of Voice.

    Some of the flock raring to go!

The coronation coincided with Bristol’s 650th birthday and the aim was to recruit at least 650 singers to sing the breathtaking Zadok the Priest, accompanied by the City of Bristol Brass Band and conducted by Ben England, following an introduction by Mrs Peaches Golding, His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Bristol and Samir Savant, CEO at St George’s, Bristol, who orchestrated the event. 

Bristol has more singing groups than any other English city and the hopes of recruiting 650 singers was most decidedly exceeded with almost 1000 taking part, it was literally standing room only!

    Rehearsals underway

First we gathered in our masses for a rehearsal split into our various parts, running through the anthem with the brass band and taking final instructions from our MD. Ben is the very popular director of the online choir HomeChoir and we had already taken part in online rehearsals with him for our individual parts.

    Sue, Debbie & Sally taking a well earned break but the floor is hard!

We had a break for an hour, and had the chance to listen to some music from the band, including a rousing version of Jerusalem where all the choirs joined in. Spine tingling and a forerunner of the real event!

   Ben conducting the Bristol Brass Band in "Jerusalem"

And then the audience was allowed to enter the cathedral. We were now literally packed to the gunnells and ready for the off!

We performed our piece twice, once at the beginning after speeches and once at the end. After the build of the brass band's lengthy overture, I'm sure every singer felt goosebumps as the magnificent sound of the thousand voices sang the first "Zadok the Priest"!
As well as two performances of Zadok, there were also performances of a special anthem “The Mountains Shall Bring Peace” written for the King by Joanna Forbes Strange sung by Fitzhardinge Consort and of Handel’s three other coronation anthems - Let Thy Hand be Strengthened, The King Shall Rejoice and My Heart is Inditing conducted by Peter Wagstaff and John Davenport, and sung by Amos Vocale, Thornbury Choral  Fitzhardinge Consort and members of the Cathedral Choir, accompanied by Mark Lee and Paul Walton.

We were particularly pleased that so many Sheep were able to join in, including four of our very newest flock, basses Helen and Natasha, tenor Heather and lead Andrea (who we lost in the crowd after the performance, sorry Andrea).

And even managed our own personal afterglow where we had all four parts so were able to sing a couple of songs in The Green House - well done Helen and Natasha who joined us there.

The whole event was live streamed on YouTube as well as being recorded, The recording will be sent to the King in honour of his coronation with the best wishes of the City of Bristol.

Sue Davis & Kathy Farrell

The Big Bristol Barbershop Bonanza - November 2022

 Date Posted: Sun, 5 Feb 2023

In the UK, and particularly in Bristol, there is a rich and varied tradition of group singing. Bristol has one of the highest number of singing groups in the UK, and certainly is the city with the most Barbershop choruses.

As well as Black Sheep Harmony, there are three other ladies choruses (Avon Harmony, Bristol Fashion and Fascinating Rhythm) based in Bristol- no other UK town or city is lucky enough to have that many! There is also the multi-award winning men’s chorus, Great Western Chorus, as well as a mixed group with roots in barbershop, Bristol A Cappella. Finally, there is a group which was originally drawn from members of these six choruses with the aim of celebrating Bristol Barbershop and a-cappella together, the current mixed gold medal chorus, The Bristol Mix.

All of these groups recently performed in one fabulous joint concert snappily titled The Big Bristol Barbershop Bonanza. Each group sang a few songs (in our case Roar, Blackbird and our much loved ABBA medley), then the concert culminated in a massed chorus with all of the groups taking to the stage together, resulting in a chorus of over 170 members singing Toto’s Africa.  A fab-ewe-lous sound!

Not only was this an amazing celebration of Bristol Barbershop, but raised around £1,600 for local charities nominated by the choruses. Black Sheep chose to donate our contribution to St Peter’s Hospice in memory of our beautiful and much missed baritone, Pat Nowell.

You can hear a recording of the entire concert (with commentary by Harmony UK Podcast) on Soundhound HERE

Sue Davis   

Check out more photos in our photo gallery HERE

Sing-Appella Workshop January 2023

 Date Posted: Sun, 5 Feb 2023

After meticulous planning, it was finally D-Day for our first event of 2023, and first learn-to-sing since COVID, our singing workshop: "Sing-Appella".

Hosted at John Cabot Academy which was a great venue for all our requirements, registration began early as even the delegates were excited to start the day. 17 delegates were all welcomed by our meeters & greeters, taking them through to the spacious hall, showing them the venue and introducing them to the chorus. There was just enough time to grab a tea from our refreshment area before beginning the day. 

The day began with the chorus performing Abba Medley to the delegates. A great up beat, feel good song to warm everyone up and get the energy buzzing. After the mandatory emergency procedures we enjoyed a great warmup (both physical and singing) from Noey and Sue.

Pete took the delegates through a vocal check and put each person with either the Leads, Tenors, Baritones or Basses. He then talked us through the 1st of 5 singing skills: posture, working on stance and head alignment so that when breathing from the diaphragm, the air flows up the wind pipe like a chimney.

Our first section breakouts followed as the delegates began learning the first quarter of our song for the day, Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. We came back together to sing the section we learnt. Then it was time for our first tea and coffee break and of course home made cakes made by our wonderful Black Sheep. 

We came back together to work on the 2nd singing skill, breathing. Pete talked through how posture impacts breath intake and expanding the rib cage. Taking these notes we took this learning and split into our sections again to learn the next quarter of the song. 

Before lunch we came back together again to sing the first half of the song. Pete taking a couple of sections through some difficult bars. We were all amazed at how well the delegates were coping with a tricky song and the sound being produced.

Now time for lunch! We all rendezvoused to the refreshment area (staff room) where there was a lot of chatting and laughter, getting to know our visitors, as well as enjoying some more cake. 

Coming back together in the hall the chorus gave a performance of Blackbird and then we began session 3, working on vocal production and resonance. Pete talked the delegates through mouth shaping to creat a full, rich sound. We split again to learn quarter 3 of Bohemian Rhapsody, returning to the hall to sing through what we had learnt so far. A more tricky section to learn but the delegates sounded really good. After slowly working on a few bars to align the sound we took a tea break.

After our mid afternoon break, Pete explored vowel and consonants skills. These help to carry the sound and convey meaning. Pete also discussed vowel matching which is so key for barbershop singing. He also mentioned skill 5, which helps to pull the other skills into line. To find out what this is, you'll have to book onto our next learn-to-sing event!

The final section rehearsal came and went so quickly. Finishing up on learning the final quarter and singing all the way through the song. Considering how intense day had been, the delegates were in great spirits and enjoying the learning process. 

We came back together for one last time. Pete took us all through the whole song, working on vowel matching in certain areas and then placing the chorus into a stack ready for the performance. 

With friends and family of the delegates in attendance we began the performance. The Songsmiths started us off, singing beautifully as always. Pete then discussed "What is Barbershop" where the Songsmiths and Black Sheep sang through Heart of my Heart.

Now, performance time for the delegates! We all took to the floor and Pete started us off singing Bohemian Rhapsody. The sound was great and the delegates put all they learnt into practice. When it finished, we were given a rapturous applause. The delegates then took their seats and Black Sheep gave a performance of some other songs. After another chance for everyone to sing Bohemian Rhapsody, each delegate was presented with a certificate. 

The delegates did amazingly well with a difficult song and with so much enthusiasm for singing. "God I'm Good" - in joke! An enjoyable day was had by all, filled with song and laughter. A huge thanks to Pete for his fantastic input into the day, and to all the other Sheep who played an instrumental part in organising the day. You are all fab-ewe-lous`!
Kate Swinscoe
More photos (screenshots from the video) can be found in our Photo Gallery HERE
YouTube Video URL:

Black Sheep Harmony attend LABBS Conference, Bournemouth, October 2022

 Date Posted: Wed, 21 Dec 2022

In October the whole chorus de-camped to Bournemouth for an exciting weekend away. The LABBS convention, usually held every year, was back for the first time in three years, postponed previously due to Covid. 

Pre-conference, we had spent a huge amount of time, not only with singing rehearsals but also drama! Our first real experience of "performing" a song with movement. Or actually two songs! We even enrolled the services of a professional acting coach in Kirsty Williams, spending a complete day with her working on the first of our two songs, "The Ballad of Barry & Freda" (aka Let's Do It!) written and performed by Victoria Wood in her heyday. In this case we performed to an arrangement by our own MD Pete "Nooj" Nugent. Some verses were removed for their implicit content but it was still rather "naughty"!

Sandra took the role of Freda with Nooj playing Barry. And they both threw themselves into the role, maybe Sandra a bit more literally than Pete 😉.

Our other song, "Sway" - the Dean Martin version, was choreographed by Kathy & Debbie, and many hours were spent perfecting the salsa moves with the front row. 
Dress rehearsal
Not only were the rehearsals intense, we also made all our new dresses.

Originally a dress maker was commissioned but unfortunately she couldn't find the time to complete our dresses by the October deadline so it was all hands to the deck. 

The two colour look was designed to denote Barry as boring and black and Freda as saucy in cream.

The wardrobe team and others worked tirelessly to get the look right and the dresses finished in time. Phew!

And we had a dress rehearsal for our family and friends to try out the new look.

Finally we are ready to go!

Performance day dawned and an early start for some who chose to travel down on the day, we then headed to a different venue for our practice session. We had some great fun with Pete's warm up session before heading down to the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) for the rest of the day.  

It is always interesting to watch the other choruses perform and we were fortunate to be able to see some of the top choruses, Amersham Acappella & White Rosettes amongst others. But soon it was time for our turn in the dressing room and off we went!

Into our new dresses, with our red shoes and earrings, make-up on, hair arranged, and we're ready! 

Dressing room - leads

Onto the stage to the usual whoops, and no sooner than our first number started, we heard laughter from the audience, and this continued all through "Barry & Freda" with a massive ovation at the end of both this song and our set. Sandra and Pete were fantastic, backed up by all the chorus moves behind. We went down a storm!

To view the full range of photos from our performance, head to our Photos page under "News & Events"

And check out the performance video below or on Youtube HERE

Ok, maybe the singing could have been a bit better - as novices at "performance" we need to get to grips with both this aspect and the singing at the same time! But the concensus throughout the audience was that we were the most entertaining performance of the day.  And that's not to be sneezed at.. Shame there wasn't an entertainment award - apparently being discussed for future years, typical! 

Although we weren't being judged along with all the other choruses, we did still have feedback and scores from the judges on the varying aspects of our performance. And our score was higher than Pete had hoped, despite a deduction for Barry & Freda due to various barbershop requirements for songs, which apparently we broke. 

The rest of the day we partied! First in the bar (well, maybe some people were there for a long time!). And then eventually after watching some of the various other activities in BIC and partaking in the Polecat singing, many of us migrated back to the hotel where some more singing took place. And fluid refreshment. Of course!

Everyone was rather bleary eyed in the morning, but we enjoyed the quartet competition plus a set from the gold medal winning Bristol Mix (mixed voices chorus) who included some of our own Sheep, and then headed for home. Well, most people anyway: Noey got roped into a mixed quartet at the last minute as one member was ill. And they did extremely well with half an hour's practice!

Back home and time to reflect on our performance. We won't be going to LABBS in 2023 but watch out for us again. We promise you some fun!

Kathy Farrell

YouTube Video URL:

Goodbye, Pat

 Date Posted: Sat, 2 Jul 2022

Black Sheep Harmony are so sorry to have to say goodbye to our lovely baritone, Pat Nowell, who sadly passed away earlier this week.


Pat has been a key member of the chorus since she joined us in 2015 after she heard us singing our Christmas repertoire in a supermarket foyer in Yate. She was so moved by the songs and the harmonies that she got in touch to see if she could audition. She passed and, happily for us, became a member of the baritone section and sang with us at many subsequent Christmas events, helping to raise money for local charities. She even looked gorgeous in a Christmas pudding hat.

In 2019 she sang with us on Christmas Day to fulfil a bucket list wish for a local cancer patient.

At the Black Sheep’s 3rd Birthday party, Pat joined in the fun with disguises.

In her youth, Pat worked as a Chanel rep and this had stayed with her as she always looked so youthful and beautiful with her flawless makeup and stylish clothes. She was never seen looking less than perfect.

Pat was so enthusiastic about her singing, but also great fun to be with, always happy to join in with singouts and afterglows. Events ranged from singing in the Radio Bristol Christmas Celebration to Making Music day’s singout at Bitton railway, plus many others.

Pat came to convention with the Sheep in October 2017 where she helped us win the best Novice Chorus Award. In the dressing room before we sang, her make-up knowledge was invaluable as she helped members to "look their best".

In 2018, we held a vintage fair where everyone came along in vintage clothing, Pat stole the show and won the prize for best costume.

When COVID struck, Pat was always involved in our Zoom rehearsals and parties, overcoming the technical difficulties and helping to keep the flock together in those difficult times.

During lockdown, Black Sheep still found ways to perform. Here is a photo of Pat looking glamorous in our “That Man” video:

Pat took part when we used our cars for “Carmony” during the Summer of 2021 when we couldn't sing indoors.

Pat loved her singing and also sang in another choir called Nomine, which although no longer in existence, raised thousands of ££s for Children’s Hospice South West, as well as other smaller singing groups.

We send our deepest condolences to Pat’s family who were supporting her throughout her illness and were with her in her final days, surrounding her with love. We will miss you so much Pat, but you can now be at peace as you are reunited with your beloved husband, Alan, who you missed so deeply.

Rest in peace, Pat

Sue Davis

Medal Haul for Black Sheep Members

 Date Posted: Fri, 13 May 2022



After months of hard work with various mixed choruses, one life- and two current members of Black Sheep Harmony have recently picked up a hat-trick of medals each.

At the end of April, the national mixed chorus competition was held at the British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS) convention in Harrogate. Our chairman Noey, our MD Emeritus David and our Assistant MD Sue were competing in two mixed choruses, Endeavour and Bristol Mix. Both of these choruses have their own stories.


Endeavour is an audition chorus with it’s roots firmly in the (relatively new in the UK) tradition of Harmony Brigade. Under the direction of Lisa Robathan and Rae Watney, Endeavourers range from all over Europe and meet about 6 times a year for intensive weekend rehearsals with a social dinner thrown in for fun (and singing Brigade songs!!). Noey, David and Sue have sung with Endeavour almost since its inception in 2018 and were absolutely thrilled to achieve silver medal place at BABS, with a score of 75.7%.


The Bristol Mix is also an audition chorus with the original aim of bringing together singers from the six Barbershop choruses in Bristol. Headed by Linda Corcoran and Craig Kehoe, TBM were formed in 2019 and aimed to meet bi-monthly but after only a couple of rehearsals, the dreaded COVID struck. Like all choruses, TBM stuck together virtually until able to meet physically and have managed just five rehearsals since then. Despite all that, Noey, David and Sue were absolutely delighted to collect GOLD medals with TBM in the chorus’s first ever singout (which happened to be on the convention stage!) with an excellent score of 78.8%.


Then, the following weekend came the European Barbershop Championships 2021+1 held in Helsingborg, Sweden. EQ Rendezvous, one of the first mixed choruses formed in the UK, went on tour to Sweden as the 2017 IABS (Irish Association of Barbershop Singers) champions. Under the direction of Dick and Delyth Knight, EQR is made up solely of people from all over Europe who have taken part in either the Extreme Quartet stream of Harmony College or Harmony Brigades. Singing in an extreme quartet IS the audition for this chorus, and it has been in existence almost as long as mixed Barbershop has. The trio of Black Sheep were again delighted to pick up a medal with EQR, bronze this time with a score of 74.8%.

What an exciting couple of weekends - three medals apiece in a space of six days!!

Mid-Somerset Festival Fun!

 Date Posted: Mon, 14 Mar 2022
Saturday 12th March - an auspicious date for Black Sheep!
We've finally been let loose into the world for our first competition since the start of Covid
- the Mid-Somerset Festival in Bath. And the first competition since Pete Nugent joined us as MD!

Nerve wracking of course, as always, we met up in the YMCA early in the morning to warm up and have a last minute practice. We'd already had a dress run at our usual rehearsal on Thursday, dressing up in our own black outfits with red corsages. 

Then it was off to St Swithin's Church at the top of Walcott Street for our first class - the Popular or Show Song Class. We were singing "Anthem" from Chess (very appropriate in the current world situation) and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".

As this was the first festival since Covid struck, the classes were small, only 5 entrants in this class, however we were deemed one of the top 3 choirs to compete. We were praised by the day's experienced adjudicator, Rob Elliot, for our mix of voices (unaccompanied of course, unlike all the other choirs) especially the broad bass section, and our timing. So we didn't win the class but we did achieve a Distinction, with a score of 87-89/100. An amazing achievement after the uncertainty of the last two years with all those Zoom rehearsals!

A quick break for lunch and back we are again competing in the Female Voice choirs class, this time singing our latest song, Billy Joel's "And So It Goes" plus our ABBA medley. And another Distinction achieved! The comment from the adjudicator for "And So It Goes" was very complimentary: "Lovely blend, and a warm tone produced a very attractive rendition of this great song". Plus for the ABBA medley he said "A very demanding opening, achieved with ease. You have to be focused to pull this off- and you did!" 

Distinction in both classes we entered, we couldn't have asked for more - well, apart from winning the classes, of course! 😉


A huge thank ewe to Pete for leading us up to and through the whole day. Despite our nerves he managed to keep us focused on the task and singing at our best. 

And not forgetting all the Sheep who have joined us in the last year and who were competing with us for the first time. Well done all of you!

After the competitions it was time to let our hair down and we certainly did!  Great fun had in Browns with the drinks flowing and singing of course, with people asking us to sing Happy Birthday to their friends and loved ones, we were all in our element. Thanks to Melanie for gathering in the birthday requests, that must be where you were when the photos were being taken!

Kathy Farrell



 Date Posted: Fri, 4 Feb 2022
Our fab-ewe-lous MD Pete Nugent arrived back at rehearsal last night for the first time since Christmas, and he didn't come alone.

We were so proud to see him sporting a wonderful gold medal around his neck, won at the World 2022 International Seniors Quartet Contest, at the Barbershop Harmony Society’s Midwinter Convention in Pasadena.

His quartet, One Foot in the Stave, performed brilliantly to not only win the Seniors competition, but also attain the highest score of everyone competing at the Convention. What an achievement! With the win, One Foot In The Stave also becomes the first quartet from outside North America to win the seniors championship in the event’s 36-year history!

One Foot in the Stave
One Foot in the Stave: Rod Butcher, tenor; Brian Schofield, lead; Andy Funnell, bass; Pete Nugent, baritone
Their return was not all plain sailing as not only did Pete and the other members of the quartet arrive home with their precious metal, they also brought back the dreaded lurgy, Covid!! Hopefully they have all now recovered sufficiently to return to singing, and in Pete's case rehearsal, as he did last night. Boy, were we pleased to have him back in the flock!

Check out the video of One Foot in the Stave winning the gold medal and an enormous trophy (how did they get that on the plane home?!) and their encore performance:
YouTube Video URL:

Black Sheep Harmony sing "Queen"!

 Date Posted: Sat, 6 Nov 2021
With the LABBS Convention yet again cancelled for 2021, we were tasked with creating a new video for the LABBS Showcase held in place of convention at the end of October.
Our latest venture, a medley of Queen songs, seemed the most appropriate and in September we held a recording day when groups of up to 12 members came together in recording studio style to record the medley and also some other songs to be used for a future project. Pete had a very long day starting early one Sunday morning, setting up the mixing desk system and microphones, not finishing until the evening after the 3 recording sessions and then clearing the equipment. What a wonder he is!


While sound editing continued, I started work on the video recording. We tried to involve as many members as possible with some different scenarios for the varied songs in the medley. "Bicycle" was one track so, with 13 members on bikes taking part both in the park and in their gardens, we had some great footage, even using a drone to get shots from the air.

"Another One Bites the Dust" was also great fun, as members scouted around our rehearsal venue pursuing Sue (as Steve) with Nerf guns, provided by Sally's son - thank you, Joshua!

Some other special effects, with an idea put forward by Cat, involved members flying through the sky and was hilarious to set up on the stage in our hall. And Chris played her part well as Lady Godiva with her sports car! Green screen technology can be a godsend but tricky to execute properly especially when it's windy!


Debbie and I dressed up as Freddie Mercury and Brian May, and we also recreated the iconic Bohemian Rhapsody, albeit in daylight with no uplit effect.


We also thank Amersham A Cappella who kindly provided a photo of the Somerset Rose Bowl for us to use, tongue in cheek, for "We are the Champions"!


Eventually, after the mammoth edit, I was able to add in our finished sound track which has an amazing blend of our individual voices, thanks to Pete's magic!

We hope you enjoy the finished video which represents the individuality of our members and the fun we have together.

Kathy Farrell
YouTube Video URL:

Black Sheep gain International Success!

 Date Posted: Sat, 24 Jul 2021

Recently, two of our members, Noey and Sue, took part in two Mixed Virtual Harmony Brigades
In normal times, during a Harmony Brigade, a group of Barbershoppers from far and wide get together to sing. However, it’s not as straightforward as just singing songs! Before the events, the participants are usually given three or four months to learn twelve songs in their chosen voice-part to performance standard.
There are two main aspects of a Harmony Brigade. The first is to sing one of the twelve songs in quartet with every other participant. If you sing with all the people in the other three voice-parts, marking them off on your “dance card” as you do so, you win a “Tramp” award. If you can learn a song in a second voice-part, you can also sing in quartet with those singing your own voice-part and achieve “Supertramp” status!
The second (and almost as important as the first) part is the competition. There is a draw where participants are randomly assigned three other quartet members and a song from the twelve. Everyone is given around ten minutes to come up with a quartet name and rehearse the song, probably for the first time in that particular quartet configuration. This is called Extreme Quartetting!! Following the short rehearsal, each extreme quartet then performs in front of everyone else and a judging panel. Fun but nerve-wracking!!
To qualify for participation, singers have to demonstrate their competence in each of three songs randomly chosen from the twelve. You can have five attempts, but if you don’t eventually pass, you can’t enter the draw for the competition or perform in the show.
The winning quartet gets to sing on the evening show, but everyone has a chance to perform in the Brigade Chorus along with guest acts, some of which will have been auditioned from members of the Brigade.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Harmony Brigades have been very different, being forced online like so many other activities. Different formats have been used in the recent Brigades, but the rehearsals have all been the same, singing together in (almost) real time using Jamulus. This has been one of the joys of the brigades.
On the weekend of the 9th July, Noey and Sue attended the European Virtual Harmony Brigade, which would have been in Germany. Around 50 singers from America and Europe learnt six songs and the whole event actually took place live on Jamulus and Zoom over a weekend. The evening show was broadcast live on YouTube by WorldJam productions, and the weekend was huge fun. It was as near to the real Brigade experience as possible without leaving your home. “Like a real Brigade, but without the hugs!”
The following weekend it was the Mixed Virtual Harmony Brigade of New England, which would have been held in the USA, and also included singers from all over America and Europe. 
We again learnt six songs in our chosen voice part, practising them during Jamulus run-throughs in the couple of months leading up to the event, then sent in recordings made at home of ourselves singing each of the songs. 
A week before the event, we were randomly assigned our quartets and a song picked from the six. Our previously recorded audio tracks were then mixed into competition quartet entries and the members of each quartet got together to agree a name and create a video for entry into the Harmony Brigade competition. 
During the competition, the resulting videos were shown to the other Brigaders who judged each other’s performances. The members of Sue’s quartet - "Dear John" - were thrilled to be judged in bronze medal position, 3rd out of 16 quartets, singing “Angel Eyes” by Earl K Brent, music by Matt Dennis, arr. Hal Maples. 
Here is a link to the video of Dear John’s third placed competition entry:
The evening show featured various acts including Black Sheep Harmony’s in-house quartet, The SongSmiths, singing Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” arranged by Joey Minshall. The audio track was mixed by our very own Pete Nugent and the video created by Noey McElwee.
Here is a link to the SongSmiths’ video:

Earlier in the year, in February, Noey and Sue also took part in the UK Virtual Harmony Brigade, normally held in Nottingham. This Brigade was in the same format as the MVHBNE, using pre-recorded voice-parts mixed to make virtual quartets.

This time it was Noey’s quartet, “The Bristol Variant“, that was voted into second place by the other participants.


They were singing “Fly Me to the Moon” by Bart Howard, arr. Roger Payne:

All three events were great fun, but hopefully, the next one will be the real thing!
Sue Davis

Black Sheep Penned In

 Date Posted: Fri, 5 Mar 2021
Black Sheep Penned In.


Since March 2020, Zoom has become our greatest weapon against Covid! The pandemic has been especially challenging for Black Sheep Harmony as the initial lockdown coincided with our new MD, Pete “Nooj” Nugent’s debut. He has yet to lead a physical rehearsal.  He’s done an amazing job, keeping us together and learning so thank you Pete.  Our rehearsals are important to our members, and we’ve continued them throughout. Although unable to sing together as before, we can still warm up and sing along to our repertoire whilst muted (and we always sing beautifully!). 
But at present, the social aspect of our meetings takes priority. We include items such as desert island discs; quizzes; show and tell, and our latest – “Who are Ewe” (we love a Sheep pun!) - we share something that nobody else knows! These items and the ability to chat together have been crucial, helping us feel connected and supported during this difficult year.  We’ve even been able to continue recruitment, a real achievement in such challenging times.
We are especially proud of Zoom Into Christmas, our 5 week online course for women of all singing abilities in Nov and Dec 2020 which had 3 main aims –
- Teach two Christmas songs in four-part harmony to both the chorus and the course delegates and produce a Christmas Choir video;
- Help attendees improve or even find their singing voice with a range of vocal techniques which they could take away;
- Spread the joy of singing and encourage people to take it up.
The final week was a celebration of achievement with certificates being awarded. We had 80 registrants and many of the local ladies enjoyed it enough to return! We are delighted to have welcomed 7 auditionees directly as a result of the course, to add to the other 4 who have joined us during lockdown.
To see our Christmas Choir singing Little Saint Nick, click on this link

Black Sheep do Desert Island Discs

 Date Posted: Thu, 29 Oct 2020

Desert Island Discs

During our Zoom meetings, I suggested that we have a  Desert Island Discs item.  As it was my idea, of course I went first!  My choice was Climb Every Mountain from Sound of Music.  Not only is it an inspirational song, it reminded me of the time that my grandmother to took me to see it when my brother was born (he's now 51).  Plus I was named after Julie Andrews .... Just wish I had her voice!

Luckily other choir members contributed, (too many to mention here), but it was great to hear music which inspired and influenced people.  Some were happy, others sad, but of equal importance in our lives.

I had three favourites. They were from Sandra, Pat and Debbie C.

Sandra’s song was 'Twist and Shout'.  Back in the 60s, she saw the Beatles in concert at Weston Super Mare, spent 2 days outside their hotel and even sneaked into their bedroom when no-one was watching (don’t try this yourself!).  She ‘pinched’ a card from a pack of new Y-fronts in the wardrobe and even returned the following day to get the fab four to autograph the card.  Sandra has that precious pants insert to this day.

Pat chose "That'll be the day" which was playing at her local youth club when Alan, (her husband to be), asked her for a dance.  We saw photos of the young Pat and Alan, they made a very handsome couple.  This song evokes wonderful memories for her, but sad ones too as it was also played at his funeral.

Finally, Debbie C selected Hi Ho Silver Lining by Jeff Beck.  This reminded her of the time she was a teenager and went caravanning with her parents at Caravan Club rallies.  In her words, she was bored and joined the youth club/disco which became much more over the years.  She developed lasting friendships and went on many holidays with the club.  In Debbie's words "It stopped her from being an unruly youth".  Who'da thought it!

Julie Burley.

Show and Tell

 Date Posted: Thu, 15 Oct 2020

Black Sheep Show and Tell.


Because of the ongoing restrictions to singing due to COVID, our rehearsals are still all virtual. While online rehearsals are not in any way a substitute for singing together, they continue to keep us connected and Black Sheep Harmony members are still making the most of these challenging times.

We think that it is important to concentrate on the social aspect of our weekly meetings so although we do have a schedule of songs to practice, we are constantly coming up with new activities to keep things fun and fresh! One of the things that we enjoy is a weekly “Show and Tell” section during our Zoom rehearsals, with a different theme every week and there have been a wide variety to date. There is no obligation to take part, but many do and those that don’t, enjoy the varied and interesting stories that accompany the items.

These have included -

“Hair Through Time” where we were treated to many gorgeous of photos of members’ youthful hairstyles (who knew that the bubble perm would go out of fashion) which showed the diversity of looks that people have had; Here are a few photos of Sue’s varied hairstyles through the years.


“Souvenirs” where many of us shared items which brought back memories of events or holidays, including a very special piece of Beatles memorabilia (a signed cardboard insert from a pack of Y fronts!).

“Guess the Owner” a quiz where we had a slideshow of cats in hats and dogs in wigs, pets past and present, amusing and cute, but all well loved, who we attempted to match with their owners. 
These included -

Cat’s cat Merlin - Cat says “In my office we used to have a ‘secret Santa’ at Christmas. One year I opened my present and was confused by two tiny Santa hats – I realised my giver knew I had two cats, and the hats were meant for them! So I tried it out with Merlin, who is not the most congenial or cooperative of cats - he was not impressed – he coughed and choked as if convinced I was trying to strangle him. He turned and glared at me, but wore it long enough for me to take this photo".


Drea’s dog looks very soulful in a little wig


Ros’s beautiful and much loved papillon, Ziggy


“Transport” brought us a variety of much loved conveyances (including a white 2CV which was used in a wedding fleet and a Hillman Avenger with a papier-mâché dashboard) most of which ended up on the scrap heap.

“Yellow Things” brought us a singing banana in a fruity quartet - David, dressed as a banana in his quartet “Chord in the Act” when they performed to unsuspecting passers by during the launch of CBBC.

Kathy showed us a beautifully beaded flapper dress from the 1920s. She says “My great aunt Betty’s beaded Charleston dress from the 1920’s. She was a professional ballet dancer and theatrical performer throughout her life and well into her 70’s when she could still high kick! Her dress from that fascinating period has been passed down from her, through my mum and then to me. The intricate design of beads in amber and peach is stunning.
Unfortunately over the years of performances it has lost many of its beads which is a shame and it would be lovely to get it restored to its former glory!”


Debbie showed us a family portrait of her Mum in the 1940s, holding a chicken while wearing a yellow smocked dress, a hand me-down from her cousin. The painting shows the Chilterns where her grandfather was landlord of a country pub following relocation from London. Debbie remembers it hanging above the fireplace in the family home and it remains with her Mum to this day.


There were also a couple of upholstery projects, an adorable handmade felt duck toy from the 1940s and a stunning yellow orchid which flowered after many barren years.

Last but definitely not least was Kate’s “Yellow Submoorine”, a snorkelling cow! A competition winning design for a fibreglass cow in the colours of the Swedish flag which was exhibited in the public spaces of Stockholm.

“Fantastic Finds” 

Sophie showed us a lamp which she found at a flea market, only to be delighted when it turned out to be by a famous designer - “It's the only thing I have bought at a second hand market that I was pleasantly surprised by. Turns out it is an Ingo Maurer design, I didn't know it at the time!”


Kay amazed us with a stunning gold and uncut sapphire ring (AD 1219-1538) which she unearthed during an archeological dig in Stoke on Trent. It was found on the finger of a skeleton underneath Hulton Abbey and which went to the British Museum as it is treasure trove. It was subsequently purchased by the local Hanley Museum where it was put on display.

“Lockdown Projects” 

Ruth told us how she had trained and completed her 4th NHS Couch to 5K during lockdown despite battling with ulcerative colitis (well done Ruth).

Black Sheep Harmony are also lucky because another of Ruth’s Lockdown projects was to revamp our Instagram account for which we are truly grateful as it looks amazing!


Nicky showed us before and after photos of her garden improvements - it is now a fairy grotto with lights, rock gardens and even a little pond for frogs! The perfect place to relax during lockdown - as long as the fairies don't mind...


Julie’s upholstery project also came into the “yellow” category. She told us “It's an American Rocking chair which I bought for £30.  I stripped it back, sanded and varnished then re-upholstered.  It was the first time I have used weaving.  I was procrastinating for a while, then was motivated to finish during lockdown”.


Sue decided to take up patchwork again after a break of 30 years, but in miniature! “In my 20s I started making a patchwork quilt cover, it was huge but I never finished it and it languishes in a cupboard somewhere. I thought I’d have another go at patchwork as it’s the perfect thing to do when you can’t go out, but to make it different, I'd keep it small and topical. I made a piece of fabric out of inch wide hexagons cut from a variety of scraps and then used it to make a mask - I was very pleased with it and no-one else has one the same!”.


Claire took up cross stitch and sewed a variety of designs including this NHS Rainbow panel.

Black Sheep are keeping virtual rehearsals fun and sociable and as a result of items such as Show and Tell, we are probably finding out more about each other than we ever would if we were stood on the risers so every cloud has a silver lining!

Thank you everyone for your continued contributions.

Sue Davis. 

We're ready with our singing masks. Please let us sing!

 Date Posted: Tue, 6 Oct 2020
We're ready with our singing masks. Please let us sing!
As a chorus, we have really struggled with the lack of physical singing together, especially being a harmony chorus where hearing one another sing is so important. Zoom just does’t hack it!
Preparations are afoot to try to get back to some sort of normality with our Covid leaders, Sue & Joanna, sorting out the logistics of proper rehearsals. However, when we do meet, we will need to wear masks and normal masks just won’t work - we wouldn’t be able to open our mouths wide enough to sing.
With the help of a fantastic Facebook group “Masks for Singing” I explored the designs suggested on the page and copied and cut out the templates. Making an initial mask or two led to amending the design again with help from the group and we were ready for the off. 
All the members of the chorus who intend to get together singing chose 2 cotton fabrics from the stash I had purchased. Noey helped tremendously at this stage by getting acrylic templates of the design made up. That meant the cutting out (using a rotary knife) became so much easier. 

Then the hard graft started. I decided to make the masks batch style, completing one stage on all the masks before moving on to the next. This meant the process became easier as it became automatic and I then didn’t need to refer to the complicated instructions repeatedly.

I added three internal strips of fabric so that wearers could add in an extra filter layer if they choose plus an external nose wire casing on the top piece of the mask and a buttonhole with adjustable elastic for the bottom. I felt this was necessary so that we achieve a good fit for the mask no matter what shape or sized face the wearer has.

Putting all the pieces together I used the burrito method, where all the seams are enclosed - quite fiddly but a much neater and professional finish. 

Singers had the choice of ear loops or elastic going around the head, both adjustable for the same reason.

The form of the mask was created using plastic canvas - a flexible plastic with lots of holes in it making breathing less difficult than using an interfacing. The first design used long cable ties or corsetry boning to make the shape however this left the middle section prone to collapse after washing so it wasn’t ideal.

So now a total of 34 have been made and I am about to start another smaller batch. We just need our rehearsal venue to open and we are ready to sing!! 
 Kathy Farrell


Black Sheep LOVE "That Man"!

 Date Posted: Tue, 28 Jul 2020
Black Sheep LOVE "That Man"!

After finishing our successful video of “Anthem”, we were all raring to go on another lockdown project. Anthem is an emotional ballad, so we felt a change of tempo and sentiment was needed and what better than the current song we were learning, “That Man”, made famous by the wonderful Caro Emerald! We were loving the four part harmonies arranged by our very own Pete Nugent.

For “Anthem” we had combined both audio and video recording in one go but had found it so stressful trying to get not only the notes and words right but performing to the camera at the same time. Not to mention making sure our background was suitable! So this time we recorded the audio separate from the video, a much easier task for everyone. All our individual audio files were sent off to Pete for him to work his magic and then the fun began.

I had no real conception for the video at that stage however I wanted to show people doing things they enjoyed and, with some lovely weather imminent, decided that garden shots would be ideal. As lockdown was starting to ease it was the perfect opportunity for some of us to gather in small socially isolating groups in several member’s gardens, using individual’s gardens for the rest. The brief was to think of something to do while the filming was taking place, and I was amazed by the number of different activities that the chorus came up with, from gardening in all sorts of forms, drinking tea and alcohol (pretend of course !), doing sudoku, throwing games, playing cards, painting (the artistic kind), cleaning windows and so the list goes on.

The hardest part for me was on the hottest day of June when temperatures reached the mid 30’s and I was stuck in the sun for over 6 hours while filming 10 people at two venues. But I can say it was worth it as everyone stepped up to the mark and gave it everything. I’m the only one who has seen the complete videos of each singer at full size, and it was a delight to edit each individual performance.

But then the hard work began! Anyone who has edited video will appreciate the time it takes to produce just a few seconds of finished clip, however this project is five and half minutes long and I needed inspiration.

Of course our “That Man” had to be Pete, and I had filmed him early on, on a day which promised to be a bit dreary and cool. Typically of British weather, after a rain shower the temperature soared leaving Pete having to carry on playing his part in his thick jacket “for continuity”!

In the edit I chose to turn him into a cartoon character, to give humour to the piece, and with his antics on the day of filming and the extra clip I asked of him later it proved to be the right direction. And certainly the ending with everyone’s reactions to his “phone call” was a fitting finale to the song.

This screenshot gives a little bit of an idea as to how an editing screen looks during the process, although in realitiy it is a lot more complicated as each individual video has been incorporated into a grid.

The whole process has taken two months from start to finish, but I believe that the time spent was worth the effort, and hope that everyone who watches it will smile. On a personal note it was so lovely to meet up with each member, albeit for a short period of time, while we had fun filming. And a huge thank you to Sue F, Sandra, Lyn & Sophie who opened up their gardens for socially distanced filming of other members.       

Click the link below to watch the full video. If you would like to join us, we welcome new members at our Zoom rehearsals each Thursday.                                                                                                      

Kathy Farrell

YouTube Video URL:

Thank You, David!

 Date Posted: Sat, 30 May 2020
Thank You, David!
Even though us singers are still unable to meet physically, we are fortunate to be able to meet virtually and this enables us to carry on not only with rehearsals but also with chorus administration. 

We have recently held our 8th AGM but of course it was a very different meeting to the previous seven as it was held via Zoom. 

It is traditional at the AGM to hear a report from our Music Director but this year it was different, we had TWO MDs to present reports! The first was from our outgoing MD David Proud and the second from the new MD recruit, Pete Nugent. 

David started his report by remembering how eight years ago he wanted to create a chorus where "music is king" and was based on a rich sound and simple friendship but was also low cost. With less than ten members, no music, risers or money, Black Sheep Harmony was born. The chorus quickly grew as the word spread locally and soon began to win prizes at music festivals and competitions. 

David mentioned several competitions and events where the chorus was praised for its rich, resonant sound. For him, amongst the most notable were the two singouts at Bitton Railway Station. Another was the Reception for the Chairman of South Gloucestershire Council where Black Sheep Harmony provided the after dinner entertainment and looked stunning in black dresses with eye catching yellow corsages. Although we didn’t know it at the time, this was to be David's final singout as MD so it was doubly special as he felt that we had produced the best sound he had heard in recent years. 

David reflected it had been a difficult decision to retire but he was delighted with the appointment of Pete “Nooj” Nugent as his successor. He felt the chorus was very lucky indeed to have found Pete as he was “top director material” and he referred to Pete's fantastic baritone voice and many gold medals! 

Pete then said he had been made to feel very welcome and mentioned it was a two-way process for everyone; both chorus and director learning and growing over time. He wanted to thank the chorus for the first few weeks and also to thank David for handing over the reins to him. He said he looks forward to the Zoom rehearsals each Thursday. 

Pete is also looking forward to building on David’s work with the chorus by further developing Black Sheep and taking us to new heights! Although we are in challenging times, he has been inspired by his Dad's approach to look for the good in any situation. 

At the end of the meeting, we couldn’t let David’s achievements go unremarked so, as you can see in the photo, we all thanked him personally with our own individual thank you messages! 
Sue Davis

The Heard Immunity - Lockdown Chorus

 Date Posted: Tue, 12 May 2020
The Heard Immunity - Lockdown Chorus
Ever since lockdown started in March, Black Sheep Harmony, like so many other choruses, have been meeting virtually on Zoom to rehearse.  For us, it’s so much more, as our founder MD David Proud stepped down just as the lockdown started to be replaced by an amazing new gent, Pete “Nooj” Nugent.  Although Pete hasn’t had a single rehearsal in charge, the transition has been b-ewe-tifully managed.  Virtual rehearsals have included warm-ups from YouTube, singing through the four tracks of the week with each sheep muted. Breakouts into sectional rooms are next, giving us a chance to learn our two new songs and isolate problematic parts of older repertoire. After the 8 o’clock Clap for Carers there’s the educational segment (Mongolian throat-singing anyone?) and finally a good old catch-up in How are Ewe? For some of us this is the highlight of a quiet week. 
Despite all this online fun, we’ve been missing singing together and performing, so the music committee decided to make a video, but not just any video. We are so lucky to have the combined talents of videographer Kathy Farrell and tech genius Nooj to make us look and sound fantastic.  The LABBS polecat “Anthem” seemed to fit the mood of the times. However there was a fortnight’s worth of anguish as sheep tried to get their heads round the technical challenges of playing a special track in one ear on one device whilst filming on another, with nothing distracting in the background and not chopping off your own head in the shot. Not to mention the difficulties of finding a quiet time and space in homes with children / pets / partners wanting to get in on the act. Then there were the camera-shy ewes, those who are trying to work full-time from home, and the new recruit who had to learn the song first. And finally, we had to abandon our PJs and get glammed up with make-up and presentable hair!
The grand unveiling at rehearsal this week was greeted with acclaim and cries of “Let’s do another one!”. Cue groans from our video editor and MD.  So, I invite you to give the final product a watch - just pick 'Anthem' from our Have a Listen Page, or view on Facebook at

Coronavirus Challenges

 Date Posted: Sat, 25 Apr 2020
Coronavirus Challenges
The world feels very different at present, but Black Sheep Harmony is still singing!

In a few short weeks, like most of the global population, we have gone from happy little sheep, wandering where we will to being penned up, unable to go anywhere or visit friends and family.

We have tried our best to keep in contact with each other on social media and sing “together” using video conferencing, and although it is great fun, it just isn’t the same! 

It’s not a perfect situation but we are all grateful to this technology for keeping us connected, providing very welcome distraction and preventing us from feeling too isolated.

All singing groups are finding ways to cope with these challenges but for The Sheep, it has been a particularly difficult time. Our wonderful Director and founder member, David Proud was due, after eight years of dedicated leadership, to hand over the reins to our incoming MD, Pete “Nooj” Nugent. This was to happen at a special celebration evening, but then Lockdown happened!!

Our first ever Zoom rehearsal coincided with Pete’s first, what a difficult way to start, but he did a fantastic job.

It was a great success and as Pete hosted our first online get together, with input from the music team, the format for our Zoom meetings was established.

We are still learning, but we have had fun with highly topical warmups, practice of repertoire songs, sectional breakout rooms and educational segments. We even manage to have a mini break to celebrate the hugely difficult work of NHS and other essential frontline workers.

The evenings have been rounded off b-ewe-tifully with a “how are ewe” session. This social part of the evening is as much fun (at this stage, a tipple of your choice is an optional extra!), and as important as the singing part!

We are still open for business and although our current rehearsals are very different to normal ones, Black Sheep Harmony would still love to welcome new and even returning members.

Please contact us through the website or Facebook, we’d love to hear from you!

Vintage + PreLoved Fair - Cancelled

 Date Posted: Wed, 19 Feb 2020
Vintage + PreLoved Fair - Cancelled
This event has been cancelled due to the CoronaVirus pandemic.    
Black Sheep Harmony are delighted to be holding their 3rd annual Vintage and PreLoved Fair on Saturday 6th June at Hanham Community Centre.

Loads of stalls for you to browse and buy from. 

We are running our hugely popular Vintage Tea Room served on vintage china and also there will be live entertainment from roving barbershope quartets throughout the day. Plus tombola and raffle.

Avon Valley Railway 150th Gala Celebration.

 Date Posted: Mon, 5 Aug 2019
Avon Valley Railway 150th Gala Celebration.

The Avon Valley Railway 150th year Gala Celebration,  4th August 2019



The Flock have done it again! Even with a substantial reduction in numbers due to summer holidays, The Black Sheep put on a great show at The Avon Valley Railway 150th Gala Celebration event. 


The many happy visitors enjoyed lunch, evocative rides on a vintage train or bus, and the opportunity to browse local trade stands and displays from local museums. There was plenty of warm sunshine and cooling ice cream for all as they were entertained by The Sheep singing their hearts out to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the line.


It was a busy, interesting and very rewarding afternoon at a lovely location which was enjoyed by all!


Congratulations to Avon Valley Railway on holding such a successful event.



Thank You Pam

 Date Posted: Sat, 13 Jul 2019
Thank You Pam

Black Sheep Harmony said a big thank you to Pam for all her hard work for the group as treasurer. Pam is a founder member of Black Sheep, and has been our treasurer since those early days. 


She has worked tirelessly to keep our accounts in order, and has ensured a smooth transition by supporting our new treasurer, Cat. 


We were delighted to present Pam with some gift vouchers for her to spend as she wishes. She intends to buy something special for her garden to remind her of her time as the Black Sheep Treasurer. 


Thank you Pam, from all of us!

BBC Radio Bristol Christmas Celebration 19.12.18

 Date Posted: Thu, 20 Dec 2018



Last night, Black Sheep Harmony were thrilled to sing at the recording of the BBC Radio Bristol Christmas Celebration. A hardy few arrived in the afternoon to do a sound check which got us in the mood for the main event later in the evening.



We were sharing our green room with a fabulous young acapella group, The Bristol Suspensions, and during the evening were treated to a private performance of two of their songs. Thanks guys!


The concert, in aid of “The BBC Radio Bristol Alive Appeal” was performed to a large and very appreciative audience of around 500 people in the Anson Rooms in Clifton. A fantastic selection of excellent local talent was presented, and we were so pleased to be part of it. The appeal is aiming to raise £50,000 to change the lives of older people where we live.



We performed two sets of two songs. In the first set, we sang “O Holy Night”, as arranged by our own MD, David Proud, and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”. In the second set we treated the audience to “Carol of the Bells” and finished on a high with “Let it Snow”. Sadly, David was poorly with the Christmas lurgy and had to stay in bed with a hot toddy, so the chorus was directed by assistant MD, Sue Davis.


It was a great evening, the Sheep sang beautifully and it ended with everyone, audience and performers, singing a fun Christmas song together in a round. A rousing finale indeed!


The programme is due to be broadcast by BBC Radio Bristol on Christmas Eve at 6pm and again on Christmas Day at 9am. Tune in and enjoy!



First Christmas singouts 2018

 Date Posted: Tue, 11 Dec 2018

It’s Christmas!!! 

The Black Sheep have got the festive season off to a flying start with three very different, but all fantastic sing outs. 

Firstly, we sang at a special Christmas promotional event at Fonthill Garden Centre, Bitton. What a great evening! There were mince pies, Christmas treats from various local producers and a brass band to complete the festive feel. Thanks to the lovely staff and customers at Fonthill for a fab-ewe-lous evening.


Then, on a rainy Saturday morning we were invited to sing at Tesco Staple Hill as part of the Christmas on the Hill event where we were able to raise money for our chosen charity, Young Minds. Thank you to all the lovely shoppers for their donations and to the Tesco staff for making us feel so welcome. The chocolate reindeer were a real treat!


We then decamped to Hanham where we had a stall at the Christmas Fair, then finished the day by singing for the Hanham Hall Residents and their children. The grownups loved the singing and the children were so excited to be visiting Santa in his grotto. Susie, the organiser said “I just had to tell you how much I LOVED your choir this evening . What an amazingly enthusiastic choir you are, with beautiful strong voices and fantastic harmonies. I loved the whole ‘oneness’ of your choir and the diversity of your repertoire. You were all mesmerising and magical”.


It was a busy day and a lovely evening rounded off with mulled wine and mince pies.

Christmas starts here!





Learn to Sing In Harmony

 Date Posted: Fri, 21 Sep 2018
Black Sheep Harmony are pleased to invite any interested ladies to join our Learn to Sing in Harmony Course.
The course runs for three Thursdays, starting 4 October 2018
venue - Cadbury Heath Hall, School Road, Warmley - BS30 8EN


Vintage and Pre-loved Fair

 Date Posted: Fri, 2 Mar 2018
Vintage and Pre-loved Fair


Black Sheep Harmony are delighted to announce that we will be hosting a VINTAGE AND PRE-LOVED FAIR at Cadbury Heath Hall on June 2nd.


There will be vintage and pre-loved clothing and accessories, kitchenalia, china and glassware, bric-a-brac and gifts, and handcrafted items made from reclaimed materials. Local high street charities will also be well represented.


Come and enjoy traditional refreshments served on antique china at the Black Sheep Vintage Tea Room whilst being entertained by one of our roving Barbershop ensembles..


Enter the raffle to win one of our fabulous gift boxes.


Tables and/or rails are available at £10 each. To book a pitch, go to the upcoming events at the bottom of the page, or go to “News and Events” and click on “Upcoming Events”.


Black Sheep say Farewell to Mary Williams.

 Date Posted: Sat, 13 Jan 2018

Mary Williams moves to Pastures N-ewe.

It was with very mixed emotions that Black Sheep Harmony said farewell to Mary at our first rehearsal of the year in January 2018. She leaves us to take up the exciting new role of Music Director at another Bristol chorus, Avon Harmony.

Mary is virtually a founder member of Black Sheep Harmony, joining three weeks after its inception with very little singing experience. Since then, she has grown so much musically, and has become a real driving force, with her novel ideas, huge input and capacity for learning. She has held various roles in the chorus, including Baritone section leader and Associate Director, as well as being a valued member of the management team, and taking almost sole responsibility for our website and social media. Of course, we will also miss her sunny smile!


Mary has sung in various quartets within the chorus. Brizzlechix was Mary’s own project and her first real experience of Quartet singing. SongSmiths were very grateful that she was able to stand-in as baritone for several sing outs when Sophie was on maternity leave and she also competed at convention with BS4


The flock were determined to give her a good send off, so we filled a hamper with loads of gifts and wine, Noey made a unique card and Nicky baked a beautiful cake. Mary finished our rehearsal by directing “For The Longest Time” and “Happy Together”  for the last time. It was a sad yet happy occasion as we said, not goodbye, but “au revoir”


We are very proud that one of our members is able to go on to direct a chorus of her own. We will miss her very much, but she goes with all of our blessings and very best wishes that her new venture is a success.


Good Luck Mary!

Our review of 2017. What a year!

 Date Posted: Thu, 4 Jan 2018
 Our review of 2017. What a year!
A year in the life of Black Sheep Harmony. See and hear what we get up to as a matter of course!
YouTube Video URL:

Crafty Sheep!

 Date Posted: Tue, 8 Aug 2017
Crafty Sheep!

Here at Black Sheep Harmony, not only do we sing well but we craft well too.

Many of us have handicrafts as our hobbies – everything from knitting, sewing, growing plants, making “make it yourself” kits, making fudge and homemade chocolates, homemade cordial, and gin making - not to mention the cakes! J

So, early in 2016 we decided to host our very own craft fair. We hired the hall, contacted stall holders, recruited volunteers to make cakes and sell teas and coffees on the day, had a huge banner made for outside the hall and decided we would sing a few songs on the day.

It was a huge success. We worked hard, getting to the hall early to set up the tables and organise the stall holders and help them set up. The doors opened at 10am and people drifted in and spent their money on unique handmade items. We all took a turn in the kitchen, selling refreshments and homemade cakes and we sang a few songs for the shoppers and stall holders. The feedback from the stall holders was excellent – some of them said it was one of the best fair’s they’ve done. We packed up at 13.00 exhausted but pleased that it had gone well.

And, we are doing it all again this year but bigger and better. This year we will be at Chipping Sodbury Town Hall and have 30+ stall holders booked for our event on 11th November 2017.

On a smaller scale, we have a craft table at our rehearsal on the first Thursday of each month. Members bring all sorts to sell – this month we had beautiful handcrafted sets of 3 tubes on wooden stands filled with sweets, bath salts and gin (Gin does feature quite prominently with us Sheep!), handmade cot blankets and tote bags, homemade fudge and handcrafted gin(see what I mean!) and home-grown vegetables and plants. Last month we had hand sewn aprons, bags and bunting. We raised over £50 for our funds this month.

So it’s not all about singing – it’s about crafting too!


The Black Sheep Entertain in Chipping Sodbury

 Date Posted: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
The Black Sheep Entertain in Chipping Sodbury
The Black Sheep entertain Chipping Sodbury.

On a crisp and sunny winter Saturday in early December, the Black Sheep brought Christmas cheer to Chipping Sodbury. Our Christmas repertoire had its first public airing of 2016 at Barnhill Court where the lovely residents gave us such a warm welcome. We entertained them with a wide variety of Christmas arrangements, some carols, such as "Silent Night" and "The Coventry Carol", popular songs, "Let it Snow" being the chorus favourite, and even a Wassail thrown in for good measure! We were then treated to hot drinks and delicious cakes which helped keep us warm as the afternoon unfolded.

And my goodness, did we need keeping warm! As we left Barnhill Court, the glorious winter sunshine had been replaced by threatening clouds and a very chilly wind! We then took part in the festivities of the Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day. There was so much going on, many stalls selling everything Christmassy, gifts, foods, treats, even mulled wine! There were a variety of working steam engines and steamrollers, all kept in tip-top condition, despite their age. There was even a Town Cryer! As darkness fell, the lights twinkled as the steam drifted by.

The Black Sheep followed some fabulous displays of dance and gymnastics from very talented young people, and we assembled on the trailer. As we sang our Christmas repertoire, wrapped in our Christmas scarves and hats, decorated with tinsel, the audience grew and became ever more appreciative. David, however, became ever colder as he was receiving the full blast of the icy wind! It is always challenging singing in the open air, but we rose to the challenge, and were very well received. It was a lovely, festive start to our Christmas season, and we are looking forward to many more sing outs in the coming weeks.

Sue Davis
Black Sheep Harmony Ladies Chorus

Singing Can Take Over Your Life.

 Date Posted: Thu, 1 Dec 2016
Singing Can Take Over Your Life.

 If there's one thing I've learned about singing it's that you need never stop learning about singing! There is always further to go, more to learn. When I first started singing it was in the chorus of a small amateur dramatics group. Productions are taken very seriously and much work goes in to learning words and tunes. When I was cast in my first principle role, acting and singing solo, I thought it couldn't get more serious than that. Singing solo is a different ball game, and holding a tune against an orchestra and chorus is challenging, even when it's s a well known melody.

As I became more comfortable with battling the orchestra alone, the next step was duetting with another character and it was then that I started being asked to sing simple harmonies. This awakened in me a love for singing in harmony which just cannot be satisfied by singing solo. 

Fast forward a year or so and I joined a local choir. The leap from show tunes and old time music hall to classical and sacred music was exciting, and the choir sang in four part harmony, soprano, alto, tenor and bass (SATB) and singing alto, I was able to scratch that harmony itch! In both of the choirs I have sang in, singers are allowed to use sheet music, and whilst this is a useful crutch, it does mean that often the singers are not following the primary rule...."Watch the Conductor". Again, I thought that singing couldn't get much more challenging.

Then it happened! A friend from my drama group invited me to join a small, newly formed group called Black Sheep Harmony Ladies Chorus. She told me that they were ladies who sang in four part harmony in the Barbershop style. Having only heard Barbershop on The Simpsons, I thought I knew what I was letting myself in for. I was mistaken. From the first chord I was hooked, it was completely different to anything I'd done before.

The learning is done differently, instead of practicing with music at rehearsal, the learning is done at home with teach track and sheet music, so that when you get to rehearsal, you can start singing the song straight away. All without any instruments, and eventually without sheet music!! Vocal lines are named after the male Barbershop lines of tenor (the highest harmony part), lead (usually but not always sings the tune), baritone (fills in all the fabulous harmonies in the middle) and bass (the lowest of the harmony parts). I was lucky to be asked to sing baritone, a vocal part as rewarding as it is challenging. 

But if you thought that singing was just getting the right words and notes in the right order, then think again. There is so much more to it! Every week, we are given lessons in techniques to improve vocal quality, breathing, vowel matching, even posture. It all affects the sound made by the chorus. 

Thanks to joining Black Sheep Harmony, I now have the absolute pleasure to sing with three other chorus members in a quartet called The SongSmiths, and we have competed on the national stage as well as singing at local concerts and events. I feel that maybe this could be the pinnacle of my singing, that my singing "career" has led me to this point, and yet, I still have so much to learn. I am still on my musical journey, along with all the other ladies in the chorus and quartet, and it is such a joy! 

Singing with others in close harmony brings people closer together, and the sense of achievement when it all goes right is incredible, it really does make you feel good. 

Sue Davis, Baritone!


On becoming a Black Sheep!

 Date Posted: Mon, 1 Aug 2016
On becoming a Black Sheep!
 Well, who would have thought this time last year that I would have singing as a new hobby……and be a sheep?!  Certainly not me.  I have always liked singing, but all I had done in my role as a nursery nurse in school was leading 3 to 4 year olds through rhymes and songs each with an average of four rhyming lines to learn. No great feat!  In fact, I wasn’t even sure I could sing grown-up stuff.  Oh and I did get as far as grade 1 piano aged 7, but that really is as far as my musical knowledge went.  So it is with great pleasure and surprise that I find myself immersed in this new pastime.  It has beBlack Sheep Harmony singing whilst waiting for Radio Bristolen an exciting challenge and revelation to find that, I DO have the ability to learn the words and sing the notes of the BlackSheep repertoire. 

 This is all due to the wonderful opportunity to join the 'Learn2sing' course last September.  When I first heard BlackSheep sing, I was bowled over by the fantastic sound, complicated harmonies and a singing style which I had hardly ever come across before.   As I loved what I heard, so my journey began. Under the exceptional encouragement of David. With the terrific support, time and patience offered by Kathy. Along with the welcome from all the chorus, I began to think that maybe I can sing a bit.  So, with the aid of sheet music, teacher tracks and time spent very definitely alone in the kitchen, here I am enthusically learning all the songs and starting to make "sheep puns".

 I have found that becoming a BlackSheep (it is great to have a darker side when known as ‘Mrs Sensible’) has meant joining a group of people who offer friendship, laughs, fun, challenge and experiences that are often on the unusual side.  I’m really pleased and grateful that I have had this opportunity to realise the joy of singing. This new world only opened up because of the huge amount of work, organisation and commitment the chorus made in starting the Learn2sing classes, and all the support offered since then.

Sue F
YouTube Video URL:

We sing for gin!

 Date Posted: Sun, 31 Jul 2016
We sing for gin!
Didn't we have a luverly time the day we went to the Gin Festival?

Six thirsty sheep  (Nicky, Kathy, Ann, Sue D, Mary W and Noey) went along to the first Bath Gin Festival held at the Guild Hall  (a place we know and love so well) and........, drank gin, strangley enough! But what do you get when you mix girls from the chorus with alcohol? That's right....singing!

As we started singing, one lady came up to us and said "Are you from The Black Sheep?" It would seem that our fame and noteriety preceed us whenever we go! It turned out that she had been along to our concert at St Stephen's, recognised our style and clearly loved us!

But that was not all! What started off as a cheeky little sing on the stair well, turned into a full blown performance in front of about 300 people! The host of the Festival got to hear us and asked us if we would sing to the whole massed assembly. Before we knew it, we were up onstage with two microphones in front of us, doing our thing. They even paid us in gin tokens!

All in all it was a fabulous, fun event and not only did we drink a lot of different gins, but found out a lot of information as well. Did you know that gin is made out of potato vodka? Then they add the 'botanicals' like juniper berries and other aromatic herbs and spices. Fascinating stuff!

We were all a little jaded by the end of the evening, but it was brilliant fun and I thoroughly recommend it to ewe all next year!

Noey x 


One gin and six straws!

 Date Posted: Fri, 29 Jul 2016
One gin and six straws!
We had a luvverly time, the day we went to the Gin Festival.

A small flock of six thirsty sheep met up on the train and went to Bath to take part in the Gin Festival being held in the Guild Hall. It was a very civilised affair and whOne Gin and Six Strawso knew there were so many gins? About 120 of them we were told were there ready and waiting to be tasted. So not wishing to disappont any of them, we set about the difficult task of choosing just four of them (£20 bought you a four-drink card). A few free samples to start with got us well in the mood and soon we were learning all sorts of facts about gin apart from what it tasted like. Did you know gin is made from potato vodka, for example? So many different things are added to it to enhance its flavour (anything from anise to sweet violets) and we quickly worked out which ones were our favourites.

Now, what do you get when you mix girls from the chorus and gin together? Well.....singing as it happens. Somebody (I wonder who that could be) produced a pitch pipe and off we went. We hadn't been singing for long when a lady came up to us and asked "Are you from The Black Sheep?". Our fame spreads far and wide it would seem. She'd been to the concert at St Stephen's and had recognised us.. She said we were just as great then as we were at the concert. She wasn't the only one to notice us as what started out as a cheeky little sing in the stairwell turned into a full blown performance to about 300 people.

Black Sheep at the Gin FestivalThe host for the event heard us singing and asked us if we could sing in the main hall, Before we knew it we were up on stage with two microphones in front of us, singing to the entire massed assembly. We went down a storm and we were given free gin tokens for our efforts. One girl who'd heard us sing was so impressed she came over and gave us her last gin token for us to share. Hence the caption - one gin, six straws!

It was a fabulous fun day, so many thanks to the 'gin singers': Kathy, Ann, Sue D, Nicky, Mary W and Noey (me!). Next year it's my intention to do it all again, this time with a full chorus. Get ready!

Noey x

Midnight Walk 2016

 Date Posted: Sun, 10 Jul 2016
Midnight Walk 2016
 St. Peters Hospice Midnight Walk 2016One warm evening on July 9th 2016, over a dozen Black Sheep took to the streets of Bristol after a busy day to raise money walking five miles. It was for St. Peters Hospice who nurse people who are dying from terminal cancer in their caring and loving environment.

 It is a subject very close to our chorus' heart having lost our tenor friend Jill earlier this year. She was diagnosed less than a year before and sadly she passed away in the care of St. Peters Hospice. I was impressed by the devotion of the staff and helpers who nursed her to keep her comfortable and help look after the families emotional needs at such a difficult time. We did the walk last year when she feeling unwell and this year we tried to give something back and to ease the burdan of costs of this important charitable care. 

 On the day of the walk, it started with a few of us being asked to sing on BBC Radio Bristol. We had the crazy idea that this year we would dress as Sheep. So there we were at the BBC Bristol at 8am looking sheepish on the street. It didn't last long as one interview later and a song later live on the radio, our confidence had grown. Then we started busking in a cafe, on the street outside the charity shop and city museum.

 Later in the day, it was time for the walk. Some of us arrived just in the nick of time to be dragged straight onto the stage to sing to the crowd of a few hundred women in a sea of pink, flashing bunny ears and carnival gear who were also taking part. Lazy Day was the song of choice and the ladies loved us.

 The walk was long going, up and down steep hills, singing as we went and it is not quite so easy when you should be tucked up in bed. However as someone aptly said she wasn't dead yet and for that we should be very greatful You can donate at the link below.

Mary W.