The Lewisham NHS Choir’s ‘I can see clearly now’ is a song of hope.
They are known for their emotional rendition of classic songs. The video is a cover of Johnny Nash’s ‘I Can See Clearly Now’. As this was recorded during lockdown the doctors, hospital workers, nurses and community health staff that make up the choir were working long, challenging shifts.
Choir tenor Johan Lindskog, who also played guitar on the track and works as an anaesthetist says that since he inturbated his first Covid-19 patient he has worked “flat out”.
“It’s been so helpful to have a project like this to spend time on. It has really lifted my spirits, and I know that’s true of the rest of the choir too. We’re really pleased with the result musically as well – everyone’s done so brilliantly in shaping the track and video.”
Caroline Smith, the choir’s coordinator and a Paediatric Physiotherapist, gave an insight into their song choice: “I know that some will argue that it’s too positive a song to have chosen, as the world is of course nowhere close to being ‘back to normal’, but with services reopening around the Trust, and with the morale-boost and sense of wellbeing that working on this project has given us, we wanted to get the message out there – as the song says, “I think I can make it now”.
“We hope people across the NHS and the whole country can get behind that message.”
The vocal arrangement is by the choir’s long-time musical director Phil Mitchell, with his wife Lucy, director of LJ Studios, mixing and mastering the recording and Leah Robinson from video startup Robinson Freelance shaping the video from dozens of clips of choir members singing, dancing and – on one occasion – manhandling a teddy bear. The song bounds along with a specially recorded backing track from Liam Dunachie pianist and choir co-musical director, Dan Humpreys on the bass and drums by Ollie Boorman.
The choir started back in 2012 as part of Gareth Malone’s BBC2 show, ‘Sing While You Work’. Their success on the show took them from television to the Royal Albert Hall, the FA Cup Final, Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage and more. In 2015 their Christmas single ‘A Bridge Over You’ beat the likes of Justin Bieber, Adele, Stormzy and One Direction to the number one spot.
Deirdre Barr, St John Ambulance regional clinical manager said: “Our volunteers are incredibly proud to have played their part in supporting patients and staff at the Trust during COVID-19. Lewisham was the very first site in the country to welcome our volunteers as they started this new and challenging role; but, with the help from hospital staff and clinical teams they soon found their feet and became part of the team, right in the heart of the community.”
There’s a message at the end asking people to show their support for Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust’s own charity as well as the heroes at St John Ambulance, who have volunteered throughout Covid-19 in Greenwich and Lewisham.
After the Lewisham NHS Choir achieved a Christmas No1 in 2015 with their smash hit ‘A Bridge Over You’ with Justin Bieber’s support, Cllr Alan Hall put forward a motion to Lewisham Council to recognise this national achievement and called for a performance at the town hall. The choir did perform at the Council’s AGM around Easter, superbly. At that time the choir said: “We do this job because we love it and are committed to looking after our patients. We think this song sums up that sentiment and is a way of celebrating the thousands of dedicated staff across the country.”