INTENSIVE CARE STAFF AIMING FOR A DIFFERENT KIND OF VIRAL AS ICU CHOIR JOINS THE RACE FOR CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE
A 100 strong Zoom choir made up of ICU staff is releasing a re-make of classic Police track ‘Every Breath You Take’ in a bid to secure the Christmas number one spot and raise funds to support NHS staff recovery from the trials of 2020.
Known as the ICU Liberty Singers, the choir began life as an attempt to bring some fun and respite to ICU workers after the toughest year in history. Choir members include ICU staff such as nurses, doctors and allied health professionals who have been working on the frontline of healthcare.
As more data emerges, it is now clear that around 1 in ten people who catch COVID-19 end up needing hospital treatment. Of those, around one third end up in ICU. This is why limiting the spread really matters – if 1000 people catch it, 100 will end up in hospital, and over 30 will end up in intensive care. Right now, over 20,000* new cases A DAY are being reported, with almost 1800* people in intensive care due to COVID.
While the country has had varying degrees of lockdown to contend with – the relentless pace of caring for the most seriously affected has not changed hugely for ICU staff and now they face going in to winter – traditionally hugely challenging in a normal year – with a second wave hitting hard.
Working on the basis that music and singing are immensely relaxing for the mind, Choir Director Kari Olsen Porthouse contacted Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, Dr Alison Pittard and offered to run a pop up choir – with 4 singing sessions and a remote recording of one of the songs. Kari said:
“Singing is immensely powerful for helping establish and maintain good mental health – but something really special happens when we sing together and the effect is even more powerful. There is a sense of belonging, and a sense of a team working to deliver something beautiful. That perfectly captures the strength and teamwork of ICU staff this year and the chance to give them something back and recognise their phenomenal efforts is a privilege”.Kari Olsen-Porthouse
Jackie Shears, from NHS Digital, and a member of one of Kari’s other choirs, heard about the choir and promptly penned a carefully re-worded version of the Police hit ‘Every Breath You Take’ to express the extraordinary contribution of ICU workers across the country this year – and to encourage the public to continue taking recommended precautions to help prevent more demand on ICU’s. Jackie said:
“I really wanted to recognise that while we are all frustrated by the restrictions, ICU staff have had minimal respite since March, have continued to provide high levels of care and professionalism, identifying treatments and working out how best to care for incredibly unwell people. The second wave comes at the end of an unprecedented year, without let up – so the song includes a plea on their behalf not to let levels rise further and create any more demand than is necessary”.Jackie Shears
The 100 strong choir includes ICU staff from every region and ‘met’ for the first time, on Zoom, on November 25th, and had an hour of hilarity, singing a range of songs. They were able to ‘let go’ of the enormous pressure they have faced all year, for a short hour and come together instead in a spirit of fun and relaxation, as evidenced by this tweet after the first rehearsal.
Since then, legal permission was granted by SONY ATV, which owns the rights to Every Breath You Take (I’ll Be Watching You) and the opportunity to release the song took shape. The Choir had a second group rehearsal and then used videos of Kari conducting each part so they could practise in private, between rehearsals – and sometimes even during their breaks on shift!
The track comprises 200+ individual vocal recordings sung by the choir members, recorded in their own homes and then blended to create a ‘virtual choir’.
The single is released on December 18th and will be available for download and streaming through the usual channels.
Alison Pittard, Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care commented:
“This has been such a fun way to recognise and thank ICU staff. It has been an utterly extraordinary year and I am beyond proud and grateful to all ICU workers for their skill, dedication and professionalism in the face of unprecedented circumstances. Marking this in as public a way as possible seemed only appropriate.”Alison Pittard, Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine
The group are planning to take on Liam Gallagher, Jess Glynne and Robbie Williams in a bid for the top spot. All money raised will go to create a fund, managed through the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, to provide support for staff that they feel will have a positive impact on their Wellbeing and Mental health after an extraordinarily impactful year.
About the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine:
What is the Faculty?
The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine was founded in 2010 and has well over 3,500 members, making it the largest organisation of critical care medical professionals in the UK. The Faculty is the professional and statutory body for the specialty of intensive care medicine, the doctors who lead critical care services and Advanced Critical Care Practitioners. It has charitable status via its governance structure within the Royal College of Anaesthetists.
What is the Faculty’s vision?
The Faculty works on behalf of its members and our wider services to promote education and standards, influence and define national policy, and, most importantly, improve outcomes for our patients and their families.
Contact FICM at https://www.ficm.ac.uk/contact-us
About Liberty Singers:
Liberty Singers are a range of choirs run by charismatic Choir Director Kari Olsen-Porthouse. In normal times she runs a huge (150 strong) community choir, plus several smaller choirs, in the community and based in various workplaces. A firm believer in the power of singing to lift morale and grow team relationships she brings singing to the workplace on a monthly or weekly basis. Lockdown put a stop to all singing in person, and thus Online Liberty Singers was born. With a weekly online community choir numbering more than 80, plus a number of smaller groups she has successfully developed the online choir concept, offering rehearsals and then blended recordings to give choirs something to work towards together.
Contact Liberty Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Available for Interview
Alison Pittard – Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, email@example.com
Kari Olsen-Porthouse – Freelance Choir Director Libertysinger@gmail.com
Jackie Shears – Programme Director, NHS Digital Jackie.firstname.lastname@example.org