Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

From Humming in the Office to Singing for Sting; the Choir Voices of Virtue Will Be Centre Stage Again This Weekend. DAVID WHETSTONE Talks to Singer Mattie Imarhiagbe Voices of Virtue (Mattie on the Right) with Sting

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

From Humming in the Office to Singing for Sting; the Choir Voices of Virtue Will Be Centre Stage Again This Weekend. DAVID WHETSTONE Talks to Singer Mattie Imarhiagbe Voices of Virtue (Mattie on the Right) with Sting

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID WHETSTONE

YOU might have come across Voices of Virtue, the North East gospel choir that has popped up on some prestigious platforms over the last couple of years.

During the Freedom City 2017 festival last year, remembering Dr Martin Luther King's speech at Newcastle University, they were a ubiquitous melodic presence.

They performed in front of the outgoing American Ambassador at the Speaker's House at the House of Commons and they were at Wylam Brewery with Sting after the first night of his musical The Last Ship.

They've got a gig coming up at Live Theatre this weekend and will then be at Sage Gateshead next month at a Great Exhibition of the North gig celebrating the 25th anniversary of World Headquarters, the Newcastle nightclub.

Mattie Imarhiagbe, a mainstay of the choir, is thoroughly looking forward to both occasions.

The choir, she explains, was set up by herself and her friend, Chichi Igun.

Her own talent for singing was not exactly a light hidden under a bushel.

"I'm a social worker," says Mattie, "and I was singing in the office, like I always do, when one of my managers said, 'That's a lovely song. Do you sing at weddings?' I was like, 'Yeah', but I was thinking: I'm going to have to put something together."

The song was Ave Maria, the Beyonce version. Mattie's office, you'll be thinking, must have been quite a cheerful, upbeat place.

But I have to tell you that Mattie's voice on the phone sounds like that of a small distressed animal.

"I've got tonsilitis and I'm on antibiotics," she squeaks. "But it's all right. I'll be back to my old self on Saturday.

"It's a different muscle, see. Singing comes from the diaphragm."

But back to that chance remark in the office.

Mattie and Chichi did get something together, gathering like-minded friends to perform soul and gospel music. When a band was required, they raised a band, so Voices of Virtue can now call on 12 regular singers and five musicians, enough to suit every venue or occasion.

Voices of Virtue is much in demand and becoming more accomplished by the year. …

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