Monday, 16 October 2017

A sprinkling of choreography, a sizzle of ukes and a huge dash of humour!

The Decibelles are an a capello trio of our talented singing tutors, with a vintage vibe. Here Deirdre talks about how they got together. 

Vintage style photo of The Decibelles with polka dot dresses
(From left to right) Janet Oates, Wendy Linsey and Deirdre O'Kelly
We’ve known each other for about five years now. We first met when we were all involved in putting on a Christmas concert with our singing groups at RACC. Our line manager Dave suggested we sing a song together and we thought ‘why not?’, so we sang ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ in harmony. We really enjoyed it (and so did the false modesty!) so we thought we should keep going.

We’ve become a close harmony group and we’ve got our own website, Facebook and Twitter pages (even Instagram now!). We’ve sung at many different venues including the Pheasantry in Chelsea, the OSO Arts Centre in Barnes, the Ram Jam in Kingston and the Half Moon in Putney. We’ve done a mini tour (well, we’ve been to Whitstable and Worthing!) and we’ve been on BBC Radio Kent. When we’re not putting on our own shows, we quite often perform at private parties. We were asked to write our own arrangement of ‘All of Me’ for a recent wedding, and the bride and groom had their first dance to it which was lovely. (We forgot to warn them it was five minutes long, and the groom may not have been the best dancer in the world - ahem!)

Halloween poster advertising The Decibelles' next gig
We are really lucky that as tutors at RACC we have access to the brilliant facilities - and of course we’ve performed at the college many times. We premiered our first cabaret show, ‘The Decibelles Do Love’ at RACC on Valentine’s Day. We’ve since gone on to create two more shows - ‘The Decibelles Do Hollywood’ - and we’re currently working on ‘The Decibelles Do Halloween’ on 28th October at the OSO in Barnes. We'll have a lot of new songs with a spooky theme: ‘Bewitched’, ‘I Put a Spell on You’, ‘Ghost Town’, and of course,‘Thriller.' They’re all either a capella or we use our own instruments like ukuleles and percussion - Wendy even has a keytar (very 80s New Romantic look).

Being in the Decibelles is fun but it's hard work. Now that we’re branching out into cabaret and even doing little bits of comedy and choreography, we need LOADS of rehearsal as each show takes a lot of time to create. This year we also recorded a video and had a session in a recording studio. It’s probably time we got some help with the bookings etc - so that’s our next step.

One of the best things is arranging our own music - we all take turns to do this, and we try to learn between three and six new songs for each show. It means each show is fresh and our audiences always have something new to hear. We’ve each got our own style, but it’s hard to put our finger on what makes each of our arrangements different (the only thing we agree on is that Janet’s are the most difficult!). 

Vintage style photo of The Decibelles in polka dot dressesWhen we're not singing or rehearsing with the Decibelles we're all doing other musical things like running our own choirs and teaching singing. Wendy sings with the Soul Trippers and various jazz trios (and she actually started out as a student here at RACC); Janet is into classical and weird contemporary music, and I run too many community and rock choirs to count! It’s great that we all have our own musical genre which we specialise in. It means between us we have a good range of musical knowledge and our arrangements are really varied.

We’re combining our teaching with The Decibelles now too - with a Christmas Workshop in December for any of our students who want to learn to sing in close harmony. We’ll be teaching some Christmas songs and taking students to perform in a local pub afterwards. We'd love you to join us!

You can find out more about The Decibelles by visiting their website, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts. You can also check out our singing courses starting in January.