Write because you want to, not because you have to.
They are some of the most loved singers in the Fringe realm and they are back at this year's Adelaide Fringe with a brand-spanking new show that is sure to make you put your dancing shoes to good use!
Gospo Collective will be celebrating Australia's music legends in their new show, which will offer audiences with a musical spectacle led by choral queen, Charmaine Jones. With a string of impressive mashups and renditions of songs by iconic superstars such as INXS, Olivia Newton-John, John Farnham, and many more, the squad hopes to demonstrate a beautiful combination of harmonization and choreography to leave you with a buzz during and post-show.
In anticipation of their participation at this year's Adelaide Fringe Festival, I was fortunate enough to conduct an e-interview with Charmaine - have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and the crew, Charmaine? Charmaine: I'm a mother of two beautiful daughters and the founder and director of Gospo Collective – an Adelaide based professional singing choir. I am also the founder of the choirs: Jones Juniors, Jones Chorus, Jones Commentary and the Big Black Kaftans, which are all educational arms of Gospo Collective. On top of that, I am a vocal coach for students at Pembroke and Monash. I formed Gospo Collective 11 years ago, following the stillborn of my first child Levi. He inspired me to find like-minded people who wanted to live and love through music. Our Gospo Collective singing group and five supporting choirs comprise over 100 local and interstate singers. We are the biggest musical act at the 2020 Adelaide Fringe.
Tema: How long have you been in the music and performing arts scene for and what has the experience been like so far? Charmaine: I've been singing for as long as I can remember. My mother Patricia Arulampalam is also a vocalist and educator. She was my very first teacher in all things art and life and instilled in me a passion to elevate and promote others' musical talents. The music and performing arts scene has appealed to me since childhood, as I spent much of it watching and being involved in the artistic industry so it was a natural progression.
I always knew I wanted to teach. That was my greatest attraction - being able to give someone else a chance to find their inner strength through education. My mother was amazing at doing this herself and she found a real sense of joy and contentment from doing so. I wanted to experience that - to lay my head down at night, knowing I have been able to help even just one other person with what I have to offer. Being an artist is a tricky profession, especially if you want to maintain consistent relationships and financial security all whilst having the time and energy to be creative and work on your craft. I don't think anyone chooses to be an artist, especially knowing these challenges. My art found me. It compelled me.
Tema: So, let's talk about Jukebox Chorus - what inspired the theme and concept of the show? Charmaine: Australia. My second home. The people I have met since moving to Australia from Sri Lanka have also inspired this show.
Tema: What is the basic premise of Jukebox Chorus, without giving too much away? Charmaine: Jukebox Chorus is a culmination of great Aussie hits, told through the lens of a Sri Lankan immigrant. I'm just one voice in the crowd... but I am hoping people will recognise their voice inside mine. We as humans are all more alike than we think - no matter what our backgrounds.
Tema: Who are the key individuals involved in the making of Jukebox Chorus? Charmaine: The making of Jukebox Chorus wouldn't be possible without my business partner and dear friend Ben Gillard. This also includes our extremely talented singers across all five choirs: Gospo Collective, Jones Commentary, Jones Chorus, Jones Juniors and the Big Black Kaftans. They are the people who allow me to bring me creative dreams to life.
Tema: What are you hoping for Jukebox Chorus to offer to your audience? Charmaine: A sense of what it means to be a community through music. What to learn from, grow to, be proud of, how to forgive, seek forgiveness, how to heal and how to become advocates for unity.
Tema: What do you think makes Jukebox Chorus a must-watch show? Charmaine: The people. Our show is made up of more than 100 Adelaide-based singers - from professionals and amateurs, to those who simply sing with us for fun or have a sense of belonging. The melodic mashups, the storyline – all of this is a unique take on iconic Aussie music that has never been heard before.
Tema: How did you get involved with the Adelaide Fringe (AF)? Charmaine: I first got involved with the Adelaide Fringe over a decade ago with a show called Gospocentric. I had the help of a dear friend and beloved man, Anthony Williamson, who we said goodbye to last year. I think he's definitely going to be there in spirit for this show!
Tema: How long have you been performing with AF and what has the journey been like so far? Charmaine: I've been a part of the Adelaide Fringe since 2009, with both small and big acts that have been known and unknown, liked and disliked. But one fact remains, it was an incredible honour to be a part of a festival that was started by founders who believed in giving a voice to all artists of all walks of life. The saying 'struggling for your art' doesn't come cheap - but boy is it worth it!
Tema: As a returning Adelaide Fringe performer, what are you hoping to expect from this year's participation in the festival? Charmaine: As always, I look at Fringe as a time to give back and in return, receive art and life lessons that I will cherish forever. I hope that our followers and the general public will see merit and fruit in what we are putting on the table in terms of art, and be moved by the offering.
Tema: What do you think makes the AF scene such an exciting and attractive festival? Charmaine: So many people invest in this special time of year, from performers and creatives to event organisers and audiences –it's such an amazing learning experience. It's welcoming and diverse. It's colourful and thought-provoking. It's a wonderful display of art and artistry within our city.
Tema: When you're not out performing on stage, what does a day in the life of the crew typically look like? Charmaine: We all have day jobs. Some in music and others in a variety of different areas. What is wonderful – even about our day to day lives – is that in some way through this bond of music, we are all tied together. We work, we play, we come together to celebrate each other and the lives around us. Mostly with food! We love our eating hangs! Personally, I'm a single mother of two girls and my day job is being a choral and singing coordinator at Pembroke School. I am also the co-director of Gospo Enterprises alongside my best friend Ben Gillard.
Tema: What advice would you give to those who are looking to break into the music industry? Charmaine: Don't ever give up on your dreams. Collaborate. Be open to evolution whilst taking what has gone before you in the art world with respect. Always promote the success of others, and see your own worth and value through the lens of hard work, determination and self-growth rather than money and fame. Always be open to learn. Always offer your gifts to the best of your ability - not for anyone else's sake, but for your own, for where your heart lies, there also lies your treasure.
Tema: How do you all keep your voices in good health - are there any tips that you'd like to share with us? Charmaine: We steam and salt gargle. We also do remedial exercises like siren/sob and do heavy retraction exercises. We are mindful of our speaking, to use the appropriate techniques which provide safety and flexibility. We use our humidifiers, try to sleep when we can, exercise, eat well, talk out our fears and anxieties and use gratitude and joy as our release tool.
Jukebox Chorus - The Ultimate Australian Playlist will be performing at Gluttony as part of Adelaide Fringe till March 15, 2020. Book your tix here.