Former St Albans teacher and friends hit festive lockdown note with catchy collaborative Christmas single
- Credit: Archant
If this doesn’t get you singing, nothing will…
The best Christmas song of the year has been released – it’s official.
With the catchiest of lyrics, uplifting sentiment and a singalong vibe symbolic of inclusive music charity Electric Umbrella, you seriously need ‘The Best Christmas (in Lockdown)’ in your life.
It’s a creative collaborative original song, written and produced jointly by members and friends of the Hertfordshire-based organisation, which supports adults with learning disabilities by providing meaningful music-based opportunities to socialise and engage.
During the first lockdown, Electric Umbrella went online, bringing fun interactive shows, singalongs and inspiring guests to its hundreds of members, many of whom rely on the social creative sessions to see them through.
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Guests have included celebrities Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Toyah Willcox, Andrew Self, Dan Gillespie Sells from The Feeling and Tony Hadley - the two latter sing on the Christmas single.
The festive track – released this week on major online music platforms – was made remotely, as part of the incredible work Electric Umbrella do and is available to purchase for 99p.
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It was completed in four weeks, written and produced by former St Albans teacher Tom Billington, Jo Webb and Electric Umbrella. The video was edited by Holly Petrie.
The anthemic chorus had us smiling, crying and singing along – “It looks like Christmas dinner’s on Zoom, so we feel like we’re all in the room, and the bells they cannot ring but we all can sing…”
Clever timely lyrics also include “I want to break free from these paper chains” and “I wish this new normal would disappear”. It opens with the sombre “I don’t want to spend Christmas in lockdown” and reaches a joyful climax with everyone singing along.
Tom Billington, Electric Umbrella’s artistic director, spent years teaching music at The Marlborough Science Academy, Watling Street, and is well-known in the music scene for fronting Mohair, an energetic charismatic pop band which sold-out The Horn pub regularly.
He co-founded Electric Umbrella several years ago, following a varied star-studded impressive musical career, now using his skills and talent to enhance the lives of adults with learning disabilities.
Tom said: “The Christmas single happened completely by accident. We were close to finishing the album when the second lockdown happened, and someone said: ‘I don’t want to spend Christmas in lockdown’. And before we knew it, we were knee-deep into writing a Christmas single.
“Via Zoom we gathered people’s thoughts, ideas, fears and hopes of what Christmas would look like this year and did our best to capture this weird moment in time. Technically it was challenging recording the vocals. I had to grab what I could, when I could. Some were recorded while people were in shops, the car, the kitchen and the bathroom.
“We had no idea what a lockdown Christmas would look like, but we did know it would be better spent together – even virtually.”
Everyone with or without a learning disability is invited to an online festive singalong, broadcast via Zoom and Facebook on Friday (December 18) at 7pm.
The charity will release their new album ‘Sunflower Avenue’ in February, which was written and recorded entirely this year, having also delivered 1,500 hours of online content, releasing three singles and recently marking their 100th singalong session.
Electric Umbrella chief executive officer Mel Boda said: “For many people with learning disabilities, living a life of isolation is something quite familiar to them already.
“The closure of activities, loss of routine, purpose and regular connection due to restrictions has exacerbated this situation, leading to increased pressure on individuals and the families supporting them.
“We’ve worked really hard to provide slick and professional uplifting shows designed to entertain and reduce that isolation.”
Purchase ‘The Best Christmas (in Lockdown)’ on iTunes and Amazon.
For more information about Electric Umbrella, visit their website: https://www.electricumbrella.co.uk/