CN&CO Events and Freshly Minced put together a spectacular evening of song, called Chorus, on 21 February at Higher Ground in Johannesburg. Our host was the inimitable performer Lolly Sonmez, who had us in stitches from the moment she came careening through the door.

Taryn, Rikus, Linda and Matt in full voice

And then we sang.

For three hours.

And it was magical.

According to the internet (a trustworthy source of useful information… right?) “Singing improves your mood. It releases the same feel-good brain chemicals as sex and chocolate. It is very effective as a stress reliever and improves sleep. Singing releases pain-relieving endorphins, helping you to forget that painful tooth/knee/whatever.”

Everyone who was at Chorus will attest to the veracity of the above statement. From Sinatra to Abba; The Sound of Music to Grease; from the 60s to now, spanning genres and time zones, Lolly had us belting out a series of crowd-pleasers that was as diverse as the crowd itself.

Not only was Chorus a lot of fun, we managed to raise R15 000 for the Theatre Benevolent Fund!

The idea came to Carel while he was visiting New York last year. He found himself in a piano bar one night (as one does) called Marie’s Crisis, which describes itself as “is a dive bar that epitomises a deep love for show tune music, community, and fun.”

“It was such a fun evening I just knew we had to do something similar in Joburg,” he says.

Carel contacted Freshly Minced’s Darren Hayward, who had recommended Marie’s Crisis, and got CN&CO Events involved. Together, the two teams put together a most amazing event that got everyone involved, happy and buzzing with the same feel-good brain chemicals that we get from sex and chocolate.

“After experiencing the sheer joy of everyone singing together at Marie’s Crisis in New York, I always wondered if South Africans would lose their inhibitions and do the same,” says Darren. “Turns out they will! It was such a pleasure partnering with Carel and the team to bring the Chorus concept to life in the heart of Sandton.”

Here’s what some of the singer-guests had to say about the evening:

“What an epic evening; you guys rock!” – Linda Glass

“Thanks for a wonderful, gleeful evening! A reminder of how happy, fun moments are easy to find!” – Alison Badenhorst

“I arrived on Friday with some trepidation and left with much jubilation. As a group activity, I thoroughly recommend singing your heart out with a group of people who are only concerned about their own voices – it leaves you feeling powerful and rejuvenated.” – Caroline Smith

“I have never believed I’m a singer, but I sang at the top of my voice on Friday night and had a really good time.” – Gregory Gomes

“This event reminded me of one of Carel’s popular sayings: ‘Take what you do seriously, not yourself’. I had no idea what to expect. The concept sounded epic… but what exactly does a singalong involve? Well, the event was an enormous amount of fun and you would be silly to miss the next one.” – Joshua Nuttall

“Thanks to the 100+ brave souls who belted out tunes and had fun at our first Chorus Line on Friday. We were able to raise money for charity and mke a small contribution to #SARising. Thank you all!” – Carel Nolte

“What a brilliantly bizarre, super fun evening. We had such a great time, singing our hearts out, laughing, and meeting new people, cannot wait for the next one!” – Kurt Solomon  

“Friday night was completely epic!! What an great idea and I think everyone there had an excellent evening.” – Taryn Clure

I had so much fun at chorus! I love singing so this was bound to be a good time. While I recognised a number of the songs from musicals, the ‘classic hits’ lists certainly expanded my musical vocabulary with songs I had never heard before.” – Lethabo-Thabo Royds

“I had an incredible time at chorus! It’s a must-do for everyone.” – Byron Boer

Keep your scanners peeled for the next Joburg Chorus planned for later in the year. And if you’re in Cape Town… who knows? We might see you there sometime soon as well.