Award-winning folk stars The Unthanks join community choirs for exclusive North East performance

Show will form a highlight of 150th Miners' Picnic at Woodhorn in Ashington on June 14


Folk favourites The Unthanks joined up with community choirs in Northumberland for a tuneful rehearsal ahead of a special performance at this month’s 150th Miners’ Picnic.

The award-winning group, renowned for their take on Northumbrian folk and timeless lyrics, have been working with local singers from Wansbeck Voices and 2000 Voices for their exclusive performance of Bait Big Sing!

Set to feature traditional music and folk songs from the region, some of them rare, it is expected to a highlight of the annual picnic later this month.


Yesterday’s rehearsal at Bedlington Community Centre built upon sessions in which Becky Unthank and band member Niopha Keegan have helped the choirs develop their technique.

They’ve also been learning new songs together since the spring. The choirs last performed at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington as part of the winter lantern parade hosted by Bait, which is part of a campaign to encourage involvement in the arts in areas where it might not usually happen, and receiving tips from The Unthanks, whose second album The Bairns was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, was a huge boost.

Graham Coatman, director of 2000 Voices which was itself set up to get the North East singing, said: “We have launched three new choirs in South East Northumberland within the last year and the opportunity to be part of a big performance is both daunting and exciting for the 100 singers involved.

“They have responded really well to the challenge and that has been down to the great support and encouragement from Becky and Niopha.”

He said both the Silver Singers, a group of over-50s, and the community choirs have gained a great deal from the project.

“The result should be magic.”

The family-friendly performance can be heard for free at the Miners’ Picnic which takes place from 10am to 5pm at Woodhorn on June 14.


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