Brave novice crooners have raised more than £60,000 for charity after performing in front of more than 100 people following a singing crash course.
The intrepid foursome had expert tuition from composer-to-royalty Professor Paul Mealor and colleague Dr John Frederick Hudson ahead of their performances to raise money for the University of Aberdeen’s Alzheimer’s research.
To add to the pressure the performances were complemented by Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor, formerly of Strictly Come Dancing, and singer/songwriter Beth Sherburn.
Organiser and local businessman Charlie Bain was joined onstage by his fellow singing newbies Carol Benzie, managing director of Aberdeen International Airport, Sylvia Halkerston, consultant and non-executive director, and former chief executive of Wood, Bob Keiller.
Charlie – who owns Ceuro Communications – and his wife Carol are long-term fundraisers and organised the Different Singing Memories event at the Mercure Ardoe House hotel.
Bob’s rendition of Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell was a highlight of the evening as he wore a flowing wig and clutched the iconic singer’s trademark handkerchief.
He said: “It was absolutely terrifying. I was totally outside of my comfort zone.
“Ultimately it was for a good cause and worth doing but it was pretty scary.
“Doing such a long song solo was daunting. Paul gave us the confidence to give it a go and it was good fun working with him.”
Despite enjoying the evening Bob admitted he holds no desire to repeat the experience. “Getting to the end was relief and I thought ‘I’m not doing that again, ever’,” he added. It was a good fun night and a great cause.”
Carol performed Be My Guest from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and dressed as the candlestick character Lumière. She said: “There were a few nerves but friendly faces there that made it easier. Paul and John took us out of our comfort zone and we gave it laldy.”
As well as tuning up her vocal chords for the big night Carol even made her own costume.
“My dining room table looked like an episode of Blue Peter – there was glitter and glue and sticky tape everywhere.
“If I was going to dress up as a candlestick I needed to give it my best effort.”
Carol said Paul chose the songs based on their personalities.
“I’m not sure what it says about me that he thought I was a Disney candlestick,” she laughed.
In her performance Sylvia teased the audience with her feather boa as she belted out Shirley Bassey’s Hey Big Spender.
She said: “Nerves didn’t cover it because I have never been a singer.
“I thought ‘if I can go up there and even if I make a fool of myself for two minutes at least it will help raise money’. I’m not a shrinking violet but I was thinking ‘oh my goodness’. My mum used to bang on the bathroom door and plead with me not to sing.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and glad I did it and we all supported each other.
“I’ve never done anything in my life where the build-up was so worrying.
“Now we’ve done it and don’t ask me to stand up and sing in public again … but to be honest I don’t know if the public would want me to stand up and sing again.”
All four were coached by Prof Mealor, who composed the music for the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and colleague Dr Hudson.
Organiser Charlie also took to the floor. He donned a matador outfit for his rendition of Toreador Song from Bizet’s opera Carmen.
He said: “It was a fantastic experience, and I think I speak for everyone, when I say it was a fantastic evening. I have to thank my fellow first-time singers for being such good sports. I’d like to thank Professor Mealor and Dr Hudson for all their coaching efforts – I hope we did them proud.”
It was the fifth time Charlie has organised a charity event after being spurred on in his charity work by witnessing what Alzheimer’s disease was doing to his dad and father-in-law, both of whom succumbed to the disease within weeks of each other.
After meeting Professor Matteo Zanda, chairman of medical technologies at the University of Aberdeen and director of the John Mallard Scottish PET Centre, Charlie has focussed his fundraising on funding Alzheimer’s research at the university.
Professor Zanda said: “With the fantastic support of this event, the University of Aberdeen will recruit a PhD student dedicated to dementia research.”
He added the research “could pave the way for new techniques to monitor dementia and deliver targeted therapies”.