‘The Starlets’ perform songs with a nostalgic punch. The ‘bread and butter’ of this vocal trio is the close-harmony, wartime tunes of The Andrews Sisters.
This time last year the Christchurch-based singers performed in an Anzac concert with Woolston Brass in the recently opened Christchurch Town Hall. 2020 is a much quieter affair with all their Anzac-themed concerts cancelled due to the Covid-19 lockdown. They were looking forward to performing in the North Island town of Stratford, dressed in army outfits and waving to crowds from an army tank.
While missing their weekly rehearsals, Sarah Greenwood Buchanan, Georgia Heard and Sarah Kelly have embraced the opportunities to catch up online. It’s time to enjoy a sneaky wine, plan for the future and brain-storm new ideas for concerts. Trying to rehearse online isn’t as productive as they’d like, with audio delay sometimes causing much-needed laughs. ‘The Starlets’ is a haven for the singers who are busy mums with full-time jobs.
A lot of the work they do is for the elderly community in retirement villages and they love it. Georgia admits “… you're never going to feel more like a rock star or more like Taylor Swift than when you perform for the elderly the music of their heyday and the music they adore. They know every word and they're in their nineties and they're up dancing, and they're whooping and hollering, they're yelling for more and they don't want you to leave - it's just such a wonderful experience". Once the lockdown restrictions lift, ‘The Starlets’ are planning to do something special for that community.
One singer who has been a huge inspiration to them is Dame Vera Lynn. The treasured wartime singer singer celebrated her 103rd birthday in March. Her 1942 recording of ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’ made the song famous. The lyrics look forward to the end of war and a time when peace would rule over the iconic white cliffs on England's southeastern coast. Georgia believes it’s “a very timely song” - a song of resilience and hope, and one that resonates with people given the many changes to everyday life during lockdown.
“There is a lot as human beings that we just take for granted", says Georgia. "We take for granted being able to pop over to our neighbours and borrow a cup of sugar, or just knock on our friend's door and pop in and say 'hi' and have a wine. Or there's just the simple joy of hugging. Aren't we lucky to get to be able to hug our parents, or our family or extended family, and those are certainly things that I won't take for granted."
"We're all suffering a little bit in our own ways for the greater good of the community. And I think it's definitely going to bring us together, for sure.”