The three of us were invited to attend and document the launch of ÜBERSONG last night at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff.
Chapter Arts centre plays host to ÜBERSONG, a one-night event where the audience are invited on stage to sing their favourite song, regardless of their vocal ability.
The event aims to get people out of their comfort zone and perform in front of an audience. Choosing a song and taking to the stage can be a daunting yet reflective experience. “It’s something that makes us aware of how we live and shows us how songs can be linked to our identity.” said organiser Yvonne Buchheim. “ÜBERSONG is also about expectations and what happens when we don’t perform to the high standard we set ourselves.”
As well as this, the night showcased a selection of video art pieces and also launched the book for Yvonne Buchheim’s Song Archive Project. It was a brilliant and surreal night. At times hilarious, touching, and thought-provoking.
The premise of the night seemed simple enough — get on stage, sing a song of your choice unaccompanied, feel better about yourself — but it was a long way away from your average go at karaoke. As the book highlights, a lot more goes into the choosing of a song than you might think. Without peer pressure, the influence of alcohol, or really any consequences whatsoever, what song would you choose to sing given the opportunity?
Artist Simon Whitehead sang “Heaven” by the Talking Heads, explaining it was a song he most associated with his teenage years. One audience member sang the Irish national anthem, another a tradition Welsh folk song. The Feral Choir asked the audience to write lyrics for them and then interpreted them in a free-jazz vocal explosion. Some sang funny songs, other sang songs with their own personal anecdotal introductions,…
It was a night of all sorts, but made me think particularly of a comment I had read on The Guardian early yesterday morning. A music teacher at Eton criticised the X Factor, saying it inspired a generation of aspirational singers wanting to be famous, but missing out on the sheer joy of singing; singing as an expression of happiness (or sadness, if that’s your bag)…
He should tell that to those at ÜBERSONG.