MUSICAL FUN: Members of the Gympie Songbirds have a blast rehearsing at the Gympie Senior Citizens Centre on any given Tuesday.
MUSICAL FUN: Members of the Gympie Songbirds have a blast rehearsing at the Gympie Senior Citizens Centre on any given Tuesday. Donna Jones

Gympie Songbirds always on song

IF YOU have been to a community event like the Volunteers Morning Tea, The Community Bus Concert or visited a loved on in one of the aged care facilities in Gympie, then the chances are you've seen the Gympie Songbirds in action.

Leader of the singing group, Audrey Gwilliam said they didn't take it really seriously.

"We do it for the fun of it. I just love singing!” she said.

During the 15 years she has been with the group, she has seen members come and go.

"It dropped right down to only six members at one point,” she said.

"Now we've got 22 members on the books!”

Audrey is quick to assure people the Songbirds aren't a choir.

"We're just a group of people who love to sing,” she said.

While even longest serving member, Jack Murray who has been with the group for 17 years, can't agree when they started, there is a general consensus the singing group is at least more than 20 years old.

"We started singing to visitors who would come from other senior citizen's centres,” Audrey said.

"These days, the oldies can't afford to travel,” she said.

And with the buses no-longer coming, they decided to take the show on the road and regularly travel to all the nursing homes in the area, dressed in white with gold sequined vests, hats and cumber-buns to bring joy to the residents there.

Their performances are lively and fun with a mixture of old standards, poetry, parodies and even the odd skit or two bringing smiles and laughter everywhere they perform.

And while they may not win prizes with their vocal ability, their enthusiasm and obvious joy of performing is infectious.

Jack Murray is not only the longest serving member of the group, he is also the oldest member, at 89 years of age and for him, performing has been a way of life.

"I used to sing in a Barbershop choir for many years. And I sang at the church for more than 20 years, up until four or five years ago,” Jack said.

"For me, music is the best therapy.”

Jack said what he really loved doing was harmony singing and spoke about the time he burst into song and made a woman's day.

"She was obviously unhappy about something. I sang to her until she smiled,” he said, and broke into a haunting rendition of the old show tune.

Jack may be the oldest member, but the distinction of being the youngest member goes to 59-year-old Ros Welton.

Audrey said that is the beauty of the group; there is no age limit and anyone can join.

The Gympie Songbirds meet every Tuesday at 2pm at the Gympie Senior Citizens Centre.

If you would like to see the Songbirds in action, they will be performing at the Seniors Week Concert and Morning Tea at the Gympie Civic Centre on Friday August 19, starting at 2pm.

Gympie Times


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