It was announced today, 95 years after the first-ever meeting of the Women’s Institute in the UK, that five very special talented singers and members of the WI have been chosen to form The Harmonies with a record deal with Universal Music, who are investing one million pounds. Their debut album ‘Voices of The WI’ will be released on 25 October 2010 on the same label as Lady Gaga, Sugababes and Cheryl Cole.
In one of the most spectacular and instant arrivals in music history, The Harmonies will appear on billboards around the UK from 17 September as part of a campaign with Marks & Spencer, followed on Saturday 18 September by their first-ever public performance as part of the Prince Of Wales’ eco-festival ‘A Garden Party To Make A Difference’ on the stage in Friary Court, part of St. James’ Palace.
The search for the five members of The Harmonies began in February when a call to entry was distributed to all 205,000 members of the WI in the 6,500 WIs across the UK via their magazine, WI Life. Met with an impressive number of applications, the judges began the difficult task of selecting the entries.
Including a staggering 600 renditions of Jerusalem, the entrants were reduced to a shortlist of 30 brilliant finalists. That 30 were invited to the legendary Abbey Road Studios on 18 June 2010 to perform live in front of a panel of judges that included Ruth Bond, chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes and representatives from the production company behind Pixie Lott and The Waterboys for the final audition.
On 9 July five very different multi-generational women with complimentary vocal styles, from across the UK were told that they had been chosen to be the part of the first-ever group formed exclusively of members of the WI, The Harmonies. Since that date, in total secrecy, they have been ensconced in the recording studio, making videos and taking part in their first ever photoshoot. Finally today the five women are revealed as:
Doreen Connor – aged 41 – Primary School Teacher
Born Dalmellington, East Ayrshire. Lives Tutshill, Gloucestershire. Member of Tutshill WI
Gemma Waznicki – aged 26 – Project Officer in Crime Prevention Strategy
Born London. Lives Bow, East London. Member of East End WI
Jan Mason – aged 54 – NHS Team Secretary
Born London. Lives Rainham, Kent. Member of Wigmore WI
Jennie Mantell – aged 35 – Dispensing Optician
Born and lives Tamworth, Staffordshire. Member of Mile Oak, Tamworth WI
Naomi Willmott – aged 37 – Hospital Administrator
Born Warmley, Bristol. Lives Bristol. Member of Bitton, Bristol WI
The debut album ‘Voices of the WI’ by The Harmonies will be released on 25 October, and brings five voices together in harmony on classics such as Wonderful World, Dream A Little Dream of Me, You’ve Got A Friend and Imagine as well as two brand new tracks and a unique reworking of the famous song of the WI, Jerusalem.