Big Voice Choirs

Big Voice Choirs – Brunswick Heads and Kingscliff

I seem destined to start choirs wherever I go. I grew up singing in choirs – and I love the sound, the spirit, the collective energy, the miracle of creating big music with simple voices.

My choirs work in 10 week terms, four terms a year. They are generally 20 to 30 voices, men and women, and at the end of each term I like to do some kind of performance. Songs range from pop songs (Chasing Cars), folk songs, and increasingly I am writing original material for choirs, or arranging songs by local songwriters.

BIG VOICE talking choir

expect the unexpected!

Janet’s Manifesto

We all know it has been a time of huge change – people have been locked down and watching a lot of interesting and challenging stuff unfold – Brexit, Trump, Covid, Black Lives Matter, Me Too, gender politics, a phenomenon known as “cancel culture”, and tons more. The pandemic has certainly focussed the collective mind about the current global order, and we have been plonked into a new world – we are all in it, but are we all in it together?  How are we going thrive in the future, how can we better collaborate as one human race, on one planet?

Lately I’ve been feeling the urge to get more involved in social change, to be more engaged with what is going on around me, and in the big wide world.  I really want to talk about it all. I’ve never been particularly political, but something is biting at my ankles, and it won’t let go. 

So I thought about marrying the choir/singing work that I’ve been doing for years with some kind of active engagement and it seems logical and exciting to me to start …… a TalkingChoir, a Singing Newspaper, a Street Choir Gang for the Disobedient Amateur!.

God knows I’ve started enough choirs in my life – in many places, for many reasons. But this time I want to create something different,  something more feisty and resilient, imaginative and creative.  In my research I came across a choir in the UK led by old Punk Rocker Boff Whalley – it’s called the Commoners Choir (who say on their website that they are a “strange yet open and inclusive choir….who come from all over the place and try to act more like a band or a gang than a choir.  We sing our own songs about the world immediately around us, about inequality, hope, and Tory politicians.”) 

I love the image of choir as a gang!  albeit a pretty benign and friendly  one, In a way, choirs do function  similarly to gangs in that they have the power to radically transform lives – they really can be powerful communities and my ambition is to build a vocal gang of people who are looking for the same thing – a chance to talk and a chance to act, singing the stuff we want and need to talk about, reaching out of our paradise bubble that is the Byron Shire, making a bit of bloody noise!  Singing about every day life – from the condition of the river to local stories to what’s in the paper this week. Big Voice is a powerful talking community, and much more.

It’s not about pushing a single agenda – it’s not a political choir as such – I don’t think….. it’s about talking together, reaching some kind of easy or difficult consensus – getting to a point where everyone can sing the song with, at the very least, a degree of knowledge and understanding, and at the very most, conviction.

If this idea floats your boat, get in touch!  You do need to have experience singing, and be willing to practice in between rehearsals.You also probably need to expect the unexpected, 

Mondays 5.30pm to 7.30m – Brunswick Heads NSW 

Thursdays 7pm to 8pm – Kingscliff Community Hall

Summer Term: Monday 11 October to Monday 13 December 2021

10 week terms x 4 per year

Cost: $200/$180 per term payable in cash or online via

Musical Direction – Janet Swain (0438965397)

Admin: Wendy Mahoney

Contact Janet for more info
Contact Janet for more info



“I love the choir, it lifts my spirits. it keeps me happy for the week.”

“You can come here feeling terrible, and what we sing is so many emotions. the freedom of the group. I love everything about it.”

“Like opening a bottle of fizz, suddenly all your energy comes out. I feel the energy and th sounds that people make. You can feel it coming right up through my body.”

“Singing just opens me up and grounds me. Janet holds a very beautiful space and lets them open up.”

“I feel free – free to give voice. Makes me feel generous, I want to share. Im not scared, I’m letting go. I love the songs, all the songs are inspiring and uplifting, I laugh and I like them all. They are easy to learn. They are a lot of fun.”

“A wonderful surprise! I feel a real joy. They feel familiar and uplifting.”

“I’m enjoying the experience, a lot of fun, uplifting and inspiring.”

“I love singing in a circle. I love the effect the harmonies have on me. We connect with each other.”

“It’s joyful, it’s fun. You have to listen, and there is improvisation. a lot of freedom and joy.”

“Janet’s joyfulness is contagious! Singing in a circle, the body exercises, the expression takes you out of yourself so that you become more courageous, singing can do that and Janet shows us how. She has all these techniques at her fingertips. A skilled and beautiful teacher.”

“A gentle approach to being freer with your voice, I don’t feel any pressure.”