Carol Prior’s All Choired Up

By Caf Fean

Monday June 7th brought in a new high note to Hastings’ LGBTQ+ folk, heralding the first in-person meeting of All Choired Up, a community formed online during the first lockdown thanks to the tenacity and sheer bloody-mindedness of choir leader Carol Prior with support from Good Stuff in St Leonards. Finally, the group can now meet in real
life, albeit under government restrictions of six people singing at any one time. I caught up with Carol to find out a little bit more about her life, times and choirs. 

“I moved to Hastings in 2006 – my partner at the time lived here. It felt like home more than Brighton and even London. Born in Stepney, my cockney side often comes out: I don’t play by the rules – sometimes loud and outspoken. Of course – I come from a long line of people who had it hard. My ancestors wouldn’t recognise the life I’m living: a life with masks.

“What really gets my goat is that football matches are going ahead, with throngs of people singing together: there are two million amateur choirs in the UK. People are allowed to sing if they’re professional, but not amateurs. Things only really change when the oppressed rise up – it’s my right to sing in a choir with people in real life. It all feels like a Monty Python sketch.”

Carol has had a colourful life, full of challenges and triumphs over adversity. Setting up a choir in lockdown is another feather for her cap. “The Hastings and St Leonards LGBT community is growing – we are at a really good place because we’re a much more diverse and younger community. LGBT people are moving to the town – there is a need for the community to continue, support itself and grow. It’s not just a haven for retired folk and cheap housing for artists.”

Having lived here since 2006, the time felt right to take up the mantle and bring an LGBTQ+ choir to the town. “I got into teaching singing as opposed to being a singer – I did one-woman shows in 80s with my own repertoire – it was funny, comical sometimes quite angry. I had a really great opportunity to sample life over the pond in the US, where I attended a lesbian festival in Michigan. Having intended to stay for six weeks I ended up staying for six months. On returning I decided I’d be a singer/ songwriter.  However, I ended up teaching people who think they can’t sing to sing. There has always been a tension between the entertainer and the teacher in me. Being a performer can be a lonely, soul destroying life – lots of egos around – my ego isn’t big enough. Get easily set back.

“It’s a performance every time you teach singing. Join a choir! It’s the closest thing to heaven – it’s full of one-offs. The underlying thing is that it’s soulful, kind and inclusive. We’re not saints, but there is a spirituality to it. I’ve just got this feeling that it’s something to be really proud of – it takes longer to grow something here. Once grown, It’ll be here to stay.”

All Choired Up meets at St John The Evangelist Church, Pevensey Road 7.15pm on Mondays.

The group is open to newbies, so come along, sign up and sing with your people!

For more information, please visit goodstuffinstlens.com/all-choired-up


We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. You can also support local journalism by becoming a friend of HIP. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.