The With One Voice (Uma só Voz, in Portuguese) choirs, formed by people with experience of homelessness in Rio de Janeiro are still going strong as this TV piece by TVT Network shows. The project, that started through the international Arts & Homelessness Network With One Voice 4 years ago, nurtures and develops the sector in Brazil, UK and a number of different countries, proving that the arts are a powerful tool for social change and the regain of self-esteem and dignity for people with experience of homelessness.
The project was developed in a partnership between the NGOs Streetwise Opera and People’s Palace Projects, supported by British Council, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Macquarie and has as international and local partners (Brazil) the following organisations: Cafe Art (UK), Som da Rua (Portugal), Milk Crate Theatre (Australia), Theatre of the Oppressed NYC (USA), Kamagasaki Arts University (Japan), Sokerissa (Japan), Cardboard Citizens (UK), Manchester Homeless Charter (UK) and Choir with No Name (UK), Secretary of Social Development of the City of Rio de Janeiro, Biblioteca Parque Estadual, Pastoral da Rua, National Homeless People Movement, Public Defensorship of Rio de Janeiro, Agência Redes da Juventude, Circo Crescer e Viver, EMAÚS, Museu do Amanhã, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro
Watch the video in Portuguese below and full English transcript are here:
TV piece on With One Voice choirs in Brazil
Transcription – English
” We’re going to talk now about social inclusion now. In Rio de Janeiro, there is a great initiative happening: the choir Uma só Voz, that brings together people with experience of homelessness. Their testimonials state that, through music, they are leaving invisibility behind”
“Music that brings joy. Music that brings out emotions. The project Uma só Voz, from Rio de Janeiro, brings together people that are or have been living rough to sing in choirs around the city. Since the beginning of 2016, there have been over 70 performances.
Rico [Choir Leader]:
“it’s been crazy, and now in December we’ve been doing practically 2 performances a day. It’s been really great, and it is a tool for social empowerment. We’ve been performing in places we (the people from the choirs) would never be able to have access to. And these people with experience of homelessness are getting into these places, presenting their art, being applauded. It is an incredibly empowering thing”.
“This empowerment is reinforced by the choir’s participants, such as Miss Valeria, who has been living in the streets for over 15 years”
“I feel accomplished, because when you live in the streets, you feel worthless, nobody pays attention to us. But then when we sing, people start talking to you: “oh, I saw you singing…” and I think my little star is shining. I feel like I’m recognised as an artist.”
“This is a space of freedom to make new friends and discover the joys of music, music that gains force through the many voices in the choir.”
“Everybody respects each other, from the moment we get onstage, we have to have a posture, because from the moment you get on stage, everyone is looking at you”.
“For the choir leader, there is a word and a song that define the project”
” Dignity is the word. Giving dignity to human beings. So this person is living as an invisible person and then they are invited to present art to people. They sing, dance, act and then are being applauded for it. Many of them say to me: “I’ve never been applauded before in my life”. We sing a song that expresses it very well. It’s a Beatles song that says” All you need is love”. And we say ” All WE need is love”, because all we need in this world is to love.
“the ones that have already left the streets, have in the choir an extra motivation to keep rebuilding their lives”
” The choir to me today? – it’s part of this new life. It’s the heart of it, it beats and pumps the blood to where it is supposed to go, to the right places. So when I see people experiencing homelessness as I did before, and they’ve see what I’ve achieved and that it is possible for them to try and change things. This is what moves me.”
“The eclectic setlist was performed in Zona Norte in Rio this week. These are voices united through the music that hopefully will spread throughout other places”.