Brisbane’s Pub Choir founder and director Astrid Jorgensen is used to getting fan mail about the mass amateur choir’s covers of hit songs – but when she was told on Thursday that Kate Bush had emailed about their rendition of Running Up That Hill, she had to call her morning run short and head straight home.
“My manager called me and said, you’ve got to get home, Kate Bush has emailed. I ran straight back – I was literally running up that hill,” she laughs.
“Dear Brisbane Pub Choir,” the message began. “I’ve been so busy that I’ve only just had the chance to watch you all singing RUTH. It’s utterly, utterly wonderful! I love it so much! Thank you everyone. You sing it really beautifully. I’m incredibly touched by your warmth and all your smiling faces. Thank you!”
It was signed: “With lots of love, Kate.”
“It is so wild,” says Jorgensen. “She is the biggest artist in the world right now so to have her say she was moved by our performance, yeah, that is a peak.”
Pub Choir, a communal amateur choir which operates on the ethos that everyone can sing (especially after a pint or two), performed Running Up That Hill two weeks ago in Brisbane. 1,600 people gathered to sing the No. 1 hit, which is back in music charts around the world thanks to its appearance in the latest season of Stranger Things.
Jorgensen and her team had put in a licensing request with Bush’s publishers a while ago to cover the song, and “the response we got back was pretty much, ‘Good luck – we’ll ask, but maybe plan for a different song.’”
Ten days before the show, Bush gave permission. “Even that was a massive deal, the idea that she approved.” And on Thursday, her publishers got back in touch to pass on Bush’s message.
Jorgensen, who arranges the music performed by Pub Choir, can sometimes “feel a bit cursed by songs we cover, as I have had to think about it so much that I won’t want to hear it again for a bit. But I just came to love Running Up That Hill more and more, every time I dug in, it is so complex and unique. So it is very, very cool to have her permission to begin with, then validation that we did okay.”
“I don’t think the younger generation is embracing her music in an ironic way – they really love it. That is what has kept her in people’s lives all this time anyway, this really strange, ethereal, beautiful quality. Running Up That Hill is a bit more complex and layered than the average pub rock song that we usually do. It was a challenging night but the audience did an amazing job – they always do.”
Jorgensen hoped that everyone who showed up that night sees the email. “It is a very good day, and pretty cool for everyone who comes along – they’ve often got these real, average voices and they’re getting this big tick from the artist themselves. That’s the point of the show: everyone can make music.”
July 14, 2022 at 08:37AM Sian Cain