Over the last couple of years The Reaper's Choir has been making a name for itself both within Gospel and Christian circles and also in other areas. Led by choir director Anu Omideyi this band of ladies has appeared on Songs of Praise and even sung in the Royal Festival Hall. More recently they have been involved with Tru-Life Promotions who put together a compilation of tracks from the best UK Gospel artists and it was at the Gospel Live event where we caught up with Anu and her choir.
So it's the Reapers choir? What is the meaning of the name?
It's a church choir, a bona-fide Church gospel choir, and the ministry of the church, the Christ Apostolic (Bethel) where we all come from is an international evangelical ministry. All of the departments in the church take a theme, the women's group is the harvesters and the gospel choir is the Reapers Choir.
The reason why we are the Reapers Choir is that the word goes out and we go out to reap the harvest unto God.
So what have you been doing recently in that role to bring these people in and 'reap'?
So we have just had great opportunities to be asked to go out and sing in many different places. A lot of the work that we do is to non-Christians. We were asked to sing at Downing Street a couple of Christmases ago by (then Prime Minister) David Cameron. We've have have done a lot of secular events that we have been asked to do, The Royal Festival Hall we were in a choir show and we have a lot of corporate events and so on. So we try to go out into the world and reap the harvest in, but we also do a lot of Christian events as well. That has taken us to the Royal Albert Hall and the Hackney Empire for the BBC Songs Of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year and that kind of thing.
With the reaping part, have you actually seen that bear fruit or is it something you don't really hear of because people take the new converts into their own churches?
That's a really good question really because we see it as Kingdom work, so we're not necessarily focussed on bringing people to our church, but bringing people into the Kingdom. We have seen quite a harvest. A track from our album "Turn Away" which I think was our second single that charted on a non-Christian chart the Official European Independent Music Charts and it was on there for 9 consecutive weeks and we went from 19 to 7 in the charts, it was totally non-Christian, it was international, I think the compilers are based in France. People were voting and that was a Christian track so we consider that to be reaping, because it is reaching non-Christians, even if it was just reaching Christians it's still good, as long as it's far and wide then that's great.
We did a track with Noel Robinson which was to assist with sponsorship for Compassion UK for children, and we had about 65,000 downloads from Soundcloud and most of that was international.
Were you all part of the church or did you come to the church to be part of the choir?
There is a general agreement that they were all part of the church before becoming involved with the choir and that they were looking for a way to actually do something.
Anu added "The church has a real history of music and we have about 3 choirs in the church so this is just the Gospel choir. This is just one of the arms of the church music, we were the poor relation until recently!
Who comes up with the composition, the music, the writing? Do you sing other people's lyrics and songs, or is it a combination?
Well when we go out it can be a combination, but we do have an album and that's all our material. So I (Anu) do all the writing and a couple of the tracks are group efforts.
What are the next things that you are planning, what is coming next?
We are looking forward to hopefully the next single coming out and video, the last one we did was last summer, but we really just take things prayerfully and say, "Lord, just have your way, what's the next step?" We look to Him and say what do you want to do next.
So you're not planning another album or anything?
We will be at some stage soon, but it's not directly in the works right now. We want to push the stuff that we have so being on the Tru-Life Gospel compilation was a really great thing because we are able to introduce a new song, which you wouldn't necessarily know unless you were in our church or had the album, so "Lead Me, Lord" is probably the next song that we are probably pushing out.
Do you tend to socialise outside of the choir as a group of friends, going out for meals and that kind of thing?
We do have weekly practises, plus Sundays as well, but I do think we need to do socials more.
We sing out so much, like in the run-up to Christmas we were out nearly every weekend as a choir so I have to give them a day off!