The gospel choir performed Stand By Me at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Credit: Kingdom Choir

Meet Karen Gibson, the conductor of the award-winning Kingdom Choir

Author: Lesley Bellew

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The celebrated London-based gospel group are taking their unique sound to sea – and conductor Karen Gibson MBE can't wait to sing up a storm.

You’ll be joining Cunard’s QM2 this autumn. What can passengers expect from the choir?
Love, hope, inspiration and joy is what we’ll be sharing, along with lots of energy! Our choir will be doing four shows in the ship’s Royal Court Theatre, and as well as performing I will be on stage chatting and encouraging everyone to join in. Singing can be very cathartic and we want everyone in the audience to clap, dance and sing. You don’t have to be religious – we just want people to bring themselves along and have a go. Our tours have taken us across the world but this sailing will be a whole new experience. We are going to raise the roof!

What will you be singing?
We’ll include some well- known favourites, including Fix You, Oh Happy Day and Stand By Me, the song we performed for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at their wedding in 2018. There may be a few songs with a maritime theme, too.

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How did it feel to be part of Harry and Meghan’s wedding?
It was a very private and intimate ceremony, but on a worldwide platform. Yes, they are royalty, but Harry and Meghan were like any other couple in love, organising their wedding and wanting things to be just right.

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What will you and the rest of the choir be wearing on stage?
We dress to impress, and at every performance we wear clothes to suit the occasion. We have an amazing stylist – Jeanette Young – so we won’t let the side down when it comes to our stage outfits. I’ve heard that you can never be overdressed for a transatlantic voyage, so bring it on! I’ve heard that you can never be overdressed for a transatlantic voyage, so bring it on!

Kingdom Choir will be joining Cunard's QM2 later this year

Have you ever been on a cruise before?
Not personally, but quite a few of our choir members have done cruises and they tell me it’s an amazing experience. I love the ocean, and the thought of watching the Big Apple rising into view after seven days at sea sounds incredible.

How did the pandemic affect the choir?
We couldn’t perform like we used to, but you can sing anywhere and that’s what helped us all survive. Things are returning to normal now, and I love to see our members getting together once more for rehearsal at our church in Battersea. They leave their worries at the door to sing, laugh, tease and have fun. But we know we’re not the only ones to have been affected by the pandemic.
A woman wrote to me recently, saying ‘You really helped me through Covid. You don’t know how much you have done for me – I listen to your music every night’. That really cheered me up.

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Kingdom Choir is known for its community work – can you tell us a bit about that?
We run regular workshops in southeast London with kids who are said to be challenging in school. We love working with them and we find that music helps with their issues. We are also in the process of launching the Kingdom Gospel Choir Foundation to offer a community connection through music. It will be our way of giving back.

Get on-board
A seven-night ‘Westbound Transatlantic’ cruise featuring Kingdom Choir aboard Queen Mary 2, from Southampton to New York, departs October 18, 2022, from £1,099 including return flight.

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