Musicians harness power of harmony

March 27 2019
Musicians harness power of harmony

TWO folk musicians from Wells are trying to do their bit to heal the country’s divisions with a new song being released in March.

Lorraine and Jeremy Millington formed The Portraits in 2005, since when they have played at Glastonbury Festival five times and gained national airplay for their songs.

Their latest song includes the voices of people all over the UK singing the title, Harmonise, into their phones.

“Like most people, we’ve been deeply affected by Brexit and the divisions it has caused,” said Jeremy.

“When we perform in different parts of the country, we meet the loveliest people, and it really struck us that whatever people’s politics are, most people are fundamentally good and hate the idea of our nation fracturing into tribes fuelled by side-taking. So once we’d come up with the new song, we started asking people online to send us a little video selfie of them saying or singing the title word into their phones. And we were inundated with replies – from all over the world, actually. We set about incorporating each and every one into the audio, and then the video, for the song.”

Lorraine, who is joint chair of Wells Blue School PTA, said: “The response to our call-out was incredible, and when we put all the entries together, we ourselves were bowled over at just how beautiful the resulting ‘national choir of unity’ sounds. We are so proud of the single.”

The idea came about after their 2017 tribute song for murdered MP Jo Cox, Nobody Can Ever Murder Love, went viral on Facebook and led to an invitation to go on Clare Balding’s Radio 2 show to perform it and talk about it.

“We told Clare off-air that we were planning a big, interactive follow-up song based on Jo Cox’s mantra of ‘We have more in common than that which divides us’, using the voices of real people up and down the country,” said Jeremy.

“Music cannot make everything better overnight, but our song is a reminder that we all want peace and security, whatever our views or background: its message is to stop, think again and listen to others – choose harmony over discord.”

The couple moved from London to Wells in 2017 for a better quality of life and good schools for their two children, having originally met as teachers on the Isle of Wight in the mid-1990s.

Guitar player Lorraine is the granddaughter of a talented tin whistle player from Mayo, Ireland, Michael Reilly, who sparked her interest in music-making.

Jeremy learnt classical piano at Bristol Cathedral School, and then went on to do a music degree in Lancaster where he became fascinated by early computer music making.
He describes The Portraits’ music as harmony vocals, in which Lorraine’s Irish roots are evident, with piano, guitar and occasional live strings.

“We have played quite a few times in Frome, Bath and Bristol, and might be performing at a particularly significant event in our area in the summer, which we can’t officially reveal yet,” said Jeremy.

“Our new album, For Our Times, will be officially launched in two events at the end of September: one in London, and the other in Wells, with the exact venue to be announced.”

Harmonise will be released digitally on March 29 on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and other popular platforms.