Joe Wilson is a musician and singing teacher. In August 2016, he held a charity concert in aid of Changing Lives to say farewell to the region and the charity that helped him through his difficult times to get him to where he is today. Joe will be moving to London shortly to take the next steps in his career.

Music has always been a powerful friend and asset to me and so it made sense to use  music to say farewell to the North East and to thank a very special charity who helped change my life.

Many people experience difficulties in their personal life. I was one of them. I was unwell, mentally and physically, and completely lacking in motivation to help myself or succeed. I lost my connection with music because I was in and out of hospitals and unwilling to engage with programmes designed to help people such as me.

Then I encountered Changing Lives. The charity provided me with a platform to re-engage with society, but more importantly, gave me the chance to re-engage with myself and discover who I was again. Changing Lives offered me a supportive and safe environment when I was at my most vulnerable and I realised I had so much to live for and so much potential.

They offer a safe place for those who struggle to accept who they are and teach them to love themselves again. They are a helping hand that holds open the door to the world and to a healthy, motivated, life.

The charity provided me with a platform to re-engage with society, but more importantly, gave me the chance to re-engage with myself and discover who I was again.

Since ‘re-entering’ the world, I have been successful in gaining a degree in music, have directed and conducted musical theatre shows across the North East and taught at Newcastle College as a singing teacher and musical director. I get to work with, and inspire, marvellous students who help me give something back to a region that has supported me through my most difficult times.

Music has always been a powerful friend and asset to me and so it made sense to use  music to say farewell to the North East and to thank a very special charity who helped change my life.

My work has also given me the opportunity to give back to Changing Lives. I owe a great deal to the charity and its staff and programmes. In the past I have volunteered as an accompanist to Recovery Rocks, a choir for recovering addicts supported by Changing Lives. I have also helped with the opening of their charity shop in Gateshead, just to try and give something back to them.

This time round, I wanted to support the charity independently, to really demonstrate how far I’ve come since engaging with their services.

My passion for music and teaching is taking me to London as I take the next steps along my career path, and so will shortly be leaving the North East region. I have wanted to take my teaching and music to London for a while because of the vast artistic landscape down there, and successfully applied for the job of musical director and choral leader at Arts Educational schools, one of the leading training facilities for professional performers in London. Being offered this job is a huge honour and a privilege, something I will be eternally grateful for because it’s something I could never have imagined happening four or five years ago.

I was keen to say farewell with this concert, not as an ego indulgence, but as a thank you: a thank you to the hundreds of people I have worked with across the North East. This includes Changing Lives and their programme staff, teachers, lecturers, my own students, musical theatre groups, choirs, my wonderful musicians and of course my friends and family.

Being offered this job is a huge honour and a privilege, something I will be eternally grateful for because it’s something I could never have imagined happening four or five years ago.

The farewell concert, No-one is Alone, was held at Seaham Town Hall on Wednesday August 3. All proceeds were donated to Changing Lives to help the North East-based national charity make lasting, positive changes in more lives like mine.

I am proud of the North East and what it offers from an arts perspective and I will always be grateful to the people who trusted my work and trusted my music, and to the charity that helped me trust in myself and changed my life.

 

WATCH: one of the performances from the ‘No-One Is Alone’ charity concert hosted by Joe (on piano).