How Chickenshed singer Lissa Hermans moved the monarch - and could be the Jubilee No. 1 (From Haringey Independent)
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How Chickenshed singer Lissa Hermans moved the monarch - and could be the Jubilee No. 1
Lissa Hermans is brimming with confidence. Her debut single, a rousing version of God Save The Queen, is out on Sunday and in the running for Jubilee number one. The soprano has also been selected to open the Jubilee Family Festival at Hyde Park and Her Majesty herself can be counted among the singer’s fans.
“I’m a very happy bunny,” admits the 30-year-old, “it’s been a wonderful experience. We prayed that this would happen. It wasn’t definite, but we believed it could happen and it did.”
Lissa is blind and has autism. The 23-year member of the Chickenshed Theatre, first performed our national anthem at a Charles Dickens Bicentenary celebration earlier this year.
Her moving rendition suitably stirred the Queen, who was in attendance, who invited Lissa back to a private reception at Buckingham Palace following the event.
“For the first time as a soloist, just me,” says Lissa, “I was asked to sing the first verse on my own and everybody joined in on the second chorus and then we were presented to the Queen afterwards. It was a wonderful experience and a privilege to perform for her.”
It’s a surprise to hear Lissa’s complete lack of nerves before the monarch, that is until you’ve heard her sing.
“When it got to doing the real thing I wasn’t that nervous, I was more confident. I wasn’t nervous even meeting the Queen. After I sang she came up to me, she didn’t say anything much, just good afternoon, she gave my hand a little shake as well.”
The assured performer heard in full voice on the charity single is a far cry from the nervous seven-year-old who first came to classes at Chickenshed, Southgate’s inclusive theatre company, more than 20 years ago.
“I remember being very scared and apprehensive about it all,” says Lissa, who lives in Enfield. “My mum came with me. I was a clingy girl, I didn’t want to let go of her. I was sitting on her lap and I wouldn’t go to the session until someone gently led me.
“I was hearing lots of different songs and picking up tunes. At the end of the session, much to their amazement, I was led to the piano, and I started to copy everything that they were teaching, and sing everything back. I got more confidence in every session.”
In her time at Chickenshed, Lissa has met Stevie Wonder, who was so impressed by the then 14-year-old he presented her with a keyboard, and also released the only single track from the Diana, Princess of Wales Tribute Album.
When God Save The Queen is released next week, Lissa will become the first person to ever release the national anthem as a single.
“It’s a one-off,” says Lissa. “It’s my only opportunity. I think it’s my only chance of doing it. I don’t think there’ll be another. I’ve taken this chance with both hands. I think I’ve made a very good job of the record so it could reach number one.”
To mark the Queen’s Jubilee year Lissa will open a concert in Hyde Park, The Jubilee Family Festival, on June 2 in front of some 50,000 people.
“I’m very much looking forward to singing in front of all those people,” says Lissa. “I would like as many people to hear me as possible, like any singer. I don’t think I’ll be nervous. I never thought in a million years I’d do this. I think my dream has come true.”
God Save the Queen is released digitally on May 27 and as a physical single on May 28. Details: www.chickenshed.org.uk