Hello! My name is Alycia. My parents were born in Jamaica but came to England in their early 20s to work and make a new life for themselves (as British citizens) and so as the youngest of 6 siblings I was born and have lived in England all my life. I have visited Jamaica on a few occasions and while I love the weather, food, culture and entertainment my heritage has handed down to me, I also identify as British because that’s where I live and what I’ve known all my life.
One thing that is probably typical of a Jamaican black heritage is the large family gatherings for meals and celebrations and there’s a whole lot of noise; children/teens messing about, intense conversation and debates in every room, with laughter and dancing while cooking well-seasoned food and singing the favourite tunes from “back in the day”. It is quite loud! I love the whole hustle and bustle of it all and just being surrounded by family.
One of my passions is singing and music. I love singing (with other people - not so much solo!) and ever since I was a child there has been music and singing at home and at church. All of my siblings and I had piano lessons growing up and my dad even taught a few of us how to play the guitar. I’ve been in many choirs and singing groups over the years from a very young age and have performed nationally and internationally.
I sang with a small choir called Aine (pronounced awn- yah, an irish name meaning radiance) and we performed on BBC’s songs of praise in 2014. After moving from Manchester to the Midlands I joined the Birmingham Town Hall Gospel Choir who hold concerts every year and deliver community and arts performances on a regular basis (clip from 10 yr celebration concert). I also sing with B Positive Choir who came together to raise awareness of sickle cell and the need for more blood and organ donors from ethnic minority communities. We sang for the MOBO awards in 2017 and on Britains Got Talent in 2018 made it through to the Semi-Finals and then Finals as a wild card. Our performance of The Greatest Showman’s “This Is Me” spoke for all those who have ever felt dismissed or marginalised by others based on what we look like, where we are from or our medical conditions. This really helped to increase the number of people signing up to give blood and allowed us to share information and help break the silence on what it’s like for people with sickle cell anemia and how blood transfusions can really help alleviate the symptoms.
My work colleagues will all tell you that I often burst into spontaneous singing at the mention of a few words or phrase that relate to a song. I mean, there’s a song for almost every word right?!
Music has helped me “B Positive” throughout the covid lockdowns and restrictions – and kept me moving while I walked one million steps in 3 months as part of a fundraising challenge for Diabetes UK from July – September 2020. I believe music and singing is like therapy and everyone has a soundtrack to their lives even if it is just nature sounds. What’s your soundtrack?
This is me – Alycia Hanson, Project Support Officer, Service Development Team, Trust Headquarters, Stafford.