Laura Cartledge meets the women who use music to time travel.
Pictures: James White
Karen Etherington admits if she could wear a 1950s dress ‘all day, every day’ she would.
Thankfully as a member of vintage singing trio The Silhouette Show the frocks are just part of a very fun wardrobe.
And fashion even played a part in their name selection.
“We looked for a really long time, everything was ‘belles’ and we wanted something different,” she recalls.
“Silhouette came from the look of the era, and the lights of the blitz. It is a bit random but it worked, people liked it so we stuck with it.”
Despite having all worked together in the past on different projects, the current line up of Bognor based Karen, Tangmere’s Chloe Wren and Worthing’s Sarah King, only came about in April.
“It is the gel of the three of us which makes it work, we have fun as well,” reveals Karen. “It is so important, just because three people can sing doesn’t mean they can sing together.”
This combination is essential, not only because performing across the country means a lot of time is spent together but as it means they have the talent to tackle the range they want to.
“We stick to vintage. We have noticed some groups will stick to a decade within that but our main show is a complete mix,” she admits, adding they like to take the audience ‘on a journey’ starting with The Andrew’s Sister and ending with a sing-a-long.
“People say ‘oh a sing-a-long’,” Karen sighs, “but every single one has been brilliant.
“In the second half we do more Motown, upbeat songs you can jive to, so people can get up and dance.”
The ongoing interest in vintage means there is big demand for themed events too and the group love them all – whether it is a forties evening or a rock and roll night – as it often gives them a chance to learn new material.
“There is a lot of interest for it, it’s proper music,” she says simply. “Whereas what is out now is very produced.
“I think it is having a peak at the moment because it is all the anniversaries but I feel it has reached a point where it will stay on.
“We put a lot of work in things, like
getting the harmonies right take a lot of time,” reveals Karen.
“We like the creative side and putting it together but we like the other end too – seeing people enjoying it.”
And the appeal spans all generations.
“We will do a show for veterans and then we will go to a street party and the children will come up and ask for our song sheets so they can sing along,” she agrees. “I think it is important we remember those times.”
This passion is the reason The Silhouette Show made the decision early on to keep true to the classics.
“It is about being able to stand up in front of veterans that were there the first time,” Karen confesses.
“It is very important to us to be as respectful and as authentic as possible.
“We work very hard to recreate the close three part harmony sound of the era, and when we see smiling faces, toes tapping and receive positive feedback it makes it all worthwhile.”
In fact, Karen admits, it means it isn’t ‘work’ at all.
“As soon as we start singing, rather than being the start of the job it is the start of the enjoyment,” explains Karen.
“We just want to perform as much as possible, it is uplifting.
“We go all over, we will go abroad if someone will have us,” she adds with a smile.
“We performed at the Novium which was cool, it was just so different to what we had done before, although we had to be careful with our sound levels because of the artefacts. But we are as happy in someone’s back garden as we are anywhere.”
About the shoot
James White, who was Karen’s wedding photographer, was chosen for the shoot to showcase The Silhouette Show’s new lineup.
Southsea was picked as the location thanks to its variety of backdrops which could suit the different eras and the day was spent ‘jumping in and out of the cars and getting changed by the road’.
“The carousel was great fun, we went for a ride but it was too fast so we ended up asking if we could just use it for a while – we paid the guy and it was quiet,” she laughs. “James was standing there taking pictures with all of our cardigans over his arm.”
To find out more about The Silhouette Show, visit www.vintagetrio.co.uk and www.facebook.com/TheSilhouetteShow. More of James White’s work can be seen at www.jameswhite.photography