Pair join biggest names in pop to record charity single for Christmas

Joe Smithson and Helena Johnson
Joe Smithson and Helena Johnson

Two talented singers from Whitby and district have recorded a charity single alongside some of the biggest stars in the British music industry.

Students Joe Smithson from Castleton and Helena Johnson (20) from Hinderwell were part of a choir who sung He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother – one of the bookies’ favourites to clinch the number one spot this Christmas in aid of the Hillsborough victims.

The pair, along with other students from the Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts (LIPA) Gospel Choir, performed on the Hollies’ song alongside Sir Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, Paloma Faith, Beverley Knight and Rebecca Ferguson.

The track, which is due to be released on 17 December, was produced by world-renowned producer Guy Chambers.

Helena, 20, who is in the first year of a degree in music at the academy after completing a Foundation course in singing last year, said: “We got involved with the song, as Guy Chambers visited LIPA previously and has connections with Paul McCartney who founded LIPA with our headmaster Mark Featherstone-Witty.

“He also was talking to one of our lecturers, Keith Mullin from the band The Farm, about wanting a choir and so Keith suggested the LIPA Gospel Choir.

“I got involved in it last year on my foundation course and have continued with it on my degree.

“We were all thrilled at the opportunity and it was a great experience to be a part of something so big.

“The Hillsborough single is for a great cause and would be amazing if it become the Christmas No 1 of 2012.”

Joe, who is a second year music student at LIPA, a specialist school for the performing arts based in Paul McCartney’s old school, said: “I really loved singing with the college choir on this charity single.

“I love studying in Liverpool. There is a fantastic music scene and the opportunities at LIPA are immense.

“We get fantastic singing tuition and regular master classes with the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Guy Chambers, Billy Ocean and people from music labels.”

Joe’s own band Collectors Club recently released their second single, Wanna Be You while the band’s first offering– First To Know – has scored almost 40,000 hits on YouTube He added: “I am looking forward to coming home to Castleton for Christmas and to play locally again.

“We have a big Christmas gig planned in Middlesbrough on 22 December.”

Called the Justice Collective, other featured artists on He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother also include Melanie C, Andy Brown (Lawson), Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), Mick Jones (The Clash), Peter Hooton (The Farm), (The Justice Tonight band), Chris Sharrock (Oasis), Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze), Ren Harvieu, Dave McCabe (The Zutons), Paul Heaton (Beautiful South), Hollie Cook, Jon McClure (Reverend & The Makers), John Power (Cast) and Gerry Marsden (Gerry and the Pacemakers), with further names to be announced in the coming days.

All artists gave their time for free and all proceeds from the sale of the single will go towards the Hillsborough families’ fight for justice in order to get the accidental death verdicts from the 1989 inquests into the football match tragedy overturned.