Why, Oh Why, a charity single that aims to raise money for Cancer Research, had its official launch on Thursday September 22nd at the Winchester Hotel, with assembled guests including local MP Steve Brine and the Mayor of Winchester, Barry Lipscomb.
The single, written and performed by Karen Mann, of King's Worthy, was recorded with the help of the Music Producers Group, who stepped in after Karen had difficulty finding a recording studio that would assist her with the project.
Mark Rose, vice-chairman of the Music Producers Guild and owner of Deep Recording Studios in London where the project was recorded and mastered, said: "We were delighted to help Karen and Robbie Hillary, who worked with her as a composer and pianist. We first learned about the project after Scott Walker, from PRS, contacted our chairman Steve Levine to see if we could help find a suitable recording venue. Scott had learned about the project from Karen and Robbie's MP, Steve Brine, who was committed to making this single happen.
"Although this was Karen's first pro-recording session, despite this she gave a fantastic emotional performance on the track recorded along with her very sincere lyrics. This sincerity came across really well because she gave her all."
The story behind Why, Oh Why is as emotional and moving as the song itself. It began in the 1970s when Karen met Geraldine Maria McCready, known as Ged, in the lunch queue at school in Middlesborough. They were both 14 at the time and soon struck up a close friendship that was to last a lifetime.
After leaving school at 16 the pair formed a singing duo called Limelight and travelled the country performing in social clubs and holiday camps. The duo split up when Karen and Ged both married and had children, but they remained the best of friends.
Karen said: "Ged and I would often take vacations abroad together. None of these trips however compared to the ones down good old memory lane and we would often reminisce about the good old days."
Sadly, in June 2010, Ged was diagnosed with aggressive bowel cancer and despite a valiant fight, she lost her battle for life on September 23rd 2010.
Karen explained: "After the diagnosis, Ged's spirits were not dampened and she went about life with more cheer than ever, determined not to let the terrible news get to her.
"She arranged an amazing party for her 53rd birthday last August and all of her friends and family came to celebrate, including many friends from British Airways where she had worked as an air stewardess."
After Ged died, a devastated Karen decided to write down her feelings and her thoughts soon became the lyrics of Why, Oh Why.
She said: "I had the lyrics ready to go, but no music and I didn't know anyone who could help me. But soon after I started a new job at Primark in Winchester and met Robbie Hillary, a Grade 8 pianist who had also just started working at the store. I told him about my song and he offered his services as a pianist and composer. I had a chorus already worked out, and Robbie provided the rest. Within a few weeks we had a song that would live forever in memory of not only Ged, but everyone who has been claimed by cancer."
With the song ready to record, Karen turned her attention to finding a studio. She asked everyone she could think of for help, including her MP Steve Brine. It was his office that contacted PRS, who in turn contacted the MPG.
Steve Brine said: "I was absolutely delighted to help, and I knew that this was something we could make happen. It's a long story believe me, but I had met Scott Walker of PRS at Glastonbury, and he told me he was always available to help out if I needed anything.
"This was just a no-brainer, and I was so pleased we were able to oil the wheels, so to speak. Karen has shown such drive and determination over the past year, and none of us who were at last night's launch could be left in any doubt as to how moving this has been, particularly in getting the CD cut to coincide with the anniversary of Ged's passing.
"Karen and Robbie deserve a tremendous pat on the back for all their work, and I really encourage everyone to click on iTunes and buy the single, or to pop into my constituency 'shop' on Stockbridge Road, where we are selling the CD."
Karen added: "I was determined to get the single out on the anniversary of Ged's death so was delighted when Mark Rose offered Deep Studios, free of charge, during August. The day of recording went amazingly well. Mark was extremely patient and helpful because I was very nervous and we have ended up with a great single that we all hope will raise a lot of money for Cancer Research."
Pictured; Steve joins Karen and Robbie at the piano in the Winchester Hotel, where the single will be played regularly in the bar
Why, Oh Why can be bought via iTunes, with all proceeds going to the charity. If you would like to speak to Karen about the project, you can call her on 07886 048642 or email email@example.com.