Choral singers greet G7 leaders in Cornwall with sea shanties by the sea

10 June 2021, 12:20

Choral singers greet G7 leaders in Cornwall with sea shanties
Choral singers greet G7 leaders in Cornwall with sea shanties. Picture: Reuters

By Sian Moore

World leaders arrived at the G7 Summit to the welcoming sound of sea shanties and local Cornish songs.

As world leaders gather on the south west coast of England for this weekend’s annual G7 Summit, some are being welcomed with sea shanties and songs from a traditional Cornish choir.

Standing on the Prince of Wales pier in Falmouth, the Bryher’s Boys choir serenaded onlookers with the folk song ‘Lamorna’, a traditional song associated with the southwestern county.

The 11-strong ensemble, who specialise in sea shanties and Cornish music, use a trademark style of free harmony to achieve that beautifully sonorous sound (listen below).

UK prime minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be among the figures attending the summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, from 11 to 13 June.

Read more: Musically, what is a sea shanty? The history behind the songs flooding TikTok

Speaking to news agency Reuters, choir leader Trevor Brookes said: “Cornwall has a tradition of these sorts of songs.

“The miners and the acoustics down in the mine helped choir singing, and that’s where the traditional Cornish singing came from.

Brookes continued: “And then... we’re surrounded by the sea, so mariners, fishermen and all that, so it is a natural link for us to sing both those two genres.

“It’s a passion for all of us, we enjoy singing, we enjoy performing and putting smiles on people’s faces.”

Read more: Pianist gives viral sea shanty ‘The Wellerman’ a ragtime spin and it’s wonderful

Sea shanties are a type of collective ‘work song’, typically performed on ships by fishermen, merchant sailors or whalers to accompany laborious tasks like sail-hoisting and deck-scrubbing. They often use a steady beat to help unite sailors in one rhythm and lighten the load of their chores.

This style of song goes back a long way, but has recently had a resurgence on the Internet. Postman Nathan Evans started singing the folk songs in his bedroom in Scotland and posting them to TikTok, unaware his videos would lead to a viral shanty renaissance, and a record deal for himself.

The Bryher’s Boys will perform at the upcoming virtual International Sea Shanty Festival on 19 June.