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The Day We Sang the #twitterxmassingle

Writing.ie | Guest Bloggers | Songbook

Derek Flynn

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How one tweet became a Xmas phenomenon

There has been a lot of tweeting of the #hashtag #twitterxmassingle on Twitter over the past few days and I’ve had a lot of people asking me about it and what it is.

On Nov 19, Brenda Drumm sent out a tweet saying “Wouldn’t it be great if we could record a Twitter Xmas single for charity?” Siobhán – the woman who would become her second-in-command – chimed in her support. A friend of mine, Anne-Marie, tweeted “Maybe @derekf03 could help”. “@derekf03″ is my twitter name and that was my introduction to #twitterxmassingle.

I’ve written before about how great I think the Twitter community is and some of the great things it is capable of doing, but nothing had prepared me for this. A charity was chosen: the Neo Natal Unit at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street Hospital, Dublin. (The unit is best known as “Unit 8″ by parents whose babies have needed special care there). Overnight, the idea started to gather momentum. So much so that, on Nov 27 – a mere eight days later – some 140 people from Twitter gathered in the Westin Hotel in Dublin to record the single.

Recording in that kind of environment would be challenging at the best of times. Recording a group of 140 in that environment – some of whom admitted that they weren’t the best singers in the world – was beyond challenging. But Ian Callanan, the producer, and Paul Keegan, the sound engineer, both rose to the challenge. They spent the entire day in the ballroom of the Westin Hotel, first recording the 140-strong choir, then recording the 16 soloists, and finally, recording the string section.

For the following week, all 140 of us were on needles and pins waiting to see how the #twitterxmassingle would turn out. Finally, the word went out. It would be officially launched on the following Sunday, Nov 26. And we were all invited back to the Westin for the launch.

That Sunday we all made our way nervously into the ballroom for the grand unveiling. As soon as the first notes rang out, you could hear a pin drop. At the end of the song, the whole assembled throng of Twitterers rose to their feet in a standing ovation for Brenda and Ian. The single was launched at 2PM; by 10PM that night it was No.1 in the Irish iTunes chart. The following day, the writers and performers of the song – Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson – sent out tweets to say how much they loved the version and wishing the best of luck to #twitterxmassingle.

The amazing thing about #twitterxmassingle is that it was all organised by ordinary people. It’s probably the first charity single that doesn’t feature celebrities. There were a few very well-known celebrities who gave advice in the background, but the people out front were all just regular Joe and Josie Soaps, like me. The musicians who recorded the music, the 140+ choir, the soloists – everyone. It is a brilliant example of what ordinary people can achieve when they set their minds and hearts to something.

You can buy #twitterxmassingle from iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/winter-song-single/id485227782 and follow its progress on Twitter under the hashtag: #twitterxmassingle

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