Upminster soprano star, Joanna Marie Skillett is working to inspire young music minds

Musicians Sophie Biebuyck and Joanna Marie Skillet with pupils from Corbets Tey school

Musicians Sophie Biebuyck and Joanna Marie Skillet with pupils from Corbets Tey school - Credit: Archant

It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for soprano singer Joanna Marie Skillett.

Students having fun on the harp

Students having fun on the harp - Credit: Archant

The 25-year-old, who first started out singing in the children’s choir at Upminster Methodist Church, has performed on stage with Lesley Garrett, been on an extensive tour of Europe and has even performed in front of members of the Royal Family.

Students with West End singer Vicki Ekanoye

Students with West End singer Vicki Ekanoye - Credit: Archant

But now she is giving something back to her community by taking part in a music project with students from Corbets Tey School.

“I think that I have a very unique job, said Joanna.

“I have enjoyed every experience that I have had and want to give something back to the people that have helped me, because I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”


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She added: “Music has the biggest impact on young people and I know my job is done when I see young people standing on the stage enjoying themselves.”

For the next six weeks Joanna will be doing a music workshop with students from the school in Harwood Hall Lane.

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The workshops will culminate in students performing a production called Searching For Sunshine in front of their family and friends.

Joanna has also roped in some of her West End pals to help with the workshop.

These include professional opera singer Sophie Biebuyck, who is partially deaf and musical theatre singer Vicki Ekanoye, who is currently performing to crowds in the West End in The Lion King.

There is also harpist and pianist Melanie Jones and singer Tom Lowe.

Joanna has been doing the workshops now for the last two weeks, but she says that she can already see the change in the children.

“It has been fantastic to see the children develop.

“They inspire me everyday, I have children standing up and singing, but it was only a few weeks ago that they were really shy.”

Joanna’s need to give back to the local community, doesn’t only stop at the young people.

She will be hosting an opera concert called Opera on the Park at the New Windmill Hall, Upminstern on Saturday, June 1, for the whole community.

The funds raised from the concert will go to Corbets Tey School for the summer production, Searching For Sunshine.

She said: “I can’t wait.

“It is like all of my friends coming to my hometown.

“It is just fantastic to have some of the best opera singers in Upminster.”

Joanna landed the dream of a lifetime in 2010 when she popped into the Royal Academy of music to wish her friends the best of luck.

She was studying at the college at the time, but she caught the attention of music management team IMA productions and they were so impressed with her that they made her audition in the corridor.

She then went on to sign a £1million record deal.

She said: “It has been amazing.

“I have had all these opportunities, but I always make sure that I give something back to the people at home.”

She added: “I still live in Upminster and I think that I will always live there because I just love it.”

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