BY JAMES TWOMEY
Sheltered homes for the elderly are not exactly part of the music gig circuit. But for singer Audley Anderson, pictured, who has performed in stadiums and arenas, supporting Omar, Boyz II Men and Tyrese – it is the most satisfying place to sing.
The 2003 finalist of the BBC’s Fame Academy – where he was selected from 30,000 hopefuls – performed at Freeman Court Care Home in Stanford Road, Norbury. And that’s because he knows from experience what a massive difference it can make to the residents – especially after one of his appearances.
“I was singing for the patients and noticed the nurses were buzzing around a particular elderly lady that had been watching,” he said. “I was singing Billy Paul’s song Me & Mrs Jones. “I thought something was wrong – I could see a few tears in the nurses’ eyes.
“They told me the elderly lady was a stroke victim and had suffered from loss of speech. But she sang along to Me & Mrs Jones. The nurses had never heard her voice before.”
He started his circuit of care homes after being invited to sing for the patients at Queen Mary hospital in Roehampton.
“The feeling of serenading the patients and taking them on a nostalgic journey is definitely unparalleled,” he said. “There is literally no feeling like it. I have had the honour of singing in arenas, hotels and ships but being able to put a little something back is humbling.
“The Freeman Court event is close to my heart and designed to put something back into the community where I have lived for most of my life. “I felt it was important to celebrate the foundations of our community.
I also thought if my family ever had to go into a nursing or care home, it would be nice if they would have a seasoned touring soul singer like myself to entertain them.
“My mother, now retired, was a nurse in Croydon for all her working life and cared for mature patients suffering with dementia and Alzheimer’s – so I guess the caring gene is inside me.
“She will be coming along with me to Freeman Court She doesn’t really get a chance to see me perform so this is an ideal opportunity. I’m sure she will be making a tea or two for the audience – she can’t help it. It’s in her DNA.”
The show had visuals to transport residents back to yesteryear. Old TV clips were shown on the screens as he performed songs from the 1960s to more current hits. He also shared his Journey Into Soul – the title of his show – from working at Nestle in the corporate sector to his life as a performing artist.
“I contacted Freeman Court personally, partly because the building is literally down the road from where I live,” he said. “I remember when the building used to be a school – Norbury Manor Boys – we would go in on our roller skates and skate in the playground.”