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East Aurora priest virtually lends voice to British choir during COVID pandemic

Mother Ann Tillman of St. Matthias' Episcopal Church is featured on several new releases from England's Sweet Charity Choir.

EAST AURORA, N.Y. — What does a priest do to pass the time during a pandemic?

For Mother Ann Tillman of Saint Matthias Episcopal Church in East Aurora - sing! 

Tillman has always loved music - she was a music major at Cornell University - but 2020, it became a form of escape. 

"It has helped me to balance my over-worked church life," she told 2 On Your Side. "But at the same time, to be inspired."

Her main source of inspiration? The Sweet Charity choir. Mother Ann recently joined the British singing group after watching one of their virtual concerts.

"I can't say enough good about it, it has changed my life," she said. 

Mother Ann first became acquainted with Sweet Charity Choir in pre-Covid days. She met one of its members, Louise Johnson, during a trip to the U.S. in 2019, and on a whim, decided to go see them perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City. 

"It was an extraordinary concert," Tillman said. "It was one of the most incredible nights of my life."

Fast forward to a little more than a year later, she's a full-fledged member of the group. She rehearses online with other singers from all over the world, and can be seen in the sea of faces singing on their song releases, which each benefit a different charity group or cause.

"We don't have professionals that are singing with us, they haven't been trained at university, they haven't performed, some people haven't even performed ever," said the group's founder and director, Jenny Deacon. "We're just a group of normal people that want to spread love and happiness around the country, and around the world."

Deacon composed their holiday song, "Christmas of Hope," to support the plight of musicians during the pandemic.

"Because musicians are just in such a terrible position right now," she said. "It's not just to spread hope for people, but also to try and shine a light on our lovely musicians who keep us sane."

Back this side of the Atlantic, Mother Ann hopes that message rings just as true.

"I just want people to hear that, and to support musicians, to love their musicians," Tillman said. "Because musicians are the ones who have the key to giving us hope."

A Christmas of Hope is available to download on Amazon by clicking here

More information about Sweet Charity Choir is available on their website and Facebook page

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