Last Friday night was an emotional one for Evelyn Smyth, not only because she got to realise her dream of singing on stage for the first time, but she was also reunited with the sister she hadn't seen in over 30 years.
BY Fintan Lambe
Evelyn (55), who was persuaded to sing at the concert in Christ Church, Gorey, by Ray Cullen of the Talk to Tom charity, received three standing ovations during the concert.
She was also invited to sing a version of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' with the Wexford Male Voice Choir and the Trelawnyd Welsh Male Voice Choir which also performed on the night.
'People said the hairs were standing on the back of their necks,' smiled Evelyn. 'It was my first time singing in public like that. Everything I wanted to say all my life was in every song I sang. It gave me the voice I always wanted.'
Evelyn was deeply troubled when she sought help from suicide prevention and mental health support group Talk to Tom, and had contemplated taking her own life, before meeting the charity's chief executive Ray Cullen who put her in touch with the support services she needed.
During a conversation with her, he found out that she had a fantastic singing voice, and had an ambition to perform in public. Evelyn's mother died when she was two years of age, but she had been told she too had a lovely voice.
Evelyn was put into care as a child, and as an adult, entered an abusive marriage. During this time, she lost touch with her sister Yvonne. Ray tracked down Yvonne, who then surprised Evelyn by turning up to the concert with her family.
'It's like my whole world went into one night,' said Evelyn. 'I couldn't even speak. I had no idea she was coming. I got a tap on my shoulder telling me there was someone there to see me. I couldn't even recognise her at first.' After an emotional reunion, Yvonne stayed for the concert, and described Evelyn's performance as 'breathtaking.'
The choir members and the audience were also full of praise for Evelyn's performance. 'I was just so pleased I didn't let anybody down,' she said. 'People said it was the passion in the performance that brought them to tears. I so desperately all my life wanted my voice to be heard.'
Ray Cullen also thanked all who attended.