FOR Invercargill retiree Gerrard McSoriley, singing soothes his soul.
In fact, he has sung for an hour, almost every day, since 1994.
So it really should come as no surprise the former “singing butcher” has just released his third CD.
The compilation of songs he loves, Whanau Favourites was recorded in Invercargill with Indigo Recordings sound engineer Geoff Burn.
It features songs from his younger years, including hits like Catch the Wind by Donovan, Go Away Little Girl by Gerry Coffin and My Way by Paul Anka.
For McSoriley, his love of singing began at a very early age. His father was musical and although his mother didn’t sing, she encouraged her children to.
It wasn’t until he was about 6 years old, other people really started to take notice.
“The nuns at the Cromwell convent school I went to stopped during a hymn one day to ask who was doing the harmony – I knew it was me. I was 6 years of age and no-one was teaching me anything.”
He was invited by the principal of the Cathedral Choir in Dunedin to attend lessons once a week – however his family didn’t have the money for it so the lessons were not taken up.
McSoriley’s mother entered him and brother James into a talent quest competition at the Civic Theatre in Invercargill in 1959 – they won.
Although he was never in any band, because he never played an instrument, in his younger years McSoriley would jump on stage and help out with vocals.
“It was usually at about 12.15am and it was usually after quite a few beers.”
But singing had remained a constant.
He has spent a lot of time on stage, performing for the Invercargill Musical Theatre (IMT) company. The highlight of his singing career was performing in Les Miserables twice.
“It was the greatest thing I’ve ever done musically,” he said.
He was set to star again in this year’s performance until Covid-19 put a halt to it but McSoriley was looking forward to performing in it for the IMT next year.
He has also been one of the choir leaders at St Theresa’s Church in Invercargill for the past 40 years.
McSoriley is a father of six children, and enjoys singing along with four of his girls Ruth, Eve, Martha and Josie. Granddaughter Greta (5) is also starting to show singing promise.
The only real time he had to take a break from his daily “fix” was when he had cancer treatment about three years ago.
“When I was sick I had no voice. That was playing on my mind, the fact I couldn’t sing.”
The idea for creating the CDs wasn’t actually his.
He confessed he was sitting on Christmas Day 2015 opening presents with wife Anne, his children and grandchildren, “thinking I really hadn’t got that much this year” when the family handed him an envelope.
It contained a voucher for McSoriley to make his first CD.
“They had saved $20 each a week so that I could do it,” he recalled.
The CDs aren’t about making money, although sales from the first and second had enabled him to put out the third.
It was more about having a legacy so one day, when he wasn’t around, his children and grandchildren could still enjoy him singing.
However, he does have a few followers with about 1000 sales of his previous compilations.
While he’s not singing he is in his second year of studying te reo Maori at the Southern Institute of Technology as well as helping out St Theresa’s School, teaching the children gardening.
No doubt the glasshouse at the school is, from time to time, full of lyrical notes resonating from the vocalist’s voicebox.
The reason McSoriley sings is simple.
“It’s because of not only the pure joy it brings to yourself but the joy it gives to other people.”
- Whanau Favourites is available at Little Fire Music Works, Windsor Stationery and McCallums Drycleaning in Invercargill.