December 2019 – Looking Back on a Busy Month

Mae Challis performing at the Christmas Charity performance for Graih, IOM

December certainly was a busy month!


It began with the first of a number of rehearsals for ‘Manannan’s Winterfest’ a unique concert that celebrates Manx Christmas traditions through a collaboration of the Island’s finest exponents of music, dance and drama! I could tell from the very first run through that the concert was going to be a very special evening!

Mae challis Winterfest 2019

I then had a ‘double whammy’ weekend! First oon the Friday was a solo performance at Bonds restaurant in my home town of Onchan (IoM). Bonds have asked me to play at their themed evenings once a month and it’s a fun challenge for me to learn specific songs to go with the themes! I’d already played at their ‘James Bond 007’ evening and so for December it was ‘Jazz Night’ which I loved! Future themes for 2020 will be ‘Peaky Blinders’ and ‘The Beatles’ so I’m really looking forward to those!

Second up was Saturday night at Compton Vaults in Castletown (IoM), the first of two December bookings in this good old fashioned gig in the basement of an old building in the centre of town! I always love playing Compton Vaults, it has a great intimate atmosphere and the owner Juan is such a fantastic supporter of local music, something I obviously appreciate and also support!

Soon after, I had the pleasure of being invited back to Manx Radio for a really enjoyable interview with DJ Marc Tyley! Marc and I talked every morning for four days about my London recording trip, my new and old songs, gigging on and oIsland, favourite gigs of mine and favourite gigs as part of the audience, as well as playing a song of my choice each day and the reason behind each choice!

Then came ‘Manannan’s Winterfest’ at the amazing Gaiety Theatre (IoM)! I’ve had the opportunity to perform on the Gaiety stage before and one of the most memorable was when I won ‘The Next Big Thing’ competition when I was 15! I’d been so busy up to the actual night of the Winterfest concert that I hadn’t really thought about it much, but when it came time to go on stage to sing my first song, the beautiful ‘White Christmas’ I realised I was quite nervous! But gazing up at the lights and the beautiful painted ceiling and hearing the orchestra spark up with the intro, my nerves just disappeared! Getting to sing Christmas songs in front of a full orchestra and joining in the Festive spirit with a sold out audience was truly magical! I hope they’ll have me back again next year!

And talking of singing in beautiful places, I was invited to perform 3 Christmas songs of my choice for the Graih Charity in the stunning St Ninian’s Church (IoM). Graih is Manx for ‘love and charity’ and they provide a free drop-in for food, drinks, clothing, a safe social space and emergency overnight shelter for the Island’s homeless. It was more than a pleasure to give my time and perform for such a worthwhile cause and with mince pies, mulled wine and gorgeous music, who could ask for more at Christmas!

Aside from music, I was so excited to join the ‘Santa’s on a Bike’ charity event where the Island’s bikers, including me for the first time, dress as Father Christmas and take to the roads! Literally hundreds of Festive clad bikers complete a lap of the TT circuit to raise money for the Rebecca House Hospice Charity. It was great fun and such an absolute pleasure to have be a part of it! If there’s ever a right time to care and share, it’s at Christmas time!

Hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and the New Year will treat you well.

Until next time!

Love Mae x

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