Songs of Her Story: special performance celebrates the lives of remarkable women

22 February 2023

The Wren Music Her Story Choir returns to Exeter in March, with a free performance to mark International Women’s Day and to herald the start of our 40th anniversary celebrations.

‘Songs of Her Story’ is an informal show with songs and conversation looking at the lives of the remarkable women featured in each of the songs. Some were first performed in our previous Her Story shows, while others are taken from the extensive archive at Wren Music.

The 90-minute performance is at Theatre’s Alibi’s Emmanuel Hall in Emmanuel Road on Sunday 5 March, starting 3.15pm.

The 40-strong women’s choir comprises members of Wren Music’s community choirs across Devon and have been brought together specially for Her Story.

The project is led by Wren Music creative director Marilyn Tucker, musician Sarah Owen, and songwriter and coordinator, Amy Wilson. The first of the annual Her Story shows was staged in 2016, and it is back this year with a new format and a new venue.

Marilyn said: “Each year, we’ve looked at a particular theme to do with women in history, or women at work. But at this year’s Her Story, we are also marking Wren’s 40th anniversary, so we’ve looked at our archive of songs that we have sung in the past which have relevance and have presented them for the choir to sing.”

Some of the songs have links to Exeter and East Devon, as Marilyn explained. “One of the songs, ‘Girls Night Out’, is taken from a very early project Wren Music did in Exeter, called The Whipton Folk Opera. The project was an appreciation of the history of Whipton in Exeter, which we turned into a story set in the second world war. This particular song is the story of the young local women, living at a time when all the men had been sent off to foreign parts to fight.

“Just think of what lives they must have had, for six years during the war, as they grew from a girl to a woman. So this song is a celebration of how these women enjoyed themselves during the war, whether it was going out and dancing, or buying stockings and shoes, just to get a little bit of fun.”

Another of the songs was commissioned by Devon County Council in 2018 to mark the centenary of Women’s Suffrage. The song looks at the story of Juanita Maxwell Phillips from Honiton, who became the first woman Devon County Councillor in 1931. Marilyn said: “She was quite a force, really, and she continued the fight for all women to get the vote after 1918, not just some women. She did a tremendous amount of good work in Devon.”

The afternoon includes a break for tea and cake, and there will be an opportunity for people to talk with the choir members and the Wren Music team about joining a choir or orchestra. Amy said: “There is a core of the choir that have been in Her Story from the start, but we get new people each year, it’s such a friendly, supportive atmosphere in the group. So we are very much looking forward to performing, and to chatting to people too.”

Tickets are free to book via Eventbrite, with donations welcome at the event. Prior booking is advisable to secure tickets, at