John, who lives in West Ashling, explains: “Around 22 years ago I wrote a musical for the school I was working in. I had a very talented brother and sister in the school, Sean and Sarah Smith. I wrote a song for them to sing – One Life One Love. Time passed.
“They entered The X Factor. They reached the final as Same Difference. Time passed. Sean went on to a successful solo career and Sarah opened a performing arts school in Portsmouth.”
John, Sean and Sarah stayed in contact – and then a few weeks ago, Sean and Sarah asked if John could re-write ‘their’ song as a tribute to the NHS and as a fund-raiser for NHS charities.
One Life One Love has now been released, their first single in ten years, featuring 100 young voices from Sarah’s Same Difference studios – all recorded in lockdown, remotely, at home. The song has just made the Radio 2 play list.
John features in the video which can be viewed online on Youtube.
“It’s great that they remember their old music teacher and it’s wonderful that they want to keep public awareness of Covid-19 front and centre whilst simultaneously raising funds for NHS charities.
“The song was originally for a musical I had written for the school, which was based on Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. I did it as a modern teenager thing. The song starts off as a love duet. But Sean and Sarah remembered the song after all these years. Sean was actually in the musical and sang it with another girl. Later on, they did it as a duet. And then we did it at Sarah’s wedding a few years ago. We got the children from her academy to learn it and sing it. And then they said that they wanted to adapt it for the NHS.
“Sarah runs the Same Difference pop academy in Portsmouth. As a result of the success on X-Factor and a lot of touring, she bought an old church in Portsmouth and converted it into her pop academy.
“What I wanted to do with the new version of the song was to get a sense of the thankfulness that everybody feels towards the NHS. We tried to get those sorts of references in without it sounding clunky. And we also wanted to get a sense of the fact that we are all in this together. It used to be ‘One Life One Love Two People Forever’; now is it ‘One Life One Love One People Forever.’
“They did a hard copy of the song, a limited run of CDs and those sold out before they were even available. And now everybody is downloading it and streaming it. It’s absolutely lovely, and there have been some lovely things said about it. They have done a fantastic job of it. They asked me for my old demo of it, and I revisited my old files on my computer. They took it from my demo and their pop producer chap in London turned it into more like a pop video.”
Since retirement, John has been enjoying a second career as the composer half of the musical-theatre writing team Gleadall and Mosse. He is also musical director for Chichester Festival Theatre’s CFT Get Singing Choir: “It’s the community choir and several of them got in touch during lockdown, and so I started a Zoom choir.”