Paid for by American Express
One day early this year, Kristina Loudon heard a familiar tune coming from her kitchen.
“Who was it that said nothing can capture a heart, like a melody? Well, whoever it was, I'm a fan,” says Kristina, whose babysitter, Georgina Castle, was singing to her then two-year-old daughter Sierra.
A lover of the arts who has enjoyed numerous live performances throughout her life, the mum instantly recognised the song and became mesmerised by the sound of the woman’s voice.
Kristina didn’t know it then but that intimate performance would end up changing her life forever.
We’ve partnered with American Express to celebrate unexpected moments when life takes you by surprise and sends you on a journey that gives you a lot more than you expect... here’s Kristina’s story.
Passion for the arts
“Georgina came highly recommended by friends as a babysitter and I knew she worked in musical theatre – but I was floored by her singing,” Kristina says.
“When she had finished, we sat down for a long chat. That conversation was one of those moments that takes your breath away.
“Georgina has such incredible talent that I couldn’t believe she was here singing to my family.”
During their conversation, the singer mentioned the struggles of finding work during the pandemic. Kristina wanted to help Georgina and other talented performers by providing an alternative way for them to share their craft with more people.
“I like to solve problems, it’s a natural part of my personality,” says the mum.
“So I asked myself: ‘how can I get these talented people in front of others like myself – families, people in care homes or anyone who loves entertainment but can’t get to the West End?
“There were opera singers stocking shelves in supermarkets, others were delivering takeaways and people had no idea that they might have just been served by a classically-trained opera singer.
“I wanted to find a way to help them get back on stage – even if it didn’t look quite like what they were used to.”
The solution came in the form of Street Theatre, a digital company that focuses on affordable short musical performances across the UK, bringing entertainment to people’s homes and doorsteps.
Kristina reached out to artists, dancers, singers and musicians who were between contracts, signing them on to perform at private events and to give them a chance to share their skill and passion.
Her own daughters, Sierra and one-year-old Savannah were also involved.
“We had so many ballerinas, opera singers and musical theatre singers show up at our door to sing or dance for us – my eldest, Sierra, loved it,” says the mum-of-two, who is married to husband Alex, 41.
“It has been the most incredible experience for me to watch her fall in love with ballet and music over the past year.
“For Savannah, certain songs bring out the biggest smiles in her, and can even stop a tantrum in a second.
“As a mum, I love to watch the expression on their faces as they listen to an aria or a classical piece.
In a way, the mum also rewarded herself by being able to immerse herself in the world she loved so much.
Describing one of the very first events, and the reaction from the audience, Kristina adds: “The reactions were very raw and emotional.
“Many people, including those isolating or shielding, had been starved of any kind of live performances for months so when they began singing whole neighbourhoods were coming out to listen,” she says.
“There were a lot of happy tears on both sides.
“Knowing that you are doing something that brings that much happiness only inspired me to work harder to make it a success. I wanted to try to bring people a little light in the darkness.
“I definitely got more than I could have ever expected and I’m so happy about it.”
American Express Services Europe Limited has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.