Mediaeval Baebes to tour England's cathedrals amid unease over their 'sexy' image
The singers insist that they aren't a Satanic cult
For many, cathedrals provide a retreat for quiet prayer and contemplation. But that is set to change when Medieval Baebes, the all-female "pagan" singing group, notorious for bringing sex appeal to Madrigals, take over England's most sacred halls of worship.
The Baebes, a six-strong vocal group, who perform 13th century devotional songs and poetry in Latin, Middle English and medieval German, bedecked in diaphanous robes, will deliver their unique take on traditional Christmas carols during a Winter tour of cathedrals.
Booking the Baebes is the latest attempt by Britain's cathedrals to capitalise on an attendance boom. The number of people visiting each week has soared by 35 per cent over the past decade, according to Church of England figures. Cathedrals which have made a concerted attempt to reach out to younger members of the congregation have benefited the most.
However the Baebes, whose tour will include Peterborough, Norwich, Leicester and Gloucester cathedrals, have vowed not to tone down their act. A member of the Ely Cathedral congregation resigned in opposition to a performance by the Baebes, who have not received a universal welcome from the Christian community. At a church performance in Rochester, two vergers stood by the stage ready to rush in and cover the girls up believing they would take all their clothes off.
"They wanted to make sure we didn't perform a striptease," Katharine Blake, the Baebes founder and musical director, told the Independent on Sunday. "At Ely Cathedral they thought we were a Satanic cult."
Their image can be misleading. "Some of the girls have been into paganism over the years but they've never been Satanists," Ms Blake promised. "That's something people get into to spice up their sex lives. What we do is showbiz – medieval style."
The Baebes will perform seasonal staples "Away In A Manger" and "Ding Dong Merrily On High". Accompanied by lutes and hurdy-gurdy, they also promise songs "with a more pagan feel" such as Musa Venit Carmine, an ode to the Maypole's fertility rituals.
The classically-trained Blake, who fronted the cult band Miranda Sex Garden and sang backing vocals for Nick Cave, said the Baebes do not seek to shock on stage. "We have a sexy, playful image. There is a lot of excitement when we are all on stage. I like to dress like a fairy princess. We are a bit of a cult but without a religion attached."
The Baebes' tour begins in November and they hope to be invited to perform a song from their Of Kings And Angels album on The X Factor.
Their tour will only enhance the cathedral boom – according to Cathedral Statistics 2012, weekly attendance across 42 cathedrals grew to 35,800.
Cathedrals are also filling the gaps left by youth centres facing funding cuts. Liverpool Cathedral, the UK's largest, has extended its café offering and attracted more than 200 people to a special youth service it called Night of the Living Dead.
Whilst not all members of Ely Cathedral welcomed the Baebes, the venue still packed more than 700 people into its pews last year by showing the opening night of the Olympics on a big screen.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 4 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 5 Snoop Dogg on why he doesn't regret displaying misogyny towards women
Art Garfunkel calls Paul Simon a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Game of Thrones, The Gift, Season 5, Episode 7: Why two of the show’s most iconic characters just met
Eurovision 2015: Estonia seemingly enters Louis Tomlinson from One Direction
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland