Few musicians out there have the ability to bathe a room in warmth the way Mollie Ralph does. A local rising star, she’s been charming crowds up and down the country for a few years now, her luscious blend of pop and soul providing the backdrop for a voice that is quite remarkable – it’s depth recalling the likes of Amy Winehouse. Yet this is only half the story; by night, Mollie takes to the stage with all the glamour and glow of Norah Jones, but by day, she works on the frontlines of the NHS as a community nurse...
This unique duality underpins a recent moment of magic from Mollie: #GiveItUpForOurNurses, the dedication of her 2019 single Give It Up to NHS frontline workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. The dedication of this golden track has involved an online fundraiser – which has already exceeded its target – and a seriously heart-warming video composed of clips from Mollie and her band performing the track in their respective homes, and her colleagues and friends singing along. “It was pretty amazing – I had the idea on Sunday, and by the following Friday, it was released,” Mollie tells me. “My band members and I are always up for a challenge, and to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. Thankfully, I am surrounded by wonderful colleagues who support my music, and so were willing to participate by sharing video clips. I actually might need to create an extended version at some point, because I have received so many clips!”
Lyrically, Give It Up could not be more apt. Lines like “I wanna be your hero when the days get rough” and “I’m gonna be your hero when it gets too much” strike an uncanny chord right now, and you could be forgiven for thinking Mollie had penned the song in direct response to the current crisis. “I often have lengthy discussions with my dad about where to take my music next, and we were thinking about ways I could help people with my music right now,” Mollie explains after I ask when the idea for the dedication was born. “The lyrics to Give It Up really lend themselves to how frontline workers and those close to them are feeling. Particularly from my perspective as a nurse – as well as a scared civilian and a musician – it is very true that many of us ‘wanna be your hero’ right now.”
The video has gained over 10,000 views since it premiered on YouTube last month, and it is no surprise – footage of nurses singing into hair brushes sparks joy in the most communal of ways. “Many of us have never experienced anything like this pandemic before in our lifetimes – it’s a huge shift in how we live as a society. So the fact I’ve been able to spread a little bit of joy is brilliant,” Mollies says, overwhelmed by the reaction the video has received. “I think its success demonstrates how we needed a change from the daily doom and gloom. It truly is a wonderful thing to be a part of – to be able to show some recognition for those on the frontline working tirelessly to end this pandemic.”
Particularly from my perspective as a nurse – as well as a scared civilian and a musician – it is very true that many of us ‘wanna be your hero’ right now
While it is a largely cheerful watch, some of the participants’ stories aren’t quite so sunny, serving as a stark reminder of the impact of the pandemic on our community’s most vulnerable. “I knew it was extremely important to remember why we want to be heroes – to protect those most vulnerable in our society,” Mollie tells me. “A number of them appear in the video: Mia, my cousin who has cystic fibrosis; my sister who gave birth at the end of March; and Cibele, a wonderful friend of mine still receiving treatment for cancer. They are the reason why this lockdown is so extremely important – if we adhere to it, we can save lives. It is also a sad reminder of those vulnerable people who have died, and why it is essential we keep working hard.”
On her experience juggling her role as a musician and a community nurse, Mollie reflects: “It has been a pretty intense few years – within the same month, I started my Adult Nursing degree and went to my first open mic night – so both careers have grown together. As a newly qualified community nurse, I provide care for those unable to leave their homes. In times like these, those who are self-isolating are extremely vulnerable, and we are their first point of call. It’s a little scary and puts a lot of pressure on us, especially when we don’t have the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment.”
The crushing reality of the coronavirus pandemic has left no corner of Nottingham unaffected. Even more reason to turn to music for solace and, in doing so, Mollie certainly isn’t alone. Despite the enormous rift that coronavirus has torn in our city’s music community, it is putting up one hell of a fight. “I’m really proud of where I come from right now – a lot of my musician friends are dedicating their live streams to raising money for the NHS or local hospitals, and that selflessness is really wonderful,” Mollie smiles. As far as inspirational acts go, however, #GiveItUpForOurNurses is way up there, and marked by the same glamorous affability that characterises Mollie’s music.