Universal Records is to launch a five-piece female group drawn from members of United Kingdom voluntary organization the Women's Institute (W.I.), which it hopes will storm the U.K.'s Xmas charts.

The music major will award a multi-album record deal worth £1m ($1.5m) to the five singers selected to be part of the group, set to be entitled the Harmonies, according to a statement from the label.

Band members will be drawn from an on-going audition process, which has already seen over 600 applicants submit demo entries to London-based production company Hot Source, who devised and is managing the project. 30 applicants were then selected to perform live at London's Abbey Road studios in front of a panel of judge consisting of Hot Source founders John Farmer, Philip Tennant and representatives of the W.I.

Following the live auditions, which took place last month and were filmed to be broadcast in a future documentary, the judges have now begun the process of selecting the final five band members with the final line up due to be announced in September.

The Harmonies' debut album "The Voices Of The W.I." is set for a fall U.K. release via Universal, with touring and international release plans set to follow should the project prove successful, Tennant tells Billboard.biz.

"The album will start off as W.I. project but we're hoping that the band will have a life of its own," Tennant explains.

"The long-term plan is that the Harmonies has a fully-fledged career. This is not intended as a one off," he goes on to say, adding that the decision to partner with Universal to release the band's music was made because "we thought that they were the best company to do this kind of act."

Although track listing for the band's debut studio set is not yet confirmed, Tennant tells Billboard.biz that the album will contain a mix of material dating from the 1940s to the 1970s, as well as original compositions. The record will also feature a cover of long-standing W.I. favorite hymn "Jerusalem," which is traditionally sung at the beginning of each W.I. meeting. The band is yet to sign a publishing deal.

Identifying the band's target demographic as female, 18 to 85, Tennant went on to say, "My feeling is that the W.I. is like the heartbeat of the nation, so if they like it I think the rest of the country will like it."

Formed in 1915, the Women's Institute is the largest women's organization in the U.K. with over 205,000 members. Initially devised as a social group to encourage women to become involved in food production during the First World War, the W.I. now promotes a wide number of social, community and educational issues throughout the United Kingdom.