Choir Now!-Singing as a Community

Choir Now!-Singing as a Community

For several months now, dozens of people have been meeting in the upstairs bar of Charleston known as Sam's Uptown Cafe, to sing somewhat impromptu, full harmony songs with one another. 

  Choir Now! WV  meets in the upstairs portion of  Sam's Uptown Cafe , once a month. All attendees learn part of the song of the night, and sing as a group by the end of the night. Photo by  Michelle Waters.  

Choir Now! WV meets in the upstairs portion of Sam's Uptown Cafe, once a month. All attendees learn part of the song of the night, and sing as a group by the end of the night. Photo by Michelle Waters. 

Many of the singers are strangers to one another, never having met before that night, and only sharing their love of singing. But by the end of the short evening, they're all singing as if they've known each other for months, if not years. 

I was lucky enough to catch last month's Choir Now! WV meet up, where we sang "Last Christmas" by Wham!, and had a great time. I was intrigued by where this idea came from, and where it was headed in the future, so I asked Emily Capece, founder of Choir Now! WV, to chat with me. Thankfully, she was kind enough to share her awesomeness, and help me to explain what you might expect when going to a Choir Now! experience, yourself.  

Michelle: What inspired you to start this idea? 

Emily: Informal choirs and community music making has become quite popular in recent years. Toronto has Choir! Choir! Choir! and that was an inspiration for Choir Now! In Charleston. And ...West Virginia needs as much communal joy and spontaneous friend-making as we can get! And Choir Now! is striving to do just that.

 Emily Capece, a choral conductor, music educator, and singer, patiently yet enthusiastically teaches the groups their parts at each Choir Now! meet up. Photo by Michelle Waters. 

Emily Capece, a choral conductor, music educator, and singer, patiently yet enthusiastically teaches the groups their parts at each Choir Now! meet up. Photo by Michelle Waters. 

Michelle: I know when we spoke last month, you'd mentioned there were lots of new faces. How many faces do you usually see each month? And what do you hope people get from attending a ChoirNow WV event?

Emily: We usually have between 30-60 people at Choir Now! Many are returning singers, but we always have new faces. We really hope to attract people who love to sing, but either can't commit to a regular choir, or don't think they are good enough to sing formally. We hope to bring in all types of folks, who don't feel the pressure to perform and be perfect, but instead just want to experience the joy of singing in community.

In addition to live singing, local, multi-talented musician Ryan Kennedy also plays guitar along with the choir. 

 Ryan (Kennedy) and Emily make a great team. Photo by Michelle Waters. 

Ryan (Kennedy) and Emily make a great team. Photo by Michelle Waters. 

Michelle: So has ChoirNow WV been you and Ryan, since the beginning?

Emily: Yes- as soon as I decided I wanted to start this in Charleston, I asked Ryan if he would be my partner in crime. I was so happy he said yes! His talent is unmatched in this area, as is his joy for making music.

As for Emily's musical past? 

Emily: I'm a choral conductor, music educator, and singer, and do this for a living. Choir Now! Is a great challenge for me, as it gives me the opportunity to engage in music with people in an informal way. Sometimes getting together with strangers and teaching a song off the cuff is harder than being in a room of trained singers with a musical score!

And she does a great job at keeping the group engaged, while giving them the tools and space to make really cool music, together. As for goals for 2017?

Emily: As for now, we just hope to spread the word, and get more people involved in this communal music making. We plan on keeping our even to once a month, and are always open to hearing suggestions from our singers!

Songs are always announced in advance. Your only homework is to listen to the song before showing up (so you're familiar with it), and then pay 5.00 upon arrival at Sam's Uptown, to participate and get your lyrics sheet. 

The next Choir Now! meet up is tomorrow night, where the selected song is Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen. Stop by from 7:30-9, and learn how to sing the song with depth, with harmony, and with (relative) strangers, all in one night.

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