Voices of Kentuckiana

Fresh VOICES of Kentuckiana

chorus-baLast weekend we had a chance to catch up with a few of our Fresh VOICES, singers who are brand new to VOICES of Kentuckiana or are returning this semester after a hiatus. We had a great time getting to know these wonderful folks, and can’t wait to share the stage with them in December for our winter program, Holiday Magic!

 First up was Thomas Edison (really his name!) who comes to us from Baltimore. Thomas has been singing for thirty years, but his upcoming performance in Holiday Magic will be his first time performing with a group. After hearing about VOICES from a friend with the Baltimore Men’s Chorus, Thomas decided to join VOICES when he moved to Louisville because he wanted to meet like-minded people with a passion for music and the arts. “I’m happiest when I’m able to express myself creatively,” says Thomas. “But my number one goal with VOICES is to become a visible example of the power of LGBTQ groups to touch people’s hearts.”

 Next we met Autumn Norwood, whose family swears she’s been singing since she could make noises. Autumn began singing with a group back in middle school, and with encouragement from friends and family decided to join VOICES because she wanted to sing in a chorus again. “This seemed like the right group, very welcoming and encouraging,” says Autumn. When she’s not singing, Autumn enjoys a good book and says she’s inspired to sing by the people around her. “I’m really looking forward to the overall experience,” says Autumn. Holiday Magic will be Autumn’s first time performing with a group since high school, and we can’t wait to join her on stage! gdl-voices

 Finally we caught up with Morgan Houlette, a veteran of choral singing and welcome addition to the VOICES family! “A good friend of mine, Lorna, encouraged me to start singing again,” says Morgan. “She thought that joining VOICES would be a great idea!” Morgan loves Christmas music and can’t wait to share some of her favorite tunes with audiences for our winter program. “I’m excited for new, unique music as well,” she says. Many people have inspired Morgan to pursue singing. “My old chorus teacher, and my mom and dad are among the biggest inspirations,” Morgan says. “Most recently, my girlfriend inspired me to sing. She always supports me and encourages me to sing. She knows how much I truly love it.”

Make plans now to attend Holiday Magic on December 6 and 7 at the Clifton Center Eifler Theatre! More information and tickets available here.

VOICE of the Week – Deena Grimm

april-phto-shootWe hope you’ll join us in congratulating this week’s VOICE of the Week, Deena Grimm! Deena’s been with VOICES for 5 semesters now, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that she’s found her musical home and family with us! Let’s get to know Deena a little better!

What is your occupation or how do you occupy your days, usually?

I am a Correctional Unit Administrator at the Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women in Pewee Valley.  Basically that means I am an assistant Unit Director, with authority over 1 housing unit.  So I spend my days overseeing a housing unit of up to 78 women, with one wing of serious/long-term medical inmates, 1 wing of contract inmates from county jails (usually sent to us because they’re pregnant and the jail can’t take care of their medical needs while they are pending trial), one wing of serious mental-health inmates who can’t be housed in general population (temporary or long-term), one wing that is a program for teaching the inmates to manage their mental illness, and one wing that is mental-health transition to the general population.

Outside of that, I am an avid reader, and student of natural horsemanship, which means I spend a lot of horse-time doing things that regular horse people think is stupid, crazy, or pointless, but is extremely rewarding.  I enjoy spending as much time as I can manage playing with my horses, but that’s been not nearly enough time lately.

In one sentence, let us know what VOICES means to you.

A musical home; this is the first singing group I’ve joined that I’ve stayed with for more than 2 years, because it is just a perfect fit.

We all know you love to sing but what is your hidden talent? 

My husband calls me the “pack-mistress” because I can generally get a ridiculous amount of stuff packed in a vehicle for a trip, and leave comfortable room for all the travelers as well.

Tell us about a favorite moment from a VOICES concert or event?

Creating a video of “Lean on Me” for the It Gets Better Project.  I still get a little choked up when I watch what we created and think about what it means….

What’s the best song you’ve performed with VOICES and why?

Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen.  It’s not necessarily the highest quality or most beautiful piece we’ve done, but it was the first piece I picked up on my first day with the group.  Not some boring old classical thing that every chorus sings, but something that out there and cool.  I knew right then I was going to love this group!

What’s the best piece of singing advice you’ve ever received?

Be confident – sing out like you are dead certain you’re going to get those notes; often you are right on it even when you’re worried you won’t get it.

 

VOICE of the Week – Gregory L. Sopko

greg-sopkoGet to know another long-term VOICES member, Gregory L. Sopko, this week! Gregory has been singing with VOICES since January of 1996, and we’re so grateful to have him as part of our community!
Tell us your name. Gregory L Sopko
What is your occupation or how do you occupy your days, usually?  I’m a clerk at Kroger, in a different department each day. I’m all over the store!
In one sentence, let us know what VOICES means to you.  VOICES, and this wonderful community of singers, has helped me over the years to become more  comfortable with who I am.
What prompted you to become a member of VOICES?  I was just really coming out as being gay in 1996, and wanted to becoming part of a community. When I moved to Louisville a friend told me to look for an activity or organization in the gay community that I would enjoy. The rest is history!
What has been your favorite VOICES concert or event?  My first GALA in San Jose, CA.
What do you hope to see for VOICES in the future?   I hope we continue to grow, become even more diverse, and touch many more peoples’ lives.
What would you tell young people who are looking for ways to get involved in their community?   Just do it. It may take you a while to find the right organization or group, but even if your first experiences don’t work out, you will be  glad you tried and wonder how your life could have been complete without it!

The Man Behind the Music

1797404_10152324785926382_229535003113760496_nFor the last 20 years, VOICES of Kentuckiana has been proud to be an inclusive community chorus that accepts all comers and finds a place in the family for every individual. Now, VOICES is accepting a new family member —Artistic Director Jeff Buhrman! We are looking forward to his positive energy and ongoing leadership as we begin our next 20 years as a chorus and a community.

Recently, we sat down with Jeff to get to know him a little better and see if we could get any sneak previews at what the future may hold. We began with Jeff’s motivations for leaving the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington D.C. “My husband, Roger, and I wanted to make a move to smaller, peaceful, and less political city, where we would still find a deeply rooted gay community and a rich arts community,” said Jeff. “Louisville offers all of that, as well as a great opportunity to work with VOICES. We’re looking forward to making friends in a new community.”

As Jeff and Roger settle in to the slower pace of Louisville, Jeff is making big plans for VOICES! “When I left a career in education to become Artistic Director of Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington D.C., I knew I wanted to work on building a bridge between the chorus and high school students. I’m so proud of founding a youth outreach program in 2001 that is still thriving today, and I’m looking forward to building a similar program with VOICES,” Jeff said. “Our youth will be inspired and empowered by the pride we can show them.”

But for the immediate future, his focus is trained on the winter program, HOLIDAY MAGIC. “I’m looking forward to the fun visual surprises for our audience, as well as the opportunity to sing to our mission,” said Jeff. “There’s an amazing diversity of musical styles from many different genres. And humor––lots of humor! Every song takes the concert in a different direction. Best of all, we get to tell and sing our stories. In this show it’s all about our magical holiday memories––from riding down a hill on a sleigh after a beautiful snowstorm to sharing a first Christmas with the person you’ve fallen in love with.”

“When I program a concert,” Jeff said, “I make a deal with myself that I have to like every song. I have several favorites this time around. We’ve got a really fun Bollywood number in the works, and a rendition of ‘Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas’ that will offer visual surprises for our audience. For the sheer beauty of sound, combined with singing to our mission, the combination of ‘Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming’ and Bette Midler’s ‘The Rose’ will break my heart as I conduct and listen.”Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 10.36.10 AM

So, what does Jeff look for in a performance? “I always feel cheated at a performance when I’m not feeling something. I’m a great fan of musicals––incredible music, a haunting story, and some humor. I remember the first time I saw ‘Sweeney Todd’ on Broadway, I left the theater with a friend and neither of us could speak a word for half an hour. That’s how affected we were by the show. It left us speechless at the time.”

We can’t wait to see how Jeff’s passion for music, storytelling, and community building will shape our future! Jeff’s advice for your expectations of the future, “Don’t ever expect VOICES to be boring!” Tickets to Jeff’s first concert with VOICES, Holiday Magic, are available here!

 

VOICE of the Week – Tami McGowen

tami-mcgowanThis week we’re so pleased to be able to feature Tami McGowan as our VOICE of the Week! Tami is a founding member of VOICES who, after a 10 year hiatus from the chorus, rejoined us last spring for our 20th Anniversary concert, VOICES Goes Platinum! She and her partner Peggy, who you got to know as last week’s VOICE of the Week, have returned to sing with us for our Holiday Magic and we couldn’t be more thrilled! We had a chance to chat with Tami this week to chat about some of her favorite memories of VOK and what she’s looking forward to most now that she’s back!

What’s your occupation these days?
I’m a retired police officer, but currently I occupy my time as a Heart Monitor Technician at Jewish Hospital 3 days a week.

In one sentence, let us know what VOICES means to you.
VOICES of Kentuckiana has always been an important part of my life, as well as Peggy’s (my better half). We were both very active singing with the chorus and Inner Voices.

What prometed you to return to VOICES this year?
There were several reasons I returned this semester. Mainly, it was the nudging of a few other VOK members, the anticipation of growth under Jeff’s leadership, and once again being able to sing next to Peggy and a cherished group of friends that we have missed.

Tell us about a favorite moment from a VOICES concert or event.
A couple of memorable moments from VOICES were the first two Gala events we attended in 1996 and 2000. We all felt so much excitement as we took the stage and then shared such joy as we left.

What’s the best song you’ve performed with VOICES and why?
I remember several favorite songs, but “My Ship,” was one of my favorites while singing with Inner Voices.

Tell us something nice about another member of VOICES you admire.
I truly admire one of our Silent Voices, Terry Graney. She works with students who deal with difficult circumstances everyday. She is something the only one that truly listens to their needs and genuinely cares about them. She does all of that and then has spent the last 10 or more years of her free time making sure that VOICES doesn’t go without food or water. That’s dedication! Thanks Terry!

We can’t wait to share holiday memories with Tami this semester as we prepare to present our Winter Program, Holiday Magic, on December 6 & 7! Tickets available now!

 


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