THE ENTHUSIAST!: How to Start Singing in Public in St. John’s

Do you sing in private? Are you an elusive chanteuse? It's time you moved your singing engagements out of the shower and in front of live human people.

Do you sing in private? Are you an elusive chanteuse? It’s time you moved your singing engagements out of the shower and in front of live human people.

“I wanted to join a choir for years, but there was nothing to join,” says Posie Row founder Anita Carroll, “All the choirs were full.”

Then, Carroll heard through the grapevine that Kelly Ann Evans was looking for choir members through her organization, Performance Academy. Soon, the choir (Skylarking) was 20 voices strong, doing performances for all things community-oriented, along with their year-end show.

Sara Sexton has been involved in the Basilica Church Choir for 15 years, when she was inspired to get involved in the weeks following 9/11. Since then, every Wednesday night, she’s been with the choir doing warm-ups and musical exercises. Then, it’s mass on Sunday morning 11at the Basilica. “Singing as one voice, it’s quite powerful,” she says.

You may not have the pipes for symphonic choral music like Newman Sound, Lady Cove, or the Philharmonic Choir of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, but if you have trouble thinking of  yourself as a “singer,” there’s hope. Dr. Valerie Long’s choral class “Let’s Make a Choir” welcomes men and women of all ages to a series of 10 choral sessions (along with a little music theory) at St. Teresa’s Parish Hall.

Growing The Voices: Festival 500 evolved from Festival 500: Sharing The Voices. “While our predecessor was a bi-annual Choral Festival, Dr. [Susan] Knight re-visioned the organization to become about singing for everyone,” says GTV’s Krysta Rudofsky. “Our goal is to make singing and singing opportunities accessible to everyone.”

Another kind of choir  is St John’s Vocal Exploration Choir (VocalX), which is not your typical glee club, in that the group doesn’t usually sing songs. Instead, they build soundscapes vocally through improvisation. According to founder Chris Tonelli, the choir operates with varying levels of direction and conducting, meaning the improvised real-time compositions can occasionally grow wild like a Yoko Ono-style jam.

VocalX is holding free vocal workshops on June 15th, from 7-10pm, and June 18th, 1:30-3:30pm in the MMAP Gallery at the Arts and Culture Centre (AAC), lead by guest conductor Michael Edward Edgerton, from Guangxi University in Nanning, China. He will be appearing in concert with the VocalX Choir June 16th at 9:30pm at the Ship and June 21st at 8pm at the AAC. Edgerton will also give a public talk on composing for and improvising with extranormal vocal techniques as part of the Improvising Spaces series Friday June 17th at 7:30pm at the AAC.

Finally, if you’re looking for a way to get your ya-yas out, nothing beats karaoke for instant gratification. It’s also the easiest way to start, since karaoke audiences usually aren’t there for the music.

“Karaoke is pretty much my favorite thing ever,” says Elling Lien, founder of Unpossible NL , the organization behind so many creative folk culture initiatives like the local RPM challenge, the St. John’s Cookie Throwdown, and the Stand-Up Challenge in June (unpossible.co for details).

“I’ve been collecting karaoke tracks for years, and have spent some of my favourite family moments singing,” he says. “I hosted a karaoke night at the Peter E in February and it was the best. It’s all recreational, which is key. I don’t have a voice like Al Green, but who cares?”

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