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What the world needs now is love, sweet love…and song leaders!

The You Gotta Sing! Chorus officially launched in the summer of 2011 with 19 shining members. We now have over 375 people coming out to sing every week!  We all blossom when given the opportunity to sing in a safe, non-judgmental circle of song.

“The more, the merrier” and “come one, come all” have been at the centre of our choir model from the very beginning.  With our ever-growing membership, however, I recently made the very difficult decision to create a Wait List for newcomers who wish to join our choir.  With a choir of our size, it is important to make sure that folks can see the director, can feel comfortable in the singing space, and can connect and get to know each other a little better at rehearsals and events.

I believe that we all we all deserve to have a safe singing space where we find acceptance,  joy, and freedom as we let our voices, and indeed our very selves, find expression.

YGS will continue to present many BIG SING community events and workshops that welcome all.  Keep checking in with our Home Page for updated details on exciting offerings.

We also actively support and promote other choirs in HRM who offer similar open-access, inclusive, and safe singing opportunities.  Leading others in song has been deeply transformational and healing for me.  We need more song leaders in our world.

If you feel that spark of desire, or even curiosity about what it might be like to get the harmonies cooking in your circle, you can check out the incredible team of Shivon Robinsong and Denis Donnelly, my dear teachers, and their transformational program: Community Choir Leadership Training

What a gift to encourage others to sing!  It changes lives, one song at a time, and is available to us all.

Vanessa

~Song lyrics by Hal David; music by Burt Bacharach

 

Thanksgiving Song #2

Back in 1999, I was leaving my favourite coffee shop in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood of Toronto, and I noticed a poster for a women’s singing circle.  Intrigued and excited, I joined the group, led by Moon Joyce, and began a new journey into the world of self-discovery through my voice.  I experienced feelings of freedom, joy, and connection that only grew while singing with these women.  This singing experience wasn’t about performance or perfection, and yet the beauty that came out of our sessions together was stunning to me.  I carried these songs home with me each night.  I felt like I belonged, just as I was, with this group.

I continued to study vocal improvisation with Moon and keenly observed her expertise in song leading.  A truly gifted songstress and facilitator, Moon teaches from the belief that we all have the right to sing; that the songs we sing can empower us to let go of perceived boundaries and limitations; and that singing in community belongs to all people, not just a chosen few.  Many thanks to you, Moon, for inspiring me to continue on in this important and life-changing work!

Fast forward to 2001.  I happened upon a documentary that completely changed my life:  SING!  Healing, Community, Celebration, produced by Shivon Robinsong and Bill Weaver.  It follows the amazingly moving and passionate work of community song leaders extraordinaire:  Gina Sala, Laurel Murphy, Shivon Robinsong, Ann Mortifee, and Rhiannon.   These women became my beloved mentors and I watched this film over and over, feeling like I had come home to myself and to my purpose on this earth.  I wanted to help myself and others sing without judgement, to express the truth about ourselves in sound and song, and to find community within a wider, singing human family.

While sharing my passionate connection to this film with Shivon over the phone, she let me know that she was launching a course called “Community Choir Leadership Training” in Victoria, B.C. and encouraged me to attend.   It took 10 years of the continuous bubbling of my passion for community singing, 2 babies, a major move from Ontario to Nova Scotia, ever-steady support and encouragement from my husband, John, and the launch of my very own community choir, the You Gotta Sing! Chorus, before I finally made the trek to Victoria to meet both Shivon Robinsong and Denis Donnelly!  And what a tuneful, soulful, uplifting meeting that was!

Thank you, Shivon and Denis, for your gentle and persistent encouragement over the years, for song leading with heart, compassion, and great, great skill. You are both shining lights of inspiration for me, and for so many others!

 


Thanksgiving Song #1

This is my absolute favourite time of year, especially here in Nova Scotia.  As we embark on the 2nd fall season of the You Gotta Sing! Chorus, I am in a constant state of gratitude for all the incredible people that have helped me on the path to becoming a community song leader.  

I was blessed with hearing my mother’s voice as she read to me.  I remember absorbing the vibrations through her chest into my little self and soaking up all her loving words.  

My maternal grandmother would sing “diddle-dee” songs and bounce me on her knee, telling me silly, made-up stories while she stroked my hair.  I learned about improvisation and playfulness from her.

My paternal grandmother had a fiery passion for music, especially organ music, and encouraged me as a young pianist and singer.  She loved to hear me play the harp and sing in her later years.  She taught me to appreciate the power and beauty of music and its capacity to lift away cares and troubles.

My aunt was my first beloved music teacher.  As a toddler I would sit beside her at the piano and fell in love with the way her hands moved over the keys and the delicious sounds that filled my ears.  This started a love affair with my first instrument, the piano.  I could express feelings and thoughts without any words at all.  My first taste of musical freedom.

I found another “home” in school choirs and theatre productions.  Nothing beat the feeling of creating something with others, bonding in friendship and mutual admiration, and then sharing our creation with an appreciative audience.  

I have been so very blessed along the way with excellent piano and singing teachers.  Every single one of them taught with heart and wisdom and gave me exactly what I needed at the time in my life when I needed it most.  Whenever I desire their guidance and expertise, I can bring up the sensations and memories of our lessons together ~ what a gift and joy in my life!  I would often leave these sessions with great energy and enthusiasm and write copious notes, fired up to teach others what I had just learned!  Thank you Catherine Holbrook, Arelene Wright, Theresa Thibodeau, Catherine Robbin, Deborah Joy, Ali Garrison, and Tannis Sprott!  

There is so much magnificence

“There is so much magnificence near the ocean, waves are coming in, waves are coming in.”

Summertime in Nova Scotia abounds with the smell of salt water in the air, the feel of gentle breezes on sun-warmed skin, and the sound of the waves rushing onto the beach.  

I’ve been experiencing the cooling and uplifting experience of singing this song by Miten with YGS for the past 2 months.  Every time we sing it, I can feel the gentle rhythm of being carried and supported by all of our voices together. Such a joy!

We’ll be sharing this song and many others next Thursday, August 23 at the Northwood Community Centre at 7 PM. 2615 Northwood Terrace, Shirley Burnstein Hall.  Freewill donation at the door.

Community singing events, like this one, are a wonderful way to sit and soak up the sounds around you and maybe, if you feel like it…joining in the wave of song and letting your voice out into the room.

May we all experience the cooling waves of rest, refreshment, and renewal as we gather up the energy to burst into fall with full fiery colour and joy.