Performing in Public

May 27, 2020

I’m in the New York City Labor Chorus. I’ve been in it for about 20 years. So, it’s a wonderful experience. It’s a large chorus and we certainly make a wall of sound. And we’re four parts and we do concerts. Every year or so, we have a concert at a church. It’s where they have the one of the community church on 35th Street. And then every couple of years, we have an even larger concert and a bigger venue like the, what is that called on 95th Street?

Yes, that’s right. We sang there once. We sing at ethical culture once and a few other different places. So I have certainly sung a lot, but the story I wanted to tell is when I sang, I really made an impression on someone and it was very important to me because I was kind of shy. And it was this summer that I finished ninth grade and my mother and I went to visit our family friends in the country. And they got us invited to this party at these people’s house. And I was getting a little bored with just sitting around and listening to all the adults talk. So they said I could go out into the garage and play the piano and sing.

So one of the people was also interested in music and he was in his 20s and he came out to listen to me sing, and he loved my singing and he loved folk music as well as country music. And we talked a whole lot and then eventually, he wanted to sing for me. So he went and got his guitar and he was singing really old country music like Hank Williams and stuff for me. And we enjoyed each other so thoroughly.

And it was a very important thing to have happened to me that somebody appreciated me and talked to me as an adult and shared our interests. And I have never forgotten and I’ve never forgotten him. And his name was Ed. And the fact that he appreciated me and my music was very important to me. But I have to say that his wife was not very happy because he was spending a couple of hours, at least with this very young teenager. And I think she thought it was a little strange, but we certainly enjoyed ourselves and I have never forgotten him. He was from New Hampshire, the only person I’ve ever known from New Hampshire.

I had a little bit of piano lessons when I was a child. I never got really great at piano, but I just sort of used it enough to accompany myself. And so it wasn’t a big thing to me. I really can’t play the piano anymore. But obviously I still sing and I’m still a second soprano.

I’ve been with the chorus for just about 20 years. I came into it and they in the, maybe the mid 90s, maybe something like ’96, ’97. I missed the year, but I was brought in by my boss. At NYU, I used to work for the labor archives at the time I’m in library at NYU. And she was in the chorus and she heard me sing it at couple of her parties at her house. And she brought me in and she was the one that originally was encouraging me and helping me to learn the songs at the beginning, because it was quite… Coming in as a new person and most people had been in the chorus for several years, it was daunting at the beginning to try to learn everything. So she helped me a lot.

We sing union songs and civil rights songs. Charity Forever and We Shall Overcome. We do a wonderful version of We Shall Overcome. And we do a few pieces that were originally classical, and we have rewritten words to talk about the environment issue or other similar issues like that. Last year when we had our concert, I announced it at my class, at the rote and someone came. Someone actually wanted to come. And so hopefully next year I’ll be able to do that again. The chorus has several CDs and the last one came out just before all this epidemic started. And so I don’t have a copy of it yet. But I’m sure we have a lot more copies. I’m sure we’ll be able to be selling them at our next concerts next year.