Issue #7 | July 30, 2020
When did you join The Choral Project and how did you hear about the group?
I joined The Choral Project in 2017, but my friend and now-fellow alto, Leah Drake, and former choir and voice teacher, Barbara West (TCP soprano alum) first told me about the group in 2013. After graduating college in 2012, I hoped to continue singing in an excellent choir with an emphasis on challenging modern music. But when my mother was diagnosed with Lou Gherig’s disease (ALS) I had to put a lot of plans on hold and could not commit to a regular rehearsal or performance schedule.
I spent a few years listening to The Choral Project’s music online and was struck by how much of the repertoire was familiar, and how much the group paid attention to work that appealed to diverse audiences. I was enticed by the caliber and professionalism of the performances that I both listened to and saw on YouTube, and I loved that it seemed consistent season to season. It was an absolute surprise and joy to be accepted into the choir after so many years of a gap in performances!
If you had to choose only one, what is your favorite song you’ve performed with The Choral Project?
Daniel’s (The Choral Project’s Artistic Director) arrangement of “Into the West” makes me cry every time we perform it, and whenever I listen to it. It connects me to my mom in a way I didn’t think possible, and actually helped me reach a healthier way to grieve for her. She passed in 2016.
What is your earliest music memory?
My dad used to lift me up and dance with me to “Truckin'” and other Grateful Dead songs. I will forever associate tie-dye with my earliest musical memories.
Does music run in your family?
My grandmother played the pump organ and piano, sang, and taught ballroom dancing for a long time. She still plays piano, but sadly I’ve never heard her sing. My grandfather also sings all the time and taught ballroom dancing; he loves Porgy and Bess, and sings along to all the songs. He also loves to sing along with jazz singers and crooners like Frank Sinatra and Mel Tormé.
My other grandfather on my mom’s side played the drums in the army band when he was a pilot in World War II. And my mom had an awesome set of pipes. To hear her sing Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” was one of the highlights of my childhood. I wish I had her lung capacity and vigor!
What is something about you that most people probably don’t know?
I have a bit of a stationery collection and journaling habit. And have over 500 pens, each of which I have used multiple times in the past year. The people closest to me know this, as they keep finding pens in odd places when they visit or find that they’ve lost pens after I’ve visited. Also, while I do not condone unintentional pen-poaching, it is a habit that is very hard to break.
If you sort your music by most played, what are the three most-listened to songs in your digital library?
“September” by Earth, With, and Fire, “Glide” by Between the Buried and Me, and “Wild Child” by Enya.
I am a teacher and “September,” by Earth, Wind, and Fire, is on my P.E. playlist, so it has been played almost daily during the school week for three years. It’s one of the songs on the playlist that the kids love practicing to so sometimes I’ve played it five or more times in a day. “Wild Child,” by Enya has been in my top ten most-played songs for years since it’s one of the songs I tend to play whenever I need to take a deep breath and… well, listen to Enya. I also have it on my P.E. playlist because the kids respond to it as well as I do when it’s time for them to cool down.
And finally, last year, I discovered that I’m a bit of a metal-head, so “Glide” was the song that initially got me hooked. I’ve frequently played it on my commuting playlist in the past year, before the pandemic, since it really wakes me up and it gets stuck in my head so easily, odd as it sounds, that I have to play it over and over in order to get it out of my head. In order for it to make the top three, I must have been playing it a lot! “Glide” is not on my P.E. playlist. I swear.
Have you experienced a “perfect day” in quarantine?
Absolutely. I woke up in the woods to the dawn’s chorus of local Klamath Mountain birds, the bugs weren’t biting, the weather was incredible, I swam in the clearest and cleanest river I’ve ever been in, I had delicious food made from leftovers on a camp stove, and a bald eagle flew over my head as I relaxed next to a verdant stream inlet while drinking organic wine from the local region. And best of all, I was with someone I love very much. With all that combined, the day was as perfect as it could get.
What do you feel most grateful for right now?
I am most grateful for past Kelsey, given the tools she had to work with, for making the best decisions she could make for herself. She’s made it possible to have a pretty incredible life at the moment.
Photos were taken by The Choral Project Board Member, Nada Marriott, who observed all rules of social distancing while using a long-distance camera lens. | © 2020 Nada Marriott