Why I Love Capital Pride Singers

This is really just an expansion of what I had to say at our membership meeting this week.  The first question we had to answer was, “How did you come to join CPS?”

Back in 1998, when I was contemplating moving to Albany from Denver, I needed to know that there was going to be a place for me to sing.  While in Denver, I sang with the Denver Women’s Chorus and Harmony: a Colorado Chorale, and loved every minute of every rehearsal and performance and retreat.  Singing is one of those things that I just have to do… you know, like breathing.  So even though it would have been completely stupid for my then-fiancé to leave his job in Albany and move to Denver where I didn’t have a job, I was prepared to be completely stupid.  I checked out the Gay and Lesbian Association (GALA) of Choruses website to see if there was an LGBT chorus in Albany… or near Albany… or at the very least, a women’s chorus in or around Albany.  Fortunately, according to GALA, the Capital Pride Singers was an LGBT chorus right in Albany.  Balance was restored to the universe and in April, 1999, I moved to Albany (well, technically it was a suburb of Schenectady).

But I couldn’t find this Capital Pride Singers group!  I was kind of freaking out.  I had a PO Box number, but no phone number and no website and no email address.  I was a geek… how was I supposed to find them?  I started going to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Schenectady, because I figured if nothing else, I could join their chorus.  I’m not a very church-going kind of person (even when churchy people are as nice as the Unitarians), but I was desperate.  After going to a few Sunday morning services (I rather liked the minister, but it was still pretty churchy for my tastes), during the Sharing of Gratitude section of the service, a woman stood and told how grateful she was for being part of the Capital Pride Singers.

I had found them!!  Needless to say, I tracked the member down after the service and got all the information about rehearsals and when the next concert was.  I dropped in on a rehearsal (even though it was too late in the season to sing in their then-current concert).  The director made me feel very welcome, as did the members of the alto section.  I attended their concert that fall (all I remember was that they sang the John Denver Medley (I adore John Denver) and one of the members did a fabulous a capella rendition of a Melissa Etheridge song).  After the concert, I tracked down the director and told her I’d be back in January to sing with them!

I began singing with Capital Pride Singers in January, 2000.  Very quickly, I joined the Artistic Planning Committee, because — dang it — I wanted to be involved!  I don’t remember the first concert (I’m pretty sure it was at Page Hall at SUNY Albany), but I know the Christmas concert that year was at the Cohoes Musical Hall.  I also remember that I was eight months pregnant at the time.

Now we’re getting into the second question that was asked at the membership meeting, “What personally have you gained in joining CPS?”  When my daughter was born prematurely just a week or so after the concert, and died after only four days, these people took it upon themselves to make sure I knew they cared about me.  They came to my house to just sit and hold my hands, and give me hugs.  They brought me food so I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking (I’ve never actually worried about cooking, but they didn’t know that).  They CARED.  They cared about me, and they cared about my family.  They certainly couldn’t understand what I was going through, but by the gods, they tried.  When rehearsals started back up a couple of weeks later, I had my husband drive me (I had a c-section and wasn’t allowed to drive) to rehearsals so I could be with them.  I couldn’t always sing… in fact, in those first few weeks, I don’t thing I sang more than a couple of measures in any given song.  But the song was there.  My friends were singing for me.  They were singing to me.  They probably thought I was nuts, but I needed to be with my people.  There are two groups of people who saved my sanity back in the early part of 2001… the Capital Pride Singers and the New Beginnings Neonatal Loss Support Group.  CPS dedicated to a song to Mackenzie, Let Me Be the Music, and I still cry every time we sing it.  I don’t care.  That song, to me, means love, it means family, it means community… and it means that the family and community that is Capital Pride Singers love me.

We’ve gone through some rough times, CPS and I.  The chorus went through a period of great discord, and I needed to step away for a cycle or two.  But I came back, because I couldn’t stay away.  I can’t stop singing any more than I can stop creating my art.  Singing is therapy, singing is prayer.  Art is about honoring Mackenzie… and I think it’s about honoring all the people who helped me through that most hellish time of my life.  Sure, I still get choked up sometimes when I talk about Mackenzie.  What mother wouldn’t?  But I have people around people who just take that all in stride.

Right now, we have a musical director who is so full of energy, you’d think she’d make me feel old and decrepit.  But her energy and enthusiasm and sheer love of what she’s doing is highly infectious.  Every Monday night, no matter how tired I am or how horrible the fibro pain has been making me feel, I go home feeling happy… optimistic… energized… and maybe even a little less painful.  She wants us to be great.  Her attitude is rubbing off on everyone… my chorus mates are believing — BELIEVING — that we can be great.  We already are, and we can — and will — get better.  I don’t think I would have been convinced to run for Secretary of the Board without her incredible energy and support of each and every one of us.

Capital Pride Singers is a community of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered folk, and yes, even straight folks.  Labels are meaningless, though.  We have music in common, and we are a family.  That’s all that matters… and that’s why I love Capital Pride Singers.

2 Responses to “Why I Love Capital Pride Singers”

  1. April 2nd, 2011 | 10:51 am

    {{{{{{{{ Kelly }}}}}}}

    I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. I am so glad that you have this group and your art. I looked into joining a chorus by me (I love love love to sing) but they are a Sweet Adeline’s group which grates on me more than it fills me up (if that makes sense). I so wish there was a group like yours here.

  2. Daria
    April 2nd, 2011 | 1:41 pm

    I feel lucky just to have been able to read this, to have a glimpse into your thoughts. I am so happy to be getting to know you better. Lots of love, D