According to their website, “YAI is a network of agencies offering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities a comprehensive range of services across the lifespan. Our mission is to help others achieve the fullest life possible by creating new opportunities for living, loving and working.”
It was a few moments before we were ready to begin, but that was all part of the show for the audience, who seemed to enjoy watching Rene “find a place for all my things”—his various instruments—while we stood in formation. Then came our standard opening, Siyahamba, which got many of them swaying and a few holding their phones aloft to record us.
They enjoyed all that we did, the introductions as well as the singing. Especially interesting to them was Rene’s demonstration of his various instruments. When he asked them what Marv was holding, someone shouted out “A strap and a guitar.” And when Barry, in his introduction to Smile, asked whether anyone knew who Charlie Chaplin was, someone said, “He’s the one who had a mustache.” We couldn’t see Barry’s face—he was standing with his back to us, looking at the audience—but we heard his explanation that this was a song about smiling when you were feeling kind of sad, “a smile that looks like this.” Then came their appreciative laughter, leaving us to guess what face he put on. Everything we did was part of the show. They even thought it funny when Rene was looking for his glasses and said, “It would be good if I could see the music.”
They liked all three sing-alongs. After Rene taught them Rock-a-My-Soul and led them through it, he said “You guys are great,” and someone shouted, “So are you!” In This Land is Your Land, a few in the audience added hand motions for the line “This land belongs to you and me,” pointing to us, then themselves. We found out that it was two people’s birthday, so after This Land is Your Land, we sang Happy Birthday twice, one to Jennifer, once to Ishmael.
A special moment for me was Cherokee Morning Song. Rene introduced it by telling the audience that Native Americans like to be called First Nation. He showed them the flute his wife and mother-in-law had bought him, and also the seed-pod shakers. Then he started playing his flute. The audience had been getting a bit energetic from the Riverside sing-along that preceded Morning Song, but as soon as the pure, simple flute notes started, they settled down. Music truly hath charms to soothe.
Our smash finale was Empire State of Mind, featuring Anthony in shades, firmly in control of the mike and the lyrics. Let’s hear it for NEW YORK!!!! YEAAAAH!!!!!! YEAAAAH!!!!!! Then came a surprise, a song that YAI had prepared to sing to us. POHC sat in the audience and the YAI members came up front and sang several choruses of Because I’m Happy. Now it was our turn to cheer and applaud. Thank you, YAI, for inviting us to be part of the living, loving, and working tonight.
-Peace of Heart Choir Singer
It has become a tradition for a member of POHC to do a post-concert write-up. It started when our Sign-up Coordinator began emailing her summaries to the other members in order to entice newer members to sign-up to sing at community concerts held early in the season. It didn’t take long for Concert Write-ups to become greatly anticipated amongst our members, so we share them here in hopes that you’ll join us at a future concert