In Toronto, An Ad-Hoc Choir Becomes A Community

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Choir! Choir! Choir! performs at the Toronto venue Lee's Palace, led by Daveed Goldman (left, with guitar) and Nobu Adilman. (Joseph Fuda)
Choir! Choir! Choir! performs at the Toronto venue Lee's Palace, led by Daveed Goldman (left, with guitar) and Nobu Adilman. (Joseph Fuda)

Let's say you live in Canada — say, Toronto — and you like to sing. You're not in a band, you don't get asked to sing at weddings, but singing just kind of makes you happy. Well, every Tuesday night at a local bar, you'll find a crowd of people just like you, singing their hearts out.

At the front of the room, conducting, you'll find Daveed Goldman. He's not exactly a pro either: "I sang in choirs in elementary school," he says, "but once I got to a certain age, it just wasn't cool anymore."

Goldman and Nobu Adilman are the founders of Choir! Choir! Choir! It's an ad-hoc group: no auditions, no commitment, just show up and sing. Adelman says that when they first came up with the idea, they weren't sure it would work — but at their first official gathering in February 2011, 20 people showed up.

"It was the Snowpocalypse in Toronto. We expected the whole city to be shut down," Goldman tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "At the end of it, we said, 'OK, we'll do this next month.' And everybody was like, 'No, next week!' "

Now the weekly songfests are packed, with more than 100 people jammed into one room. There's almost no space for an audience, and they don't really want one.

"We are the show," Adilman says. "Daveed and I will arrange a couple songs, people show up, we give them lyrics and they learn the songs. It's hit-and-miss, but we've got a really high batting average. We record the songs, usually on video and audio, and we've got songs that sound really good."

This holiday season, Goldman and Adilman decided it was time to start to sharing the music — by taking the choir on the road to hospitals and community groups. To hear more of their story, click the audio link on this page.

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