New VOA Chorus director encourages women to join
When Stacey St. John took over as the new director of the Voice of America Chorus in November, the group’s 34 members welcomed her with open arms.
Now, St. John is encouraging other women to join the local chorus.
“For any woman out there, who enjoys singing, this is a fantastic outlet. Not only to use your musical talent, but to also be a part of a true sisterhood,” she said.
St. John, 38, of Liberty Township brings experience as a second-generation barbershop singer and as someone who began her career as a Sweet Adeline – a worldwide competitive barbershop-style organization – at age 18. She takes over the position once held by the chorus’ founding director, Traci Martin.
“When we had our first rehearsal, it seemed like a seamless transition; Stacey took over and it was great,” said Jane Buehler, who was one of the group’s founding members. “We will miss Traci, of course, but Stacey has just jumped right in, and I think we are going to accomplish great things with her.
“We know her history, and are all excited about having such a accomplished director and someone who is also fun to be around.”
When Buehler and six others joined Martin at a Panera restaurant on Aug. 9, 2010, they talked about the risks of starting a chorus. Martin said it was like starting a business. There was a budget, there were costs associated with competitions and there were even two chorus groups – the Cincinnati Sound and the Gem City Chorus – each less than a 30-minute drive away.
“VOA Chorus stole my heart,” Martin said. “This group of fine, talented, fun-loving women has changed my life forever.”
Martin said the group changed her by allowing her to exercise her musical freedoms. “They allowed me that kind of freedom when everyone else stayed in that cocoon. We were not the typical Sweet Adeline chorus. That is one of the reasons why Stacey wanted to direct this group.”
That unique style allowed the Voice of America Chorus to quickly distinguish itself at the annual Sweet Adelines Region 4 Competition.
In its first competition, in April 2011, VOA captured first place in the Small Chorus Division. In April 2012, the group garnered second place in the Mid-Sized Chorus division, having grown by 40 percent in one year.
The chorus also earned a Silver Certificate at last summer’s World Choir Games in Cincinnati.
“We grew this chorus two years ago from a dream to a reality,” Martin said. “They continue to aspire to a high level of excellence in singing and performing … I’m proud of everything they have accomplished.”
Martin is moving to Northville, Mich., to be closer to family and to purchase a business franchise. She left her chorus in the hands of a longtime friend and experienced singing coach.
“I have traveled all over coaching different choruses and quartets, so to have a chorus here locally that I have the opportunity to direct is very rewarding, because you get to see an improvement on a weekly basis,” St. John said. “To me there is nothing more satisfying than helping singers be the best they can be.
“I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.”
The Voice of America Chorus is open to all women regardless of residence. It holds open rehearsals 7 p.m. Mondays at the West Chester Church of the Nazarene, located at 7951 Tylersville Road, near the border of West Chester and Mason.
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