Womansong Still Rises

Be sure to put this on your calendar! Asheville’s much-loved women’s community chorus, Womansong, will be celebrating its 30th anniversary on October 7-8 with a concert titled – STILL WE RISE – at the Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville. This will be your last chance to see long-time director, Debbie Nordeen, lead the group, as she prepares to hand the baton to assistant co-director, Althea Gonzalez.

Audiences can expect the well-loved Womansong mix of inspiration, light-hearted humor, puppetry, swing dance, and instrumental accompaniment. The concert will celebrate the many ways in which music enriches our lives.

Womansong’s founder, the beloved Linda Metzner, never imagined 30 years ago that she was creating a women’s chorus that would touch the hearts of so many. Metzner’s goals were to provide a healing environment for singing and to support good causes, such as women’s rights and the environment. Womansong has affirmed her intentions time and again over the decades. Potential members, for example, have never been required to read music; they must only love to sing and be able to sing in key.

In keeping with Metzner’s vision, the chorus has been instrumental in helping many organizations that make a difference in the lives of women in the community. In recent years, Womansong has performed in support of Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build, Homeward Bound, Helpmate, Our Voice, Serenity in the Smokies, and Planned Parenthood, among others.

The chorus is also a longtime member of the feminist Sister Singers Network, a national organization supporting and promoting the women’s choral movement.

In addition, Womansong is a chorus with its own charitable wing. The New Start Program has distributed over $157,000 over the last ten years alone to women in need in our area. Working through human service networks and community colleges, New Start helps in a variety of ways, from paying for car repairs so that someone can keep a job to helping many first-generation college students achieve their dreams of a college degree. Contributions can be made directly to the Womansong New Start Program, with 100% of donations being distributed to recipients.

Womansong functions as a support network for its members, too. Members have helped each other through hardships as well as celebrating together – singing at funerals as well as weddings. When members have faced health challenges, their singing sisters have been there to provide meals and rides to medical appointments, and even to sing, as they did recently, when a member emerged from her last chemo treatment. Today, Womansong is 75 members strong, and a chorus that practices what it preaches: unity through music.

October’s concert title, STILL WE RISE, refers to a high-energy gospel piece inspired by a Maya Angelou poem. Fans will also hear songs of empowerment, such as the Annie Lennox anthem, “Sing my sister, sing… What won’t kill you will make you strong!” and the Lady Gaga hit that affirms the beauty in diversity: “I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way!” In addition, the choir will also perform “Going Home,” a version of the largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony, which brought comfort and courage to women in a Japanese POW camp during World War II.

Artistic Director Debbie Nordeen says, “Our Womansong audiences love the accessibility of the songs we sing, which are chosen to really touch hearts, uplift spirits, and unify community. One unique aspect of Womansong concerts is the inclusion of audience participation pieces. Singing along to old favorites or original selections adds to the fulfilling collective experience of our music. So come join us!”

Womansong is about to undertake an important transition when Debbie Nordeen steps down this fall as artistic director after 23 years of inspiring leadership.

Tickets will be available starting August 29 from Womansong members and the Diana Wortham Theater box office. The early bird ticket price is $22 from August 29 through September 24, and $25 thereafter. More information at www.womansong.org.

Randee Goodstadt is Public Relations chair for Womansong, and a 16-year member of the chorus who sings second soprano.

Written by Randee Goodstadt