Voices of Kentuckiana

VOICE of the Week – Heather Thiessen

Heather-grad-1We think you’re going to just love our VOICE of the week this week. Her name is Heather Thiessan and here’s what she had to say about herself. “I occasionally teach religious studies classes at Spalding University. The rest of the time, I seem to run errands for my 15 year old daughter. In my spare time, I pretend to be working on a book.”

Adorable, right? Heather is brand new to our group having just finished her first concert with us this past Spring. So how does she describe VOICES?  “VOICES feels to me like a way to make my conviction that a better world is possibly tangible – or anyway, audible. My Old Kentucky Home was the most personally meaningful song I learned last semester. My late mother, Jo Thiessen, was a native Kentuckian, loved it, and taught her children to revere it. I have to believe that her spirit was in the audience when I had the chance to be part of singing it out loud in public.”

We asked a few other questions of Heather.

What prompted you to become a member of VOICES?

My partner, who was checking e-mail, saw the announcement about open enrollment. I suspect we ended up on the email list after we purchased tickets for the Winter concert online last December, even though we ended up missing the concert! She insisted that I needed to follow up on it … fortunately for me.

What is your hidden talent?

I have remarkable handwriting. My handwriting has been mistaken for typewriting. (One of my former colleagues used to say “Heather has fonts.”)

Tell us something nice about another member of VOICES you admire.

I really wanted to answer this one, but I found that it was impossible to narrow my admiration down to just one person. The “great candidates” kept changing as I thought of all the people I’d sat next to in rehearsals, listened to as they tried out for a solo, noticed as they pitched in and got things done with good cheer and dispatch. And whose act of mercy to a total newbie (“here, borrow my [copy of For Good; 1" black non-glossy binder; actual sense of pitch; confidence] …”) I remembered last.

Voice of the Week – Michael Clark

Michael ClarkMichael Clark is our outgoing (and out-going) Board Chairman so it’s only fitting that he is featured this week. Michael works in accounting and has been singing with VOICES since 1997. “To me, VOICES means a group of great friend who like to sing and share our talents to lift up those in our audience.” Here’s what he had to say to some of our questions.

Tell us about a favorite moment from a VOICES concert or event?

One of my favorite moments was the end of Celluloid Broadway concert after dancing to “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from Hairspray – the front line dancers just collapsed without telling the chorus or David Stone (Our AD) we were going to do that. It capped off the long rehearsal process for that concert perfectly.

What’s the best song you’ve performed with VOICES and why?

My favorite song was during GALA 2000 in San Jose. As the last chorus to sing, and with no other chorus singing opposite of us, we ended the week long event with “My Old Kentucky Home.”  I still get cold chills thinking about that audience and atmosphere and the applause.

What prompted you to become a member of VOICES?

One of my good friends Eva Bush was singing and she kept prompting me to join and I went to a concert and was hooked.

What do you hope to see for VOICES in the future?

I think the future of VOICES and its relevance no longer lies solely as a safe place for the LGBT community. As acceptance grows daily across the country, VOICES has become a place for all people to come and be accepted.  Much like the current discussion at Atherton, we too need to look beyond the gay and lesbian labels and be that safe community for anyone who needs it. As we were once where they are now, we understand what it means to have a safe place to go to once a week.

VOICE of the Week – Bernadette B. Dee

bern-deeCheers to our VOICE of the week, Bernadette B. Dee, a 3 year veteran of the chorus. You can call her Bern because she’s cool and she has this to say about Voices: “Voices is family to me. They are always there no matter what.” 

What else do we know about Bern? She is a Billing Specialist for Humana Healthcare, a very animated person, and she loves to act and sing! “I would play myself in the Broadway musical of my life, because no one can play me better than me.” 

Bern is in it for the long haul it seems. “My hope is that when I look around at Voices members, I see more people who look like me.”

Hey Bern! Tell us about someone you admire in Voices. “I admire Alise Oliver. Since the first day we met, she has always stayed true to herself and was welcoming to others. I admire her because this past year she was in some storms. But she had her faith and knew that it would all work out. And even though she was in the storms, she was able to pull the best out of each one of us. She made us enjoy coming to rehearsal and, to say the least, she helped us to have what I think is the best concert I have ever sang in.”

We admire you too, Bern.

Burning Questions about the Annual Bowling Bash

This week we caught up with Linda Wilhelms, the point person behind the 6th Annual Bowling Bash fundraiser, and got to know a little bit more about this great event! Read on to learn more about the history of the Bowling Bash and some of it’s more surprising elements!

Bowling Bash

Q. What is the VOICES of KY Bowling Bash all about?

A. The Bowling Bash was conceived about 7 years ago as a great way to have fun, get to know each other better and make a few bucks in the interim. We have had amazing support from Dale McCall at Vernon Lanes who is a major contributor to the event.

Q. What’s your favorite part of the Bowling Bash?

A. Bowling is in odd sport. The folks you think may be terrible bowlers often are the best. Of course we are always fairly intimidated by those who bring their own balls and shoes. I love the camaraderie of the evening. Folks lose inhibitions and just have fun. I love it when someone is hesitant to join us saying, “I don’t bowl.” But once they see how awful most of us are they’re willing to jump in!

Q. Can you explain “the big weenie in the rear?”

A. The concept of the “Big Weenies in the Rear” was stumbled upon at our very first event. There is a kitchen/snack bar in the back of the bowling lanes. We had decided to do a hot-dog bar as part of the refreshments…preparing all the food in that space. Before we realized it, we were talking about having big weenies in the back room…which morphed into Big Weenies in The Rear…now solidly a part of the Bowling Bash phenomenon!

Q. How do you think the Bowling Bash contributes to a sense of community among the VOICES members?

A. Bowling gives us time to talk to the singers we might not get to share with at regular rehearsal. Defenses are down, no one has to learn music or hit the right notes. The MC on the mic calls people out, makes bawdy jokes, and keeps everyone laughing. It’s also a great time to recruit new singers. The venue offers a relaxed and easy-going place to get to know people. In simple terms, it’s a party!

Q. What are the best Bowling Bash team names you’ve ever heard?

A. Shiny Balls, Hard Balls and, of course, Blue Balls

Bowling Shoes

If you haven’t formed your team for the Bowling Bash, there’s still a little time left. So get the gang together, come up with a fun name, and join us at Vernon Lanes on June 6! Click here to get registered.


VOICE of the Week – Claudia Knott

claudia-knottI teach.  This is my 38th year in a classroom of one sort or another, on both the secondary and collegiate levels.  I teach U. S. history.  History is my passion and has been since I was a very young child.  I always wanted to time travel with Mr. Peabody and Sherman in the Way Back Machine.

When I lived in Georgia in the early 1990s, I attended a performance of the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus. At that time, I was only vaguely aware of the existence of LGBT choruses, and I certainly had no idea of the power of their music.  I decided then that I wanted to be a part of that musical “movement.”.

I moved back to Louisville in 1994 and was so excited to learn there was a new chorus in town, and I joined Voices in its third season in the spring of 1995. I don’t have a single favorite moment in Voices.  What I love the most is the final days and hours and minutes and seconds before a concert when everything we have worked for through the season falls into place, when we know  most clearly and proudly who we are and what together we have created. For me, those moments crackle with excitement and the power of a common purpose.

A person in Voices whom I appreciate greatly is Linda Wilhelm.  She is a “mover and a shaker” – she works tirelessly for the chorus, and she gets things done.  We don’t need Wikipedia, Siri or a GPS because we have Linda.  And her sock puppet shows are legendary.