Power of Roots: Singing Our Stories

"Music is the universal language ... it brings people closer together." - Ella Fitzgerald


We often talk about the shared, universal human experiences that bind us together—and music is one of these. This is why we are so honoured to have spoken with Angel City Chorale’s Executive Director, Winifred Neisser, as the group prepares for it upcoming spring show: Roots—“a multimedia event that delves into the human experience of struggle and determination, sacrifice and hope, gratitude and love.” Representing “a broad cross-section of the cultural heritage of Chorale members, in seven languages from four continents,” Roots uses the power of visual storytelling, dance, and song to ask the kind of questions that resonate with us deeply at Root & Seed: “Where did we come from? What roots us now? And where will we go from here?”


Based in Los Angeles, Angel City Choir first made waves with its unforgettable 2018 America’s Got Talent audition.


Making Connections Through Music

Winifred shares that her city’s diverse roots are at the heart of the equally diverse chorale’s newest show. “We were constantly sharing stories with each other about who we are and where we came from and how we got to LA. It just seemed to grow organically out of who we are as a choir.”


In this spirit of sharing, the songs for Roots were fittingly chosen by the group’s members—and the result is a stunning, multilingual performance that speaks to cultural stories from across the globe. “We always go to our members for music suggestions and have a ‘Song Selection’ meeting before each season,” Winifred explains. “Sue Fink, our Artistic Director, is always looking for and cataloging new music ideas, but our members have varying musical tastes and often come up with songs that are not in a standard choral repertoire. That was certainly the case for this concert. We truly had an embarrassment of riches. For this concert we are singing in seven languages—English, Spanish, Italian, Yiddish, Sioux, Malayalam, and Tagalog. And we've even added some dancing that is reflective of the songs from the Kerala region of India and the Philippines.”


Sue Fink, Artistic Director
 

Reflecting on the way the chorale brings over 180 diverse voices together, a quote from Oliver Sacks came to mind for us: "Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other, historically, as narratives - we are each of us unique.” By honouring individual stories in Roots, Angel City Chorale also honours the common threads that allow people to come together so beautifully in song. “It is important to celebrate the unique narratives and contributions of different ethnic and cultural groups because through those celebrations we also discover how much we have in common,” Winifred says. “We need to remember that—especially in difficult times like these. Music is a powerful and inspiring way to connect people. We invite everyone to this concert with the message, "Come find yourself in our stories."


We also invite you to experience Roots for yourself, and livestream the show on Saturday, June 18th. https://angelcitychorale.org/roots/


Winifred Neisser and the Angel City Chorale
 

How has music brought you closer to your roots, or helped you bond with other people? Share in the comments below!