A Cappella Joy member Meredith wrote this lovely essay about the joys of singing with the chorus.
I get asked sometimes how I decided to try singing with A Cappella Joy. The short version is that a friend of a friend had been posting a lot about her experience being a member of AJoy. It looked incredibly fun, and I love to sing. It turned out AJoy rehearses about ten minutes from my house. It was worth checking it out.
That’s just part of the story, though. Truth is, what brought me to my first rehearsal was a performance video.
The video was of AJoy’s regional competition performance from May 2018. AJoy sang a two-song set of “Wee Small Hours of the Morning” and “Rock This Town.” It was an incredible performance in terms of sound, music, and visual presentation. It sounded and looked amazing. But what hooked me was the ending.
In the final note of the performance, AJoy held an amazing chord. The director, Nikki Blackmer, turned around and raised her arms with the rest of the chorus as they swelled into a huge crescendo. Then she waved her hands to finish the chord.
Everyone in AJoy had the same look on their faces. I knew that look.
That look was triumph.
AJoy didn’t know in that moment that their performance won them first place in the regional competition for the first time in over a decade and a half. But they looked like champions standing there, and I’m sure they felt that way. They were triumphant. I wanted to experience that triumph too.
So I showed up. I fell in love with the women of AJoy and the process of becoming a better chorus. Through practice and hard work, and finally a nerve-wracking audition, I earned a spot on the risers with them.
Triumph is rare. It has to be earned, and it can be earned only through hard work and devotion. Between weekly rehearsals, multiple special coaching sessions, retreats, and final rehearsals, AJoy can put about 250 hours into group preparation for a performance. Members also put in several independent practice hours each week. Front row performers attend many extra choreography rehearsals. All of this time is designed to help AJoy put on the best performance they possibly can of two songs in under seven minutes.
AJoy earned a berth in the 2019 international competition with their regional win from 2018, and I joined them in New Orleans. In the final moments before we stepped on stage, I found myself consumed with doubt and worry. I could barely look at the reverse side of the stage backdrop, bathed in blue light. On the other side thousands of people were in the audience. I felt sure I wasn’t ready, but there was nothing to be done. Up the ramp we went.
I stepped into my position and looked out. Suddenly, my nervousness was gone. I had prepared for this moment, and I felt ready. The huge smile on my face was genuine. I was electric with excitement.
I felt triumph.
And then we sang.