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LGBT-friendly chorus provides its members fellowship, opportunity to help others

A New Song in the Bluegrass

The LGBT-friendly community chorus A New Song in the Bluegrass is rehearsing for its May 13 spring concert, "The Story of Love." The group will donate proceeds from the concert to Moveable Feast.
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The LGBT-friendly community chorus A New Song in the Bluegrass is rehearsing for its May 13 spring concert, "The Story of Love." The group will donate proceeds from the concert to Moveable Feast.

When Bernadette Barton was in eighth grade, she auditioned for the school choir, but she didn’t get in.

“I was told I was tone deaf,” she said. “Every time I sang, my family made fun of me.”

But Barton didn’t give up.

Years later, she went to a vocal coach, who affirmed that she wasn’t tone deaf, and Barton’s wife got a karaoke system for the basement.

“I was so insecure, but I enjoyed it so much,” she said.

Barton found her musical home singing soprano with New Song in the Bluegrass, a chorus of LGBT and LGBT-friendly singers.

The group, in its fourth season, will hold its spring concert Saturday. The concert will benefit Moveable Feast, an organization that provides meals to people living with HIV/AIDS and people who are under hospice care, and their caregivers.

“That’s what’s great about our group,” director Steve Johnson said. “Not only do we have a good time singing, but we also get to do something good for others.”

Johnson directed a local men’s ensemble, Another Note, for 14 years. After it disbanded, he founded New Song after friends suggested a group for men and women. Some of its members also performed with Another Note.

Over the years, the choir has grown to about 35 singers.

Most of them sang with groups in high school or college, although a few, like Barton, developed their talents later in life.

There are no auditions.

“The only requirement is that you’re able to match pitch and come to rehearsal,” Johnson said.

The group sings a mix of contemporary songs, Broadway tunes and older music.

The theme for this year’s spring concert is The Story of Love.

In addition to the spring concert, New Song holds a holiday concert in early December, and this summer, the group will perform at the Lexington Pride Festival for the first time.

The group is a nonprofit organization under the umbrella of the Pride Community Services Organization.

Members said they enjoy the camaraderie as much as the opportunity to sing.

“It’s a little bit like a family, and a great support system,” singer Mel Custer said. “We’re all kind of there for each other, sharing life through its ups and downs.”

If you go

New Song in the Bluegrass

What: Mixed choir of LGBT and LGBT-friendly singers.

When: 7:30 p.m. May 13

Where: St. Michael the Archangel Episcopal Church, 2025 Bellefonte Dr.

Admission: Suggested donation is $12

Online: Facebook.com/NewSongInTheBluegrass

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