Just before he left the office for the weekend my boss asked me if I wanted to use an extra ticket he had for the Seattle Men's Chorus for Sunday. I'm so glad I was able to take him up on the offer.Their performance was held at Benaroya Hall, and I'd never been there before. Magnificent facility. Just as with Safeco Field, the funding and justification for it has been hotly debated locally, however also just as with Safeco Field, it is now a fait accompli and it would be absurd to avoid using them just to make a point in a political skirmish which has passed. Seattle Men's Chorus is the largest community chorus in the world and the largest gay men's chorus in the world. This performance was the SMC's "Up Over - Down Under". The SMC had just spent much of February touring Australia and New Zealand and - according to their website - this post tour performance was like "a victory lap". I found it marvelous, just wonderful. They did music of South Africa, a Maori song, even a long and haunting piece where the entire chorus emulated the songs of a didgeridoo. A group who sprang up from within the SMC, Captain Smartypants, performed songs throughout the afternoon. Captain Smartypants, an octet of SMC members, sings doo-wop, barbershop, and whatever else they think they can get a laugh with. Sunday was also the premiere performance of Diverse Harmony, a singing group for young gay - lesbian - bi - transgendered - straight friends aged 14 to 22. The kids were great, and standing on the stage in front of, and then merged into the entire SMC was - well, I got teary several times. If there had been such a group when I was that young, a group that said it was ok to be who and what I was and to not only be accepted, but to be applauded on stage - well, I may not have spent 30 years as a closeted bisexual man. I was able to see Hairspray in it's pre-Broadway run here in Seattle and it was great... but to see the SMC doing a medley of the songs from Hairspray, with all the main characters being in drag, well it was just plain good fun. Accompanying the chorus on their Australian/New Zealand tour was Ann Hampton Callaway. This is the singer/songwriter/vamp who wrote and sang the theme song for the TV show The Nanny, who has appeared on Broadway and written songs for Barbra Streisand, and can she ever put on a performance. She was fantastic - I really didn't want her to leave the stage. Well, I felt that way about the entire afternoon's performance. It was just good fun, good music, and over too soon. I've pretty well run out of superlatives, and may not be doing Ms. Callaway adequate justice [the love child of Lionel Hampton and Cab Callaway, she said, with a smile, just before belting out a song that I think was titled "I've Got The I'm Too White To Be Singing The Blues Blues", or something like that]. The Amazon review of the Broadway soundtrack album of her show "Swing!" called her "Cabaret chanteuse Ann Hampton Callaway... (whose writing credits include the theme song for the TV series The Nanny and Barbara Streisand's "I've Dreamed of You" and "At the Same Time") has a voice that can burn on a ballad, blare like a trumpet, or scat up a storm." I can't add much to that other than the fact that I'm now on a mission to collect all of her CD's. And if you look at any of her photos you'll see why I've added her to the same list I have which includes Susan Sarandon, Lesley Anne Warren, Gates McFadden, and a few others - my 'Eternal Hope' list. It was a very good day.
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