It is our mission to build a more
welcoming community through song.
The Tacoma Refugee Choir is a non-auditioned choir united by the plight of refugees and the conviction that everyone has a voice to contribute. We believe that it’s hard not to love people when we sing together and that all can use their voice to make the world better.
We recognize music as a powerful force capable of reaching people intimately and profoundly. It moves at the foundation of culture, forming and declaring identity while uniting us in celebration of our shared humanity. It is both personal and collective, and in it, we discover truths that define us and bring us toward a greater understanding of each other.
When we sing, we uplift one another and we are renewed in our commitment to press on amid challenges.
When we sing, our hearts unite as one and we feel a strong sense of purpose and belonging.
When we sing, we are inspired to do our part to make our community kinder and more welcoming.
As media outlets began increasing our awareness of escalating international conflicts, accounts of the challenges and hardships faced by refugees struck a deep nerve within the founder. After the airing of a difficult broadcast at a conference in April 2016, the inspiration to start a refugee choir took hold.
When the choir was established, we partnered with Tacoma Community House, a 108-year-old organization that is consistently at the forefront of serving refugees, immigrants and longtime residents. Our initial pilot project was well received and prepared us for a launch of our full program by January 2017.
We held our first rehearsal as the Tacoma Refugee Choir on January 17, 2017 at Tacoma Community College, with 22 people in attendance. The energy in the room was electric and full of hope. The repertoire included “This Little Light of Mine,” “This is My Wish,” “Shine Your Way” and “When You Believe,” and each piece focused on the central theme of shining our light and maintaining hope.
When we began this project, we had no inkling of the executive order that would come down just ten days later banning refugees and travel from mostly Muslim countries. While this group maintains a non-partisan stance and welcomes members with a variety of political affiliations, national issues galvanized our purpose and emphasized the need to create safe and inclusive spaces that value the contributions of ALL.
What began as a small community choir has expanded to an effort to inspire and nurture compassion both within the city of Tacoma and beyond. We’ve since welcomed over 400 people from 47 countries to rehearsal and so many of them have become like family. Every rehearsal lifts our spirits and reminds us why it’s worth the sacrifices and hard work to sustain each other and come together each week. We’ve been able to mourn with members as they’ve grieved over being unable to reunite with family or return home for visits. We’ve lifted one another as we have struggled with confidence and faced the challenges of life. We’ve helped college students prepare for tests and write papers, search for jobs and housing. We've even affirmed that we will be a friend while awaiting a deportation hearing.
At a time when many Americans are motivated by, and responding to, fear, we are inspired with hope and feel empowered to use our voices for good throughout our community. We hope that uniting our voices will create a collective, uplifting voice even more powerful than the sum of its parts.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mike Collier (Chair)*
John Dubinsky (Treasurer)
Jane Kenyon (Secretary)*
Tan Sidhu* (Choir Operations Chair)
*Refugee or Immigrant