Women’s choruses collaborate in event

Jennifer Adams, director of the WKU Women’s Chorus, warms up the group before the WKU Women’s Chorus and Bowling Green High School Bellissima benefit concert on Tuesday. The concert was held for Hope Harbor in honor of Women’s History Month at First Christian Church in Bowling Green on Tuesday. SHABAN ATHUMAN/HERALD

Emma Austin


voices were raised in unison at First Christian Church as light filtered through the stain glass windows enclosing the sanctuary and female performers took to the stage. “The Woman’s Voice” was about to begin, and these women’s voices were about to be heard.

The WKU Women’s Chorus joined Bowling Green High School’s women’s chorus Bellissima on Tuesday night in a benefit concert to celebrate Women’s HIstory Month and to herald Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Instead of using arrangements for both men and women, WKU Women’s Choir Director Jennifer Adam said she selected music that was written specifically for women.

“It’s kind of a dual purpose,” Adam said. In addition to honoring women’s voices in music, Adam said the songs, which include Rosephanye Powell’s “Still I Rise,” celebrate themes of women’s empowerment and independence.

“Still I Rise” was inspired by a poem of the same name by Maya Angelou, according to Powell’s website. The song is credited as a women’s anthem that salutes the strength of women to preserver through life’s difficulties, such as “low self-esteem, physical and emotional abuse, rape, incest, prejudice, abandonment” and other hardships.

“It’s a song about overcoming obstacles,” Ekron freshman and chorus member Maddie Garnett said. “No matter what you’re faced with, you’ll rise above.”

The program also included a reading of Levi the Poet’s slam poem “Kaleidoscope” by BGHS senior Desiree Williams, 17, who said she connected to the words on a personal level. Williams said she performed the piece last year for her performing arts class and was approached by Patricia Beresford, Bellissima director, to perform the piece this year.

“I started selling my dignity to give my daughter that dream, and to make it a reality … I used to dream,” Williams recited, sharing the woman’s story. The poem ended with the speaker’s hope to show her daughter a “love that loves the unloving.”

Williams said the poem spoke to her about a woman who has to turn to prostitution to provide for her daughter.

“My birth mother had to make a lot of hard decisions in her life like giving me up so I could have a better life,” Williams said.

The night featured songs written to celebrate women’s voices. Florence freshman Eva Llamas said the focus in choral music is often on the man’s part, and the woman’s part is put to the side.

“But it’s still just as important,” Llamas said, a statement proved by the audience’s standing ovation at the end of the program.

Adam said all proceeds from the concert will be donated to Hope Harbor, a sexual trauma recovery center in Bowling Green.

“It felt appropriate to look for a beneficiary who would be associated mostly with women’s issues,” Adam said.

Hope Harbor provides 24-hour crisis hotline services as well as free counseling for sexual assault victims. Hope Harbor also responds to hospital calls from the emergency department when a patient has experienced sexual assault or abuse to help them through their recovery, according to Hope Harbor Executive Director Melissa Whitley.

Whitley said the agency was very surprised when they received the call about the benefit concert.

“It’s the perfect time because it begins the lead into Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” Whitley said, “and we do work with mostly women at our agency.”

Adam said she hopes to make the benefit an annual concert continuing the celebration of women’s choral music.

“It’s raising awareness of women’s music for women’s choirs instead of arrangements for things that were for men and women,” Adam said.