Social Justice Choir Sings Out in Support of Mental Health

Justice Choir GR rehearsing.

On Sunday, Nov. 11, Justice Choir GR lends its collective voice to the issue of mental health.

The one-year-old organization has partnered with nonprofit Arbor Circle on the concert performance, which is its first of the 2018-2019 season. “Our first concert of the season, “Sing Out for Mental Health,” is our way of helping to end the stigma surrounding mental health within our community,” said Ashley Bovin, member of the Justice Choir GR steering committee.

Bovin said the Justice Choir always partners with a local organization doing work in an area of social justice and highlights that organization during its performance. “Our partner for this concert is Arbor Circle, who is one of West Michigan’s most comprehensive providers of mental health services. Information from other local mental health organizations will also be available during our after-concert reception, sponsored by Global Infusion.”

The Justice Choir has a second concert planned for early next year and hopes to add a third performance to its season. Last year, the group performed three concerts.

Justice Choir GR rehearses.
Justice Choir GR rehearses.

Justice Choir GR is affiliated with the national Justice Choir organization and is based out of Trinity United Methodist Church in Grand Rapids. Claire Minnis, who moved to Eastown in June 2017 and took a job with Trinity United that came a few months later.

“The church leadership loved the idea of a social justice choir, so they approved the initial establishment of a community choir as a program of the church,” Bovin said.

Today, the choir has a fluctuating membership, but Bovin said 30 members are slated to perform in Sunday’s concert. Tara Cleveland, is serving as director of the current season, with planning led by a volunteer steering committee.

The choir will sing pieces from the Justice Choir songbook on Sunday as well as two to three choral pieces. Bovin said pieces are chosen to “align with each concert’s theme” and to “fulfill our mission of amplifying local voices fighting systems of oppression and building justice in our community.”

Bovin said in the current polarized political climate the Justice Choir hopes its voice can be heard above the din and make a difference in the community.

“There is so much polarization, taking sides, anger and refusal to listen in today’s social and political climate. But music is a universal language, something everyone can connect to in some way,” she said. “When words alone can’t carry messages of justice and solidarity through the barriers that exist in society, adding music gives the opportunity to be heard.

“A choir is a collection of voices, and we want to use our voices to amplify the work toward social justice and a better community that is already being done around us.”

The concert is at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, at Trinity United Methodist Church, at 1100 Lake Drive SE. All are welcome. Admission is free. A freewill offering will be accepted to benefit Arbor Circle and the ongoing programming of Justice Choir GR. People are asked to RSVP.

If you are interested in joining the Justice Choir as a singer or volunteer, contact the organization at justicechoirgr@gmail.com, or by finding Justice Choir GR on Facebook.

*Photos courtesy of Justice Choir GR

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