Desert Voices "Why I Sing" Member Profiles
Becca Carroll (Soprano)
WHO I AM: I am 44, an avid birdwatcher, and a transplant to Tucson from the SF Bay Area. I ought to be a native, though, since my parents met & married in Tucson and only later moved away and had me, an inherent desert rat. I graduated with a BA in Dramatic Art, minoring in Ethnic Studies, and achieved Phi Beta Kappa while attending U.C. Berkeley. This is my 10th season with Desert Voices.
As an adult, I kept seeking warmer climes, and new birds to see, within the Bay Area until my second company-wide layoff in 4 years prompted me to follow my mother and stepfather to Tucson, a birder’s mecca. But I was very lucky to grow up where and when I did, with the family and community and schools and church that I had--I was never taught to hate myself or others.
I work in accounting, love to write, and I live with Pat, my amazing, funny and wonderful partner of 6 years; 3 cats; and a pit bull, whose kisses, grins and wiggles have taught me to love this much-maligned breed.
WHY I SING: I grew up with music: Dad sang in church choirs and Mom played piano. Even my tone-deaf step-dad performed in church musicals. Julie Andrews records sang me to sleep when I was little; when I got a bit older, I hummed along to the Star Wars soundtracks, not just the melodies, mind you, but the ENTIRE soundtracks. I think they’re still committed to memory!
I regularly sang in school choruses, later church choirs, and learned to play piano, clarinet and oboe, playing in various youth orchestras. The concept of music-as-ministry in my life first really hit me when I performed in Hair at my Catholic high school (!!). The spirit of it, the social justice message, set to really cool tunes, still rings true.
Years later, another huge highlight for me was singing Mozart’s Requiem here in Tucson during the worldwide Rolling Requiem on the first anniversary of 9/11. Music, specifically singing, has become my ministry, of sorts…not about religion or God, as I’m adamantly agnostic, but about justice, spirit, fun, healing and community.
WHY I SING WITH DESERT VOICES: I joined Desert Voices because I had previously attended a fun and moving holiday concert, and my girlfriend at the time was already a member. I stayed after the breakup because I had found a home and family here.
I am still here 10 years later! I love the variety of music. I love the high performance standards to which we’ve been held. I love how we welcome everyone. I don’t think I’d stick around if we were limited in composition or had to identify a certain way—inclusivity is too important to me, and while I enjoy hearing all-women’s or men’s groups, I much prefer to sing with mixed voices.
I love how we lovingly challenge each other and our audience to learn and grow and heal, so often through laughter. And attending the 2012 GALA Choruses Festival in Denver together was an amazing experience, akin to the Olympics, joining our brother/sister LGBTQIA choruses from all over the world in song.
I love how much fun we have. I have sung under a number of choral directors in my life, but my two extra-favorites have been right here with Desert Voices because of their breadth of knowledge and ability, commitment to excellence, humor, and friendship. But it runs even deeper than that: I love them as brothers.
I love that my dad now sings in DV, too, and that my partner serves on the Board. It’s truly a family affair! I love how I have grown musically and personally through weaving Desert Voices into my life. I can’t think of a better place to sing.
Sylvia Kerns Yeager (Alto)
WHO I AM
I am 79+ years old, an Alto, and this is my 34th season with Desert Voices. My partner Becky and I have been together for 25 years as of tomorrow!
I was raised in Indiana and graduated with a BA in Health, Physical Education & Recreation. I moved to Rochester, NY and taught Physical Education & Health at the college level until 1983, when I moved to Sonoita, AZ with my husband & two children.
I opened a restaurant there, The Cactus Flower, which I ran for 10 years. My marriage ended during that time, but then I met these women on motorcycles ……..! Not too long after, I sold the restaurant and moved to Tucson (to be with gay people!), where I worked in the Parks and Rec Dept. until retirement in 2001.
WHY I SING
All my life I have been involved with singing. It is an essential need for me. I especially loved singing at Girl Scout camp where all music was a cappella, and I could harmonize to my heart’s content. I sang in church choirs for 30 years. I even formed a trio in the restaurant with two of my workers where we entertained our diners and sometimes out in the community.
WHY I SING WITH DESERT VOICES
I joined Desert Voices, at the urging of friends. I had no idea of the impact it would have on my life! Joining a GALA singing group gave me a vehicle for coming out slowly to my family and coworkers. Or so I had planned....
However, more quick public exposure came via a group photo published on the front page of the entertainment section of the Tucson Citizen. But you know what? The public announcement of my "gayness" made no difference to the people I worked with and saw on a daily basis. That, along with my DV family, has given me the strength and yes courage to keep coming out and supporting the LGBT community.
As an older member of the chorus, it has been challenging at times as far as memorization is concerned. But, as some of us grey haired folk claim, we are preventing Alzheimer's by continuing to use our little gray cells!
Being a part of this group has allowed me, over the years, to exercise my satiric sense of humor in the parodies I have written for a quartet composed of a variety of wonderful women with me as the “reining baritone". I thank all singers and especially the artistic directors, past and present, for indulging me.
When I fantasize about retiring from the group, I begin to think about the people I would have missed getting to know had I done so. Not knowing these many fabulous people would have been a huge loss. And since my partner continues to encourage me and is a non-singing member of Desert Voices herself, previously as office manager and now as a Board Member, retirement is not even in the long range picture.
As a mixed chorus, not only do we have men, women, and transgender people, we have all ages, backgrounds and personalities. We come together as a family and, together, we make wonderful music. I am so proud and thankful to be a member of Desert Voices. This is WHY I SING.