The Sound of Music
The Little-Big Choir
STC has always been blessed with great singers. In fact, I refused to sign the membership book until the congregation formed a choir. I wanted so desperately to sing with these incredible people. And singing was just the beginning. STC has had over five different choir configurations over the years, but one thing is common. All the successful choirs were A Cappella, and sang a lot of Sweet Honey in the Rock songs.
The tradition was cemented by having a former Sweet Honey member, the incredible Eveyln Harris, as the choir director. She was so formidable that one of the choir members once remarked that all great choir directors have two qualities in common "Diva, and Drill Sergeant, and our Eveyln has it all and then some". The choir, always loved by the congregation, was soon a favorite all over the Washington area. Although small in number, we seldom numbered over 6 to 8 members, it made a big sound. And soon became one the most notable features of our small quirky congregation.
More Than Hymns
The music of STC always reflected its racial diversity, with a special emphasis on African American musical traditions. As a result, the STC anthem, the UU principles set to music by a former minister coupled with "Ella's Song", usually rocks with a gospel beat.
On any given Sunday you can hear jazz, blues, gospel, Chinese melodies, drum solos, electric guitars, rap, arias, folk songs and pagan chants, and that doesn't include the recorded music! At one point we tried to pick a song out of the UU hymnal to learn each month, but that soon deteriorated, since we needed someone at each service that could sight-read or play the piano to help us learn the new songs. So we fell back in to singing what we liked, and it seems to work fine for us.
The black focus of the music is what, for many of us, makes it welcoming to a diverse crowd. It is accessible, and as long as there is at least one decent singer in attendance, it usually hits its mark. The point is that everyone wants to sing gospel style music even if they are atheist. So even if it sounds terrible, everyone has a good time trying. And since STC members are known for changing anything they don't like, often everyone is singing different lyrics as well -- which makes it very funny and confusing at times for visitors.