Up until about 2 years ago I had only had one truly close friendship since college that I didn’t meet at work. One of those work relationships developed long past that job, but the others all ended every time I transitioned. Friends I had from college and after pretty much all got married and had families, leaving more and more married to work. When I moved to San Jose almost 6 years ago I ended up in a work environment that did not really harbor any friendships for me, and I became desperately lonely. My doctor had been recommending a website called meetup to me for several years, and I was lonely enough to start considering the possibility of facing my social anxiety to try something new. I really missed singing, but all of the local choirs I could find were very “official,” requiring auditions, money, strict attendance, and musical skills that I really don’t have. Then a coworker told me that she had once visited a meetup group called the San Jose Pop Up Choir, a small group of people that get together to sing karaoke at a little studio. I had never sung karaoke and, despite my love of performing, the idea terrified me. I checked out the meetup and the next one was going to a Sound of Music singalong at a movie theater. Now THAT I could do!!
I met Teresa and Kathleen at that theater, and the rest is history. The San Jose Pop Up Choir is now my family. I have found people like me there… single, professional, mid-30s, overworked and lonely in the Bay Area. I have found people a generation or two above me who are living proof that aging doesn’t have to be boring. I have found “kids” a generation below me, and been able to observe just how special and unique and admirable these beautiful snowflakes truly are – they endure a life far more rigorous than I ever have! I’ve watched people come to meet a New Year’s Resolution to overcome stage fright and a year later belt out Whitney Houston by themselves. I have found the friendships that I never expected in my tiny subgroup called Quarter to Ten. I have found family.
I love the tagline on our new website: Making friends one song at a time. Because, really, that is our priority. Honestly, we don’t care if you can “sing” or not (whatever that means). All we care about is that you will support an environment where people can make music with their voice and laugh together. And, shockingly (or maybe not so much), as people who think they can’t sing relax in a nonjudgmental environment, they suddenly discover that they CAN sing.
Because we are such a wonderful group, we are growing. This year we have grown a lot. When I became a “serious” member almost 2 years ago, we were lucky if 20 people showed up on a Friday night. Last night was special because it was the last karaoke night in our current space, but there were about 40 of us! We are performing more, putting on our own showcases, singing at events and fundraisers. We have never charged for a performance, unless it was to cover expenses; in those cases it is usually US that pays so our guests can enjoy the evening for free. Last year we raised over $3000 for victims of hurricane and fire disasters. Our stage is small, making rehearsals cramped and difficult, and it’s increasingly easier to trip over cables these days. We keep buying more equipment as we grow and become more active, but it’s expensive and breaks down. Some music can’t be performed at a formal event unless we can purchase licenses (Even songs like White Christmas!).
We’re in the process of moving to a new location (Well Sinohui is – we’re along for the ride), and we need to make some upgrades – a bigger stage, some better equipment, promotional material like business cards and postcards, things like that.
Will you help us?
Click here to read Sinohui’s story and watch a video of our signature song (in which for some reason I can’t keep my chin down).
This holiday season we will be doing lots of caroling – a toy drive and downtown Campbell to name two – and would love for you to join us!
Here are our two upcoming big events – we’d love to see you there!!
(Turn your sound up) – Free Holiday Concert