SAN DIEGO — When a singing group is created in 1939, sometimes the music it performs needs fresh eyes and a fresh sound. In this Zevely Zone, I met San Diego's oldest continuous operating choral club.
I met the Choral Club of San Diego for their first rehearsal of the season at the Wesley Palms Retirement Community. Before our encounter, I studied up on their past performances online which included songs like the classic hit "New York, New York." The Choral Club of San Diego sings in perfect tune but that doesn't always mean harmony.
"It's a wonderful group of women who are a lot of fun and a little edgy sometimes," said Doris Bricker.
She is one of the members of the singing group that has been existence for 80 years which is wonderful for tradition but can lead to a group getting stodgy.
Recently, the group shook things up and branched out to artists such as Beyonce, Madonna and more.
"Lady Gaga?" I asked.
"Listen, I was one of the ones who said 'you've got to be kidding,'" said Doris. "Being the mature person that I am, I said 'what?' I was totally wrong because it came out great."
Lisa Merrill, another member of the group, then told me she wasn't sure they could pull off Britney Spears.
"And the answer is 'yes and you can have a lot of fun doing it,'" said Lisa. "We rock - we rock when it all comes together."
Or in other words, as Maggie Taylor, the board chair, told me they found a magical moment: "The angels sing and but it's really just the choral club."
That's just what the group's musical director Dr. Kyle Adam Blair was looking for when he looked to put his spin on Toto's song "Africa" recently covered by the rock band Weezer.
"It doesn't do anything wildly differently from the original," said Dr. Blair.
He was being nice but the group told me Dr. Blair was disappointed by the Weezer version.
"Well that is part of why Kyle wanted to do it because Weezer covered it, and they did not cover it very well and he decided he would cover it better," said Caron Andregg, the group's executive director.
I started to feel like a double agent and had to disclose something to the entire group:
"I'm kind of a a big Weezer fan so you guys better bring it," I said.
The Choral Club of San Diego was supposed to practice their holiday songs on this night but instead they accepted my challenge and sang "Africa."
Fill a room with strong vocals and personalities you may just find a sound bigger than Mount Kilimanjaro itself. I could not have been more impressed and I think I'll be back when they take Lady Gaga and Madonna for a spin!
The nonprofit group is dedicated to promoting public appreciation of choral and vocal music. The singers and musicians perform at area retirement homes, community events, and corporate functions. The organization also provides an annual scholarship for vocal performance students.
If you'd like to audition for the Choral Club of San Diego or learn more about their upcoming concerts and fundraising go to ChoralClubOfSD.org.