Trans Chorus of Los Angeles’ VOICES: OF SPRINGTIME showcase recap by Brennen Beckwith, with additional reporting by Daniela “Dani” Capistrano
TCLA’s VOICES: OF SPRINGTIME showcase took place April 29-30, 2023, at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre, honoring the voice of the “Trans Spirit” with songs and prose of perseverance, determination, laughter, and joy.
With their poignant setlist performed by a talented chorus of trans, nonbinary, intersex, and gender non-conforming musicians, Trans Chorus of Los Angeles’ charismatic Artistic Director Abdullah “Abby” Hall made sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
WHAT IS TRANS CHORUS
The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles is the first all trans-identified chorus in America, consisting of transgender, non-binary, intersex, gender nonconforming and genderfluid singers and musicians. The chorus was born out of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles in 2015 with the intent of creating a chorus that represents the gender expansive community in music.
“Through our music we bring to the world awareness, understanding, power and victory for the Trans Community.”TCLA Website
Sponsored by the The Los Angeles LGBT Center, Trans Chorus has performed at hundreds of events across Southern California, including the 30th Annual Models of Pride with Trixie Matel, DTLA Proud Festival, and Connie Norman Transgender Empowerment Center’s Trans Day of Joy. TCLA has been featured on Pride 365 on DisneyPlus, Book Of Queer on Discovery+, and more.
Lead by Executive Director Kathryn Davis and Artistic Director Abdullah “Abby” Hall, the chorus has succeeded in creating an uplifting and supportive environment for trans musicians and vocalists.
VOICES: OF SPRINGTIME CONCERT
Performing at the Renberg Theatre across from the LA LGBT Center, TCLA centered themes of hope, empowerment, and self love.
Starting with the song “The Storm Is Passing Over” by Charles Tindley, I knew Abby Hall wouldn’t shy away from addressing the difficult times trans people are facing right now. Its hard to uplift and celebrate trans voices without also confronting the discrimination, fear, and suffering we’re going through.
The set list perfectly represented the complex emotions that trans people are feeling in this moment. With 22 pieces, all beautiful and moving in their own right, its hard to choose just what to highlight. However, my personal favorite all chorus performances were “Here Comes The Sun,” “Not My Fathers Son,” and “Proud.”
Guest pianist Carey Byron blew the audience away, to audible gasps, with her performance of the highly complicated composition Chopin Etude in 5 Major, No. 8. Maybe there’s a more sophisticated way to put this, but it sounded like she had extra hands.
Guest singer Maggie Szabo, an award winning trans pop artist, performed two of her originals “Don’t Give Up” and “Rebuild,” two beautifully moving songs with guitar accompaniment from guest musician David Kirk Grant.
Trans Chorus member Ryn Jorgensen performed the first solo of the night: “Sure On This Shining Night.” Their soprano voice was mesmerizing. Ryn is a professional composer who is featured on the Grammy nominated Album The Lost Birds and HBO’s Black Boy Joy.
Beyond music, this magical event featured two thoughtful monologues: “Breaking The Shell From The Inside Out,” written and performed by Vicky Mitchell, and “Girl in a Boy Body,” written and performed by Kathryn Davis.
As trans elders they shared their experiences with transness; how they found themselves and how they look to the new generation of the trans community with hope.
Oliver Brake, one of the youngest chorus members at 19, shared a powerful and moving voice while performing “Lost In The Stars.”
Anthony Daniel blessed us with another uplifting and fun solo in “I’m Still Standing.” He brought an energy and joy to the stage that brightened the hall and drew in the enraptured audience.
Abdullah “Abby” Hall
Artistic Director Abby Hall rightfully claimed their spotlight performing “The Impossible Dream.” They also performed with chorus members for “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round,” an African American spiritual piece that Trans Chorus is known for.
Finally, Abby and Trans Chorus closed out the night singing “Victorious,” a collaborative song created by Trans Chorus that left the crowd with a sense of joy and hope.
WHAT TRANS CHORUS MEANS TO TRANS PEOPLE
Trans people face systemic barriers in all aspects of life. We are even told that we have to choose between gender-affirming care or showcasing our singing voice.
Thankfully, LA Trans Chorus proves that trans people don’t have to choose.
Trans people can cultivate beautiful singing voices at every step of their transition, as long as they have a supportive environment.
Trans Chorus is a beautiful act of trans love, triumph, and community support. They uplift the trans singers in their chorus and their audiences. I, and everyone around me, left the theater in total awe of their creation.
Witnessing trans art can help temporarily suspend the fear of being trans in this world. Trans Chorus serves to remind us all that trans voices are radiant and powerful.
We will never be so easily silenced.
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