Reflections on the 2020 U.S. Election: Choruses, This is the Work Ahead

A Letter from Catherine Dehoney

President and CEO, Chorus America

Dear choral colleagues,

I spent election night watching a movie to keep anxiety at bay, with brief breaks to check on the news. Every update on the vote count felt like another confirmation of the division present in our country and the uncertainty we all face. At one point, my husband Bill turned to me with a tired sigh and said, “Choruses are great, but I don’t think you can sing your way out of this.”

Votes are still being counted in this consequential moment for the U.S. and the world, but the work at hand for Chorus America and our community is clear. Whatever the outcome of this election, we have a lot of important work to do.

We must work together to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Our communities need strong choruses to inspire and serve in the re-building to come, and we need each other to stay strong. That means staying connected about research and technology that provides new solutions and highlighting the amazing work choruses are continuing to do in the face of challenges. It also means making the case for our field’s value and need to legislators, funders, and other decision-makers who can offer support.

We must take action for racial and social justice. Let’s recognize the heightened focus on racism and injustice against Black Americans and people of color as an opportunity and an imperative to make meaningful change. Our research shows that choral singers value tolerance, respect diversity, and believe singing has made them more accepting of people who are different from them. We have a responsibility to leverage this foundation and the conversations that are happening in our field to take action in our organizations and communities.

We must use the power of singing together to bring people together. It would be an over-simplification – and even trite – to believe, as my husband said, that we can “sing our way out of this.” But there is real power in the way that choral music leads us to express our values, builds empathy and compassion, and heals pain. There is real power in people with different points of view creating beauty, inspiration, and connection together.

In times of uncertainty, I find purpose in building on what we know to be true. We know from our research that over 54 million people in the United States are choral singers. We know that those millions of people believe in the power of community and are willing to work for it. The sheer magnitude of that force for good gives me hope. 

I’m thinking of those millions of choral leaders and singers this week. I’m thinking of you. We will move forward together, singing.

Catherine Dehoney

President and CEO