Sitting around several tables in the Triangle Square community room, members of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Senior Chorus rehearse the song We Need A Little Christmas from the Broadway musical Mame.
“We have to be really fun with this one,” group leader Keith Lamont tells the chorus. “Ham it up!”
The rehearsal was for the Chorus holiday concert held on Wednesday, December 19, at Triangle Square for residents and members of the general public.
The 10-member group performed renditions of such classics as Let It Snow, Blue Christmas, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, A Holly Jolly Christmas, as well as a reworked version of Baby, It’s Cold Outside.
“We’ve turned Baby, It’s Cold Outside into a song about a lesbian romance,” Lamont explains.
Chorus members rehearse each week for 90 minutes and have performed several other shows already this year, including one for the Hollywood Homeowners Association.
About half the members live at Triangle Square, the Center’s housing complex for LGBT seniors. Some members have extended musical experience, while others had never sung in front of a crowd before.
“I was in choir in junior high school 50 years ago,” says Belita Edwards, a retired Army veteran. “The group gives you a chance to be recognized and just feel good about yourself. This show gets you into the holiday mood. It’s a happy, happy, thing to do.”
Group member Sayuri Segal had her own band when she was a teenager in her native Japan and played the piano, drums, and guitar. Segal, who currently teaches Japanese to American students, has remained musical and was excited to join the chorus.
“It’s been a long time since I had my band in Japan, but I’ve been singing since I was four years old,” Segal says. “Everybody in this chorus is different, but we all work together really well. I really enjoy it. I enjoy memorizing the words to the songs and performing for the seniors.”
Kiera Pollock, director of Senior Services, has seen first-hand how the chorus helps seniors connect with each other, improves memory, and contributes to overall health through the social connection.
“Studies have shown that seniors who sing have reduced doctor visits, fewer eyesight problems, lower levels of depression, fewer falls, and less needs for medication,” Pollock points out. “We know singing helps people and I’m pleased that our program can help improve the lives of seniors through singing and sharing that music with others through public performance.”
The Center’s Senior Services offers more than 100 different activities and events each month, including support groups, health and fitness classes, and various cultural workshops. To learn more, including upcoming activities and workshops, visit lalgbtcenter.org/seniors.