Everybody's Got a Place in the Choir

Sopranos, altos, tenors and basses - by themselves they may not be anything special, but combine them in a choir with a good conductor and they can become something spectaular. Here are some choirs - some are a source of community strength, some are a source of murderous anger.

Singing in the Comeback Choir

By Bebe Moore Campbell

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"Maxine McCoy has made it. She has overcome the odds she faced as a black woman from a working-class Philadelphia neighborhood to become a successful television producer in Los Angeles. She loves her hardworking, ambitious husband and is pregnant with her first child. She does worry, though, that the shows she produces are of no social value. But even this concern drops away when she receives a phone call from the caretaker of her seventy-year-old grandmother and learns she has to return to Philadelphia.

"Orphaned at an early age, Maxine grew up with her grandmother Lindy, a singing star. Lindy is now a smoking, drinking, embittered women whose glorious voice has atrophied from disuse, and the house that used to swing with laughter and music is dim and lifeless. Lindy's once striving neighborhood has become a blighted, crime-infested area. Yet after a few days there, Maxine realizes that Lindy and Sydenham Street itself have been the source of her own strength and success, and she is moved to help both reclaim their glory."

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Empire of the Sun

By J. G. Ballard

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This autobiographical novel tells the story of Jim the choir boy, the pampered child of a wealthy English couple living in Shanghai as the Japanese army begins the invasion of China. Separated from his parents Jim is interned with other Europeans and Americans and receives little help or sympathy from the adults around him. It is a harrowing tale made into a wonderful film by Steven Spielberg. The haunting sound of the boys choir on the film's soundtrack is a perfect symbol of the author's lost childhood.

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