It was 2005 when the idea for a jazz choir was first pitched to Wendy Nixon Stothert.
“I was at a choir practice,” she said. “Sean Mooney (pianist) and I were standing at the reception area after the practice and one of the singers (Sheila Tully) came up to me and said ‘when are you going to start jazz choir?’ I said I had no immediate plans to – I had just had a baby, so my kids were two years old and six months old at that point. Forming a jazz choir was not even a thought. But Sean was standing right next to me and he said ‘let’s do it. If you do it, I’m in.’”
Mooney and Nixon Stothert met over coffee the next week, put a notice in the paper to gauge interest and found out the interest was high.
“Seventy-five people showed up to the meeting,” said Nixon Stothert. “That was shocking. I totally didn’t expect that.”
“The original plan was just to have a 16-person auditioned choir, but when that many people showed up for the meeting, she decided she’d better make a big one as well,” said Trevor Roberts, one of the original members of Just in Time Jazz Choirs, remembering that first meeting.
“The choir I was in folded that year so I needed something to do for the following year. When Wendy told me she was going to be auditioning, I figured I would go to the meeting – I really wasn’t sure I was even audition material. But I went and I have to say, there were so many people, it was really overwhelming.”
“I had no idea there would be that much interest. It was really exciting,” said Nixon Stothert. “But then again, we live in such a musically active community, looking back, it really shouldn’t have come as such a surprise.”
Ronda Kuehl had just moved to the Comox Valley in the summer of 2005 and overheard a conversation about the choir at a store.
“I overheard Wendy’s mother talking to someone else about a jazz choir her daughter was starting and I love jazz, so I … asked her for her daughter’s number,” said Kuehl. “I joined the big choir and did not even know there was an auditioned group until the first concert – didn’t even know they existed. As soon as I heard them I knew I wanted in. So the next auditions I got in, and I’ve been a part of it ever since.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Ten years of history.
It will all be revisited this weekend, as the Just in Time Jazz Choirs perform its 10th anniversary show at the Sid Williams Theatre.
Saturday’s show at the Sid Williams Theatre will feature all three Just in Time choirs – the Unplugged group (55 singers, not auditioned), the Jazzy Jems (15 women, auditioned) and Vocal Minority (mixed, auditioned group) – singing their “Greatest Hits” from the last 10 years.
They will be joined on stage by the Comox Valley Children’s choir for one segment.
Moody (piano), Anela Kahiamoe (guitar), Oscar Robles Diaz (drums) and Britt Bowman (bass) will supply the accompaniment.
The song list for the concert was selected by current and past choir members, through a voting process from a list of about 200 songs that the choir has performed over the past decade.
Nixon Stothert didn’t want to spoil the surprises by revealing the entire set list, but was willing to give a little insight into the concert.
“I based this set list on what they chose,” she said. “Bohemian Rhapsody was the overwhelming favourite so we will be doing that one. The set list is not that surprising for me, because people gravitate towards the familiar, so there are a lot of familiar songs that we will sing.
“The concert is a mix of swing, Latin, pop, blues, Gospel and folk, and ballads.”
The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Sid Williams box office, or online at www.sidwilliamstheatre.com