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Streets Sounds lifting voices at Alpine County event

Staff reports

The Alpine County Arts Commission will present Street Sounds Saturday, June 26, 8 p.m., at the theater at Lake Tahoe Community College, One College Drive, South Lake Tahoe.

The human voice, a gift, finds poetic expression in Street Sounds, an a cappella quintet from Oakland, Calif. “A cappella” is defined as singing without instruments, but, in reality, the group sings with a powerful instrument, the human voice.

Beginning in medieval times, the Italian phrase “a cappella” literally meant “from the chapel” because only the human voice, being the work of God, was thought pure enough to be allowed inside church. But “a cappella” isn’t only spiritual music. Many of the world’s oldest cultures have used the voice to express aspects of life from celebration to work to death. The human voice creates the music and the message simultaneously.

Street Sounds combines traditional contemporary sounds to bring a message of joy, peace and social justice among all world cultures.

Louise Robinson, artistic director, is a founding member of the internationally acclaimed a cappella quintet Sweet Honey in the Rock, with Bernice Reagon, who was recently written up in the February 1999 issue of Smithsonian magazine. Reagon describes Louise Robinson by saying, “Her singing is fiery, intense, deeply committed. She creates vocally as a sound mirror reflecting our lives and our memories, making us believe in our going on.”

Rhonda Crane grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and developed her early talents in the Baptist church. In college, she organized the Rhoda Hudson Singers. Crane graduated from acting school and also works as vocal arranger and youth instructor at the Edward Hawkers Music and Arts National Seminar.

Bryan Dyer began his musical career in church but learned various instruments such as trumpet, piano, baritone horn and percussion in public school. Dryer sounds like a string bass and disguises as other instruments in various numbers in keeping with the quintet’s intent to display the voice as instrument.

Michelle Jacques, a native of New Orleans, is an original member of Street Sounds. Her artistic career began at age 7. She has studied acting, modern dance, tap, ballet and violin. Her love of music began with folk music. Her professional credits include studio recordings for radio and television commercials, performer in “Women in Reggae,” vocals for Oakland Ensemble Theatre and performances at the United Nations World Conference of Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.

Steven Thomas began his career at age 7 with the Oakland Ballet. he choreographs for various Bay area theaters and has taught K-12 students. Besides acting in “The Wiz,” “Ain’t Misbehavin'” and “Guys and Dolls,” he was a featured dancer in “Carmen Jones” for the Oakland Opera. He also makes radio and television commercials.

Tickets are limited, so reserve early by calling the Alpine County Arts Commission at (530) 694-2787. Proceeds will provide art education opportunities for Alpine County students. Tickets will be available at the door the day of the performance, beginning at 2 p.m. Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children.

This event is made possible, in part, by a grant from the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.