By Russ Weeks, Singing Member
Six years ago this month I was dating an amazing guy named Derek. He mentioned to me that he was auditioning for Turtle Creek Chorale, and I should join him. I had only seen one Turtle Creek Chorale Christmas show, and I was, of course, blown away. I couldn’t imagine that someone like me could be part of such astounding talent. I thought it would be difficult to qualify for an internationally renowned men’s chorus. The more Derek talked about it, the more I thought, “Why not?” I had loved music for as long as I can remember. From the moment I could hear, music was part of me.
Derek and I didn’t continue to date, but I auditioned, and I’ve been a singing member of Turtle Creek Chorale for six years and counting. My quality of life has improved exponentially in those six resounding years. Singing with and belonging to Turtle Creek Chorale adds so much to my life.
TCC has afforded me the opportunity to sing on numerous stages with hundreds of brothers in song. I have been exposed to numerous genres of music that I wouldn’t have ever encountered otherwise. I have also been able to sing with celebrities, local and international. One of my favorite moments was singing with the immensely talented and gracious Sandi Patty. Growing up, my home was filled with her music, and it was an enormous honor and spiritual experience to sing with her.
While the actual concert performances are magical, sometimes the weekly rehearsals are most special to me. As with anything in life, the real beauty comes in the journey and the process. I have had countless “laughter through tears” moments in rehearsal. I remember one of my favorite rehearsals which happened to also be my birthday. We were rehearsing a beautiful song, and I looked over at my friend Stephen, and he mouthed, “Happy Birthday; I love you.” I was overwhelmed with gratitude, and my eyes filled with happy tears in that moment. Week after week, we turtle brothers show up to rehearsal, and regardless of what’s going on in our personal lives, we open our binders and our hearts and pour out our souls. Our souls intermingle with each other and something unimaginable happens.
I’ve been blessed to sing under three brilliant conductors in the past five years. I’ve learned so much from each of them. I’ve learned about musicianship, leadership, brotherly love, and so much more. I’ve learned that I’m a quiet leader, as well. People from work and in my personal life have even commented on how being in the chorale has helped me to show who I really am and to take ownership of my strengths and share them more openly.
TCC has helped me realize just how funny I am. Last Christmas, our current artistic director, Sean Baugh, believed that I would be right for a comedic role in the show. So I put on a skirt suit and a teased out wig, and I kind of brought the house down. I was so proud of myself in that moment. I love to make people laugh, and Turtle Creek Chorale allowed me to do that. During Jangled, when I played Marge Williams, my family came to one of the shows. I was worried my mom might be a little embarrassed, but when I greeted her in the lobby in my Marge garb, she beamed with pride, smiled from ear-to-ear, and shouted, “Oh my GOSH! Can I get my picture made with you?!?!” I will never forget that moment. You’re never too old to be affirmed by a proud parent.
We all need that extra something that adds a layer of depth to our lives. For some it’s running or writing or quilting or acting. The list goes on. I hope you’ve found that extra layer. For me it is music. And when I’m standing onstage with my Turtle Brothers, there are intangible, yet palpable moments of sound that emanate between us. Then those extraordinary moments of sound project out to the audience, and the audience gives it right back to us. That is a feeling like nothing else in the world. I’m so grateful to TCC (and to Derek!) for giving me this gift and for allowing me to share the experience with my brothers and the many audiences, past, present and future.
If you’re interesting in becoming a member, please sign up here, and a member will reach out to you with more information.