"FROM ONE VOICE, CAME MANY"
HOW IT ALL BEGAN...Told by Len McCulloch
I was working as a Psychotherapist in a rehabilitation facility for people recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries when a unique patient came to our program. The man had spent the previous eighteen years in State Hospital. He was distinctive because we knew he could talk, but he wouldn't. One day, someone told me they had heard him singing! When I saw him next, I said "I know you don't like to talk but, can you sing?" He belted out a beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace." I’m not sure why, but my response was, "We have a Choir now and you are it!" He and I met in my office and communicated by singing simple songs back and forth. After a while, he eventually began talking!
In the mean time, other patients heard our singing, asked me about the choir, and joined. Soon, we grew in numbers and gave our first public performance. It took place at a talent show held by the Brain Injury Association of Michigan at their Annual Conference. We sang 5 simple songs and wore borrowed choir robes from a local church. We didn't produce a musical masterpiece, but we were a hit with the crowd and were invited back on the spot to perform the following year.
Over the years, we have put on over 160 FREE shows (please click here to see a list of some of our performance venues). We have performed for the entire Michigan Legislative body for 14 years in a row to kick-off March as Brain Injury Awareness Month and now promoting Choir Therapy Month in Michigan. We have also sung at 12 Annual Christmas Concerts at the Historic Detroit Rescue Mission. In addition, we have produced 4 PBS Specials and 5 CDs.
In addition to providing FREE shows, we also donate clothing we collect from the community to the Historic Detroit Rescue Mission. One year we clothed 3,000 homeless!
More recently, we began to take the Therapy Choir concept to the next level by forming our own Michigan 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Organization, which we named The Therapy Choirs of Michigan. We started our second Choir at the Macomb Oakland Regional Center (MORC) and set the predominant focus on helping people with developmental disabilities.
Although we don't know what the future has in store, we know one thing: it will be exciting!