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Cut & Paste: From coming out to staying safe, Charis has sung about tough issues since 1993

Members of the Charis women's chorus perform at a recent event, in this file photo.
Provided | Charis
Members of the Charis women's chorus perform at a recent event.

In the early 1990s, same-sex relations were illegal, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy helped keep closet doors sealed shut, and marriage equality for same-sex couples was unthinkable.

In that environment, a group of St. Louis lesbian singers wondered: "Where can we find a safe and comfortable place to enjoy making music?" They created Charis, a women’s chorus that’s still lifting its voice — and audiences' spirits — nearly 25 years later.

In our latest Cut & Paste podcast, we talk with older and more recent members of the group about keeping pace with the history of the LGBT community.

Here’s some of what you’ll hear in the podcast:

  • Sharon Spurlock on her 23 years with the group: “For me, Charis became my longest-term relationship.”

  • Claire Minnis, upon hearing about an artistic director opening at Charis, “That’s everything I ever dreamed of and never knew I could have.”

  • Katie Benoit on being one of the first transgender women in the chorus: “One of the board members told me, ‘The only real concern is whether or not my singing voice would blend in.'"
Cut & Paste

Look for new Cut & Paste (#cutpastestl) podcastsevery few weeks on our website. You can also view all previous podcasts focusing on a diverse collection of visual and performing artists, and subscribe to Cut & Paste through this link.

The podcast is sponsored by SPACE Architecture + Design.

Follow Willis and Nancy on Twitter: @WillisRArnoldand @NancyFowlerSTL

Please help St. Louis Public Radio find artists to feature on Cut & Paste. Tell us which artists and cultural themes deserve a closer look.

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.