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Cut & Paste: Men's Chorus changes tune as members explore gender, race, mental health

Kevin Gardner is a Gateway Men's Chorus member and an Master Sergeant in the Air Force.
Carolina Hidalgo| St. Louis Public Radio



The deep camaraderie of singing with other gay men drew Kevin Gardner to St. Louis’ Gateway Men’s Chorus. Eleven years later, the Air Force Master Sergeant believes it’s time for the group to broaden its focus.


Gardner, a black, gay man, was all for the group’s original idea for a spring performance that would concentrate on gay men and their families. But several significant events of this last year weighed heavily on his mind and that of chorus artistic director Robert Stumpf.


In August, St. Louis police shot and killed Kiwi Herring, a black, transgender woman. Two months later, a judge found former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, who is white, not guilty of murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man.

Robert Stumpf has been artistic director of the Gateway Men's Chorus for two years.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo| St. Louis Public Radio
Robert Stumpf has been artistic director of the Gateway Men's Chorus for two years.



The reimagined concert, “We Will Rise,”focuses on race, gender and mental health.


The way Gardner grew up, mental illness was something you kept to yourself.


“Don’t talk to a person or family or friends because they might think you’re nuts,” Gardner said.


In our latest Cut & Paste podcast, we talk with Gardner and Stumpf about the March 16-17 performance at Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union Blvd., and how their lives have been affected by the kinds of discrimination the concert seeks to address.


Look for new Cut & Paste (#cutpastestl) podcastsevery few weeks on our website. You can also find 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 JEMA Architects, Planners and Designers.

Follow Nancy on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

Please help St. Louis Public Radio find creative people to feature on Cut & Paste. Tell us which artists and cultural drivers 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.