Our vision is that young persons of color can find themselves in the majority in this choir, mentored by young adult coleaders also of color and that the children are empowered and encouraged by the messages of the songs, by the fact that most songs are written by people of color, and that they receive a music education and gain confidence not only as singers but as leaders.

Harmony Youth Choir - one part of the trio of Kate Saphir’s Musical Soulmates (Suzuki Piano Studio, Harmony Youth Choir, and Performer’s Collective), nurtures the whole child through music. Each session builds community through disciplined and joyful music making. Students receive vocal training, learn diction, movement, positive message songs, music reading through hand motions, and ear training from coleaders. The Harmony Youth Choir develops the next generation of youth leaders in music while closing the racial gap in performance representation as young as six years old, and cultivates resilience and joy.

Harmony Youth Choir Debut (May 2022):

The Harmony Youth Choir debuted at the Music in May Community Music event at Starlight Elementary in Watsonville. The choir had had eight rehearsals, every rehearsal was co-lead by coleader, and each rehearsal had a guest musical contributor.The songs themselves were uplifitng, represented composers of color and covered a huge range (from ancient hymn, to Ba’hai faith, to new soul India.Arie and contemporary composers) All co leaders and contributors were, per the goal of HYC, people of color, and they broadened the learning greatly with their expertise, youth, and perspective, and their ability to relate to the choir, which is, by design, majority BIPOC.

Harmony Youth Choir Poster Harmony Youth Choir Poster

Thanks to a fundraising show by Kate’s Juneteenth Collective and to support from Music in May, every coleader and guest artist was paid for their time.

Collaborating with the world class musicians of Music in May festival was the culmination of a shared dream that Rebecca Jackson, founder, musical director, and performer for Music in May, Kate had brought to fruition.

When our choir director became ill, it was with profound joy and gratitude for our Suzuki community that I was able to call on Suzuki mom, Leticia, to direct the choir, and on former Suzuki piano student and current site manger, Eli Gilbert, to play piano for two of the songs. He actually learned the piano parts before flying back to California from college (he is at Yale University) to join us.
HYC Performance - Kate Conducting

HYC Performance - with Music in May

HYC Performance

Photos by Kevin Monahan, 2022 (kevin.monahan@me.com)

Harmony Youth Choir Concert Poster

About the Director and the vision for Harmony Choir:

The Harmony Choir grew out of a vision that Kate and Rebecca Jackson, founder of Music in May, share for serving underserved youth through music. The first performance of the Harmony Choir was on the Music in May stage on Thursday May 26th, in Watsonville at their Community Concert.

After a lifetime of Classical training and graduating from San Francisco Conservatory as a pianist, Kate had a musical awakening when attending the Santa Cruz Missionary Baptist Church. For 30 years, she has remained dedicated to Gospel music, and has also invested 30 years in learning how to teach piano effectively, nurturing, through the Suzuki philosophy students and their families. A member of Gospel Music workshop of America for 18 years, She has founded and taught Youth Gospel Choirs for decades here in Santa Cruz, most notably the MLK, Jr. Gospel Choir which performed, with Sista Monica, in 2003 on the stage of the Civic Center for the UCSC MLK Convocation.

After George Floyd and a re-awakening to the contemporary Santa Cruz Black community, she was moved to form her Juneteenth Collective to skillfully support BIPOC singers on the Juneteenth Santa Cruz stage to deliver American masterpiece songs of Freedom , Joy ,and Protest by such artists as Lauryn Hill, Nina Simon, and Common. She has asked her Collective to collaborate with her in order to pass on the joy and freedom of musical expression to majority BIPOC Youth, and is expanding her vision by inviting these amazing BIPOC musicians to co-lead the youth choir. The program is paying the mentors and speakers, all BIPOC, and giving them exposure and experience even while serving the BIPOC youth for almost no charge; Harmony Youth Choir is supported by Everyone’s Music School , Santa Cruz ( a Black owned business) and Music in May.