Two immensely talented young women recently made the most of a unique opportunity by representing their state and our community in impressive fashion.
Jocelyn Trimmer and Brooklynn Stanley were selected as the only two girls from Ohio to attend the “Let Freedom SING!” Girlchoir National Convention, hosted by the Pennsylvania Girlchoir & Commonwealth Youthchoirs. The first-ever six-day choral festival, held in Philadelphia July 24-29, brought together two female high school singers from each of the 50 states not only to sing, but to celebrate the beauty of “Girlchoirs” in its unique ability to bring girls and young women from all walks of life together and unite them through the power of song.
Both Jocelyn and Brooklynn just began their freshmen years at Washington C.H. High School. Both are members of the high school choir, the marching band, and will participate in the musical.
“I believe they’re planning on making this an annual event, but this was the first one,” said Nyleah Trimmer, Jocelyn’s mother, and local choreographer and dance team advisor at Washington High School. “The convention was held during the week of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The excitement of it all made it very awesome for the girls with Hillary Clinton being the first woman nominated by a major party for President of the United States. And the fact that there were just two girls representing every state made it very special. Jocelyn and Brooklynn are really talented and it was nice for them to get to be there with the other talented girls who were already musically-inclined and love to sing.”
Throughout the week, the girls went “sight singing” at several historic locations in and around the city of Philadelphia. It was a hybrid of sight-seeing and informal, impromptu, singing opportunities. The sight singing itinerary included the Betsy Ross House, the Boat House Row, Comcast Center, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Center, Penn’s Landing, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (with the famous Rocky steps), Reading Terminal Market, and more.
“It was kind of a whirlwind,” said Brooklynn, who is the daughter of Holly Stanley, choir director at Miami Trace High School. “We only found out about a week-and-a-half to two weeks before we left. At first I was kind of freaked out because we had to learn about nine songs in a week and some of them were in different languages. So we were in the car traveling to Philadelphia still trying to learn the songs.”
Despite the accelerated process, the girls learned the songs – many of them patriotic selections and a few with some Philadelphia flavor. The song selection included “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America,” the “Star Spangled Banner” and a medley from the movie “Rocky.”
“By the end of the week, you sang them so many times, we had them down,” said Jocelyn. “We did an acapella version of the song, ‘I Wanna See You Be Brave,’ by Sara Bareilles. It was so cool because when we went to the art museum, we sang it there and Ben Folds (a well-known singer-songwriter) was there. He tweeted about our performance and said we did a good job. Then Sara Bareilles saw a video of us and said she was so honored and impressed.”
The girls received a lot of attention during their tour, from the crowds during their performances, to appearances on Fox News and the Today Show in downtown Philadelphia. “They were just all over the news….it was awesome,” said Nyleah.
“All of these opportunities just kept coming up, like the Today Show,” said Jocelyn. “We really didn’t have much free time at all, but that’s okay. It was a great experience.”
If this wasn’t enough, there was also the controlled chaos of the Democratic National Convention throughout the week. “There were a lot of protesters,” Jocelyn said. “It was kind of crazy, but also cool to see.”
The singer-delegates were accommodated with home-stays – individuals affiliated with mobile choirs who opened their homes for the girls. Home base for the choir was Arcadia University, where the final concert of the week was held.
“At the Arcadia, we sang a song for a woman who was actually in the Holocaust,” said Brooklynn. “She told us that one time in her concentration camp, there were some people who tried to escape. And for punishment, they made all of the camp members stand in a line for like 14 hours in the bitter cold in November. She was little at the time and said that to survive, her and her friend sang from the opera Brundibar. She was actually one of the original cast members in that musical. It was just a very powerful moment hearing that story.”
Although this could be perceived as a once-in-a-lifetime experience for this inaugural Girlchoir, it may not be the end. “They’ve been offered a couple of invitations to reconvene this choir and of course they realize it may not be possible for all of these girls to do another trip in six months,” said Nyleah. “But they would offer it to these original girls first.”
The first opportunity would be to sing at the United Nations in New York next May, the same month of a national conference for women.
“Then there was another opportunity that was kind of rumored about,” said Jocelyn. “We could get a chance to sing the Star Spangled Banner at the presidential inauguration in January, if Hillary wins.”
Whether these opportunities materialize or not, Brooklynn and Jocelyn treasured this phenomenal experience in Philadelphia.
“What they kept telling us throughout is, no matter what’s going on in the world and with all of this bad stuff happening, we can all unite through music. I think we proved that by each state coming together through music.”
“I think it was just about getting this opportunity,” said Jocelyn. “If you get an opportunity like this, you have to take it. You can’t just pass things up like this because you might not get another chance.”
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica.