Rotarian Joe Stabb introduced our program, The Appalachian Equality Chorus, led by Artistic Director Dr. Alan Stevens. The program began with the chorus singing three songs: ”Let the River Run”, “The Love That Will Never Grown Old”, and “Celebrate, Dance to the Music.”

Director Stevens, an ETSU Music Professor, then provided some of the history and mission of The Appalachian Chorus.  Founded in 2012 by Bleu Copas and Christopher Hamblin, the Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus held their first performance at Knox Pride with fifteen members.  It now has 70-80 members. In 2013, KGMC joined the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses and received it’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.  The KGMC then transitioned into the Appalachian Equality Chorus to include members from all communities.  In 2018, the Chorus revised its mission and adopted it first vision statement, renewing it dedication to being “Voices for Equality.” KGMC advocates and fights for visibility, recognition, and equality for all persons and now includes persons of all genders, gender identities, and sexualities.

The chorus has been embraced by the Knoxville Arts Community and utilizes the historic Bijou Theatre as its primary concert venue. During the COVID-19 pandemic years, the chorus could not hold in person concerts, but used those years as an opportunity for recordings and on-line dialogue from the community at large.  The Chorus envisions a world free of discrimination in which all persons are empowered to live authentic lives true to their identities, without fear.  We use our voices, strengths, and individual gifts to create enriching musical experiences; promote inclusion, equality, and empathy; end hostility toward minority populations; and better our work through community partnerships.

Mr. Stevens concluded his remarks by inviting others to get involved.  He stated that music and the arts are about bringing people together and can serve as a connector to find common ground.  He thanked Rotary for its support and for what Rotary does for our community.

The chorus ended the program by singing one more song: “This Is Why We Sing.”