The Skid Row Choir
Every Wednesday evening as the sun wanes over the tent-lined streets of Skid Row in Los Angeles, a health clinic is filled with music. Singing flows through the waiting rooms and doctor’s offices, where patients and staff gently bob their heads to the music. “The choir is right in back,” a security guard tells me on my first visit to this clinic. “You’ll hear them – just follow the music.”
This is the Urban Voices Project: a choir of people who have experienced homelessness in Skid Row. The group performs weekly throughout the city, bringing music to the streets of Skid Row, to hospitals and nursing homes, even to the city's most prominent concert halls. Under the guidance of professional instructors, choir members study advanced music theory and vocal technique. They write original compositions and regularly collaborate with the world-class musicians of the LA Philharmonic and LA Master Chorale, whose performance halls are within walking distance of Skid Row. The story of this unexpected choir offers a nuanced glimpse into homelessness in Los Angeles and the therapeutic power of music. Los Angeles has one of the highest concentrations of homeless people in the country – roughly 55,000 people are homeless on any given night. Here is a group of people who have cultivated refuge in singing.
This is an ongoing project.
Note: Individual choir members' names have been purposefully left out.