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Tacoma Refugee Choir

Fostering friendships across diverse communities through the power of song

Everyone has a song – welcoming refugees through music

Choir Founder and conductor Erin Guinup’s pursuit of creative, uplifting, and service-oriented work has been the driving force behind her varied musical vocation. She is a conductor, soprano, voice teacher, corporate voice specialist, author, and public speaker. Erin is the founding Executive and Artistic Director of the Tacoma Refugee Choir, a nonprofit dedicated to building a more welcoming community through song. The philosophies of this work are seen in her other projects, as Erin frequently leads workshops and speaks about how everyone can use their voice and talents to make a difference.

Erin is a classically-trained concert soloist, performing with ensembles such as Tacoma Concert Band and Northwest Repertory Singers, and her internationally performed one-woman show, The Ladies of Lyric and Song: Female Composers and Lyricists of the American Musical Theatre has been praised as “an amazing tour-de-force.” Other career highlights include conducting the world premiere of Orson Scott Card and Mark Mitchell’s He is There and annual performances of Rob Gardner’s Lamb of God and Handel’s Messiah; witnessing her students achieve success on Broadway, regional theatre and operatic stages, and television’s American Idol, The Voice, and America’s Got Talent; presenting at TEDxSeattle with the Tacoma Refugee Choir; and singing in Jerusalem and Europe with Common Ground Voices, an Israeli-Palestinian choir devoted to building understanding through music.

Erin is a contributing author for two books being released in 2019: So You Want to Sing Music by Women and My Body Was Left on the Street: Music Education and Displacement.  She is also the creator of Musically Spoken, a curriculum that uses principles of singing and compassion to improve communication in the workplace.  She works with companies including Amazon, Honeywell and CHI Franciscan, and is in demand with medical teams to improve verbal communication between healthcare providers and patients. Erin is passionate about inspiring people to be the best version of themselves and uses music to strengthen confidence, empower action, and reawaken latent gifts.

Tacoma Refugee Choir fosters friendships across diverse communities through the power of song

At a time when the US is divided along immigration policy lines, and people often respond from a place of fear, the Tacoma Refugee Choir strives to build bridges in the community by spreading a message of hope and empathy. TRC is a non-auditioned choir composed of both immigrants and US-born locals. Its mission is to unite, uplift, and inspire through the transformative power of music. The choir’s name comes from a desire to stand with political refugees in solidarity and support. Today, the choir stands for all who have suffered injustice.

Founded by Erin Guinup, just as the U.S. was closing its borders to citizens from select countries, the Tacoma Refugee Choir was determined to turn its musical practice into a celebration of human connection by welcoming voices from around the world. The Choir has created an original song to showcase the idea that it takes diversity to create true harmony.

The Tacoma Refugee Choir is a diverse, non-auditioned choral ensemble dedicated to using music’s exceptional power to build a more welcoming community, foster unity, and spark meaningful action and dialogue. We seek to support and befriend former refugees that now call our city home and to use our voice to advocate for greater compassion.  Further, we aim to empower choir members and others in our community to use their voice to make a difference.

Watch the choir in action, at TEDxSeattle