Coordinator finds community in LGBTQ+ chorus


Trisha Miller can’t remember a time her life wasn’t filled with music.

A student services coordinator at the Marsal Family School of Education, Miller first started singing in choruses as a child. Growing up in a musical family, she loved performing in choirs and theatre productions.

Her passion for music inspired her to pursue a music education degree at Central Michigan University. She eventually switched to elementary education and worked as a teacher for almost two decades, all while singing in choruses outside of the classroom.

Miller moved to Ypsilanti with her two young children in 2003. She had decided to come out and wanted to live in a more accepting, inclusive community. She found information online about the Out Loud Chorus, an LGBTQ+ chorus based in Ann Arbor, and knew she needed to join.

A photo of members of the Out Loud Chorus
The Out Loud Chorus is one of the largest LGBTQ+ choruses in the nation with more than 100 members. (Photo by Sun Chao)

After almost 20 years singing in the chorus, Miller said, joining was one of the best decisions she has ever made.

The Out Loud Chorus is a member of GALA Choruses, an organization that supports nearly 200 LGBTQ+ choruses across North America. The group, which now has more than 100 members, performs every genre of music from classical and Broadway to jazz and pop.

The non-auditioned community chorus — the only requirement is the ability to match pitch — is a mixed chorus with soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices. Most of the members identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I feel like the power of singing together and music is really great, and it really brings people together,” Miller said.

A photo of two women
Trisha Miller (right) met her partner, Sandy Lambert (left), while singing with the Out Loud Chorus at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. (Photo courtesy of Trisha Miller)

“And it’s a part of our mission as a chorus to educate the public not only about choral music, but also to reduce bigotry against queer people. And so, I feel like there’s the power of music to bring people together as a community, but also to change minds and hearts.”

Throughout her first year in the chorus, Miller developed strong friendships with fellow group members, including Sandy Lambert, a staff member at Michigan Medicine. The group traveled to Montreal in 2004 to participate in the international GALA Choruses Festival, what Miller described as “the Olympics of queer singing.” While at the festival, Miller and Lambert became a couple, and they married two years later.

Now celebrating 20 years together, Miller and Lambert are excited to travel to the GALA Choruses Festival once again this July. This year’s festival will take place in Minneapolis, and more than 75 Out Loud Chorus members will attend.

The chorus can be seen locally at its two annual showcases, with a January show at Washtenaw Community College and a May concert at U-M. The Out Loud Chorus also performs throughout the year at events including Pride and the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

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The Out Loud Chorus’ spring show, “Queers! Queers! Queers!” will take place May 17 and 18 at the Arthur Miller Theatre on North Campus. The show will feature the work of queer composers and lyricists.

This year’s January showcase featured Miller’s favorite theme to date: the 1980s. The group sang several hit songs from the decade and dressed up in classic ’80s garb. Miller loved dancing and singing to the music of her teenage years and expressing herself through song. She often finds herself emotional while singing, with songs that touch upon her experiences as a mother and her love for nature striking a chord.

“I’m a highly sensitive person, and I’m very emotional depending on what we’re singing. … It’s really a wide range of feelings when we’re performing music, and I love sharing it with people,” Miller said.

Trisha Miller sings a solo during the Out Loud Chorus’ performance at the memorial for Jim Toy at the Michigan Theater in 2022. Toy was a founding member of the Out Loud Chorus in 1995 and helped establish U-M’s Spectrum Center. (Photo courtesy of Trisha Miller)

Miller, who is a member of the Out Loud Chorus’ board, production committee and music selection committee, said the chorus is her community. As the LGBTQ+ community continues to face social and political challenges, she said, being surrounded by a group of compassionate, like-minded individuals is a great source of support.

“I’m really proud of our chorus for making it through hard times. Despite politics and social climate being against us often, we persevere and get our love of music out there to everyone that wants to attend our shows,” Miller said.

A particularly memorable event for Miller occurred when the Out Loud Chorus was invited to sing at the memorial for Jim Toy at the Michigan Theater in 2022. Toy was a founding member of the Out Loud Chorus in 1995 and helped establish U-M’s Spectrum Center. Miller sang a solo at the beginning of the chorus’ memorial performance.

“I feel really hopeful that I’ve inspired others, but also, I feel good about myself. I feel great to be a part of such a wonderful community and also to be able to practice an art form that I love so much, that takes me through my days,” Miller said. “Music is very, very important to me. It’s a big part of my life. So, I feel really fortunate that I get to be involved in this.”


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