CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Two Charleston chorales - one new and one veteran - will join forces for two concerts in the next two weeks.
First up is Saturday's spring concert by the Charleston Gay Men's Chorale in celebration of the group's first year. Guest artists are members of the WomanSong Chorale.
Next weekend, the Gay Men's Chorale returns the favor, performing with WomanSong during its spring concert April 27 at Christ Church United Methodist.
"This is our very first time collaborating with anyone," said Billy Burdette, founder and director of the Gay Men's Chorale.
"It started because some of the WomanSong singers came to our fall concert and really liked what they saw and told Emily Capece (WomanSong's director) about us."
"They thought, wouldn't it be cool to have some guys to sing with for a change?" Burdette added.
Performing with the well-known WomanSong may bring a boost to the Gay Men's Chorale, which is still making its way in the Charleston music scene.
Burdette, a longtime music educator, is a native of West Virginia who spent many years teaching in Virginia.
When he returned to Charleston, it was to work outside the education field, and Burdette found something missing in his life.
"I was really missing the music side," he said, "and I started thinking, what can I do in the community as a whole with music? Where would there be a need for a group?"
Burdette said many larger cities have gay choruses, and he figured the timing was right for Charleston to accept a similar group.
"The gay community in Charleston has been very vocal and visual for 10 years," he said. Last March, he decided to test the waters.
"All I did was talk to some folks I knew were singers; I did a Facebook invitation and found a rehearsal space (Bream Presbyterian Church on the West Side). At our first rehearsal, six guys showed up.
"I thought that was great, and over time we've grown at one point to 24 singers."
The chorale's first performance was during last June's Gay Pride Festival in Charleston, with concerts following in the fall and winter, along with functions by invitation. Its stated mission is to present quality entertainment while educating the community and showing a positive image to honor the gay community.
"The community has truly embraced us," Burdette said.