In the early 1990s, a small group of local singers gathered once a year to practice daily for a week and sing Christmas songs at the Greater Leeds Area Chamber of Commerce December meeting.
After this group – known as The Chamber Singers – disbanded, several members mentioned how much they missed getting together to sing. Among those were Doris Jarvis, Sandra McGuire, and Grady Sue Saxon, all members of the Leeds Arts Council. Encouraged by those who wanted to continue singing, Grady Sue Saxon, as the 1994 president of LAC, contacted local singers to determine if there was an interest in forming a community chorus.
The Leeds Arts Council agreed to co-sponsor the group if a matching grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts was awarded. Using music borrowed from local churches and the Pell City community chorus, the Leeds Community Chorus began practicing with Sandra McGuire as director and Dell Smith as accompanist.
Officially, The Leeds Community Chorus was established on February 17, 1994. The matching grant was awarded, which allowed the purchase of music and a small stipend for the director and accompanist.
The first concert was held in September 1995 with Ellen Denton directing and Janet Spears accompanying. The theme of this first concert was “Patriot Songs.” The chorus also performed a Christmas concert in November of 1994. The Alabama State Council on the Arts partnered with the LAC to produce the chorus through 2002. At that time, it was determined that the LAC and chorus had reached a level where they could charge an admission fee and become self-sufficient. While the chorus started out singing for fun, it has grown as a group of choral singers who want to do their best and make the community proud over the years.
The chorus has had several directors over the years. While Sue Jones was director, a barbershop quartet and a ladies’ ensemble were organized within the chorus. Ron Hunsinger led the chorus for many years. Chip Wise is the current director, with Dell Smith accompanying.
The chorus gathers twice yearly to prepare for two concerts, typically in spring and fall. Participation is open to all who can sing and will commit themselves to the rehearsal time necessary to prepare for the concerts.