“One Voice” was created in 1997 and is comprised of youth from five different high schools in and around Richfield, Utah. Students with an interest in singing and performing try out and, once selected, sign a “code of ethics” they must follow to be members of the choir. Each year, the number of those auditioning has increased dramatically – from 19 in 1997 to more than 100 in 2003.
Janet Kimball Bird founded the choir in August of 1997 and she, along with Richard Barnett, direct the choir. Deanna Cowley was invited to join the staff one year later. Each of them has been volunteering their time and talents for the past seven years. The directors of “One Voice” are each accomplished musicians and vocal soloists. Janet Bird is an accomplished vocalist and vocal coach, Richard Barnett is a seasoned instrumentalist, and Deanna is an outstanding pianist. Each of them spend countless hours working with the youth, finding music, learning songs, developing choreography, practicing music, rehearsing for performances – and the list goes on. Approximately 500 hours per year go into making this group a polished choir.
Janet, Richard and Deanna possess many qualities needed to make this group successful. They have inexhaustible patience with the youth. They are consummate professionals, and demand the same from the group, teaching the youth that only their best is enough, and showing them that they can achieve their goals through hard work. They are organized; each practice is well planned and purposeful.
“One Voice” has built connections in the community by presenting annual Christmas and Mother’s Day concerts. They were requested to sing when the community united in a show of support for Richfield’s National Guard Troop that was activated, and also for the 2002 Winter Olympics. They have been requested to sing at the services of numerous religious denominations in Sevier County as well as in Nevada, California and at Disneyland. They also present an annual concert tour and this year will be in Washington D.C., April 2nd – 9th.
While performance is a key element of “One Voice,” the most important is that of unity within the choir. Since the choir consists of students from five different high schools, it has been an emphasis from the beginning to instill within the choir a sense of support, trust, and acceptance for each other. This sense of support has been felt by the community as students from each of the high schools have united to attend each others’ athletic events and dramatic performances throughout the years.
“One Voice” gets its name from a song of the same title by Barry Manilow. This song talks about the importance of and power of one voice, and what a difference one voice can make speaking out for positive things. This theme is incorporated into the very structure of the group. In addition to improving their vocal skills, the young performers learn self-esteem and self-confidence through “One Voice.”
Janet, Richard and Deanna spend countless hours improving the talents and abilities of the young people in “One Voice.” They freely give their time to help the youth develop their own talents, and learn new ones in an environment of trust, caring and fun. The contributions they make to the lives of youth are immeasurable. They provide an experience that would not otherwise be available to youth in this rural area. Their presence in the community is electric and adds a special touch to any performance in which they are involved. Janet, Richard and Deanne are investing their time and talents to unite the youth of Sevier County and the community they in which they live one song at a time.