Bellingham's Mitzi Moore performs in the grand opening day celebration of Lynden's Jansen Art Center, Saturday, Aug. 4. The art center is at 321 Front St., in Lynden's old city hall. She's one of the vocalists in the newly formed Backseat 'n Boogie Band, which is onstage at the center at 6 p.m.
Question: When did you first become enamored with music?
Answer: I was born in Thousand Oaks, Calif., but most of my first decade of life was spent living in Arkansas. I loved church music and begged my parents to take me to church, which they often did. When they couldn't take me, a little white bus would pick me up and deliver me to the Baptist church, where I felt passion and spirit in the music.
When my family moved back to Southern California I was about to start middle school; it was there that I joined my first school choir and had my first musical theater experiences. I was hooked! A graduate of Newbury Park High School, 1981, with honors in writing and physics, it was my choir friends and musical theater experiences that stuck with me. We traveled California singing and dancing in musical competitions (as in the show "Glee.")
Performing lead roles in plays like "Brigadoon," "West Side Story" and "Pippin" required discipline and taught me how to balance my love of the arts with my studies. Arts and music education are extremely important; we need to fight for continued funding of these programs for our kids. They are what keep many students engaged in school.
Q: What did you study in college?
A: At Cal State University, Chico, I majored in English literature and writing, speech and drama. After finishing college and moving to Washington, I was too busy enjoying raising my three daughters to make music outside of the family. Graduate school brought me to Bellingham in 1989.
I earned my MA in English at Western Washington University, along with secondary teaching endorsements in English and drama. Then, sometime in the middle of my 20-something years of teaching at Ferndale High School and raising my girls, I attended a Kulshan Chorus winter concert and the singing spark was rekindled in me. I called Roger Griffith, director of the Kulshan Chorus, the next day, auditioned, and joined the chorus the following season.
Roger, (his wife) Anne, and the Kulshan Chorus have been a huge gift to me, enriching this community with diverse music for more than 20 years. They have encouraged me both as a soloist and harmony singer.
Out of the Kulshan Chorus grew the vocal trio Petites Syrah, consisting of Anne Griffith, Diane Leigh and me. Creating three-part harmonies with the trio further developed my vocal skills. We were also joined by Mary Somerville singing background vocals for The Atlantics in their Christmas show at The Wild Buffalo. When I sing, I feel peace and joy, which makes me better at everything else I do.
Roger Griffith is leaving the Kulshan Chorus after the 2013 spring concert, so this will be a very special year for many of us who consider the Kulshan Chorus our musical home. Plans include winter and spring concerts as well as a tour of Spain, Morocco and Portugal in the summer of 2013.
Q: How did the Backseat 'n Boogie Band come to be, and what will you be playing at the grand opening at Jansen Art Center?
A: As some of my previous musical groups come to an end I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to sing with Marvin Johnson (and friends). Last fall, Marvin called me to do some backup singing with one of his ever-transforming and fabulous bands. We have performed a few times at the Blue Horse Gallery, Poppe's and McKay's Taproom/Pizza Pipeline.
I continue to be amazed with Marvin's ability to bring together so many talented local and regional musicians from such varied musical genres. I consider it an honor and a great learning experience to perform with professional musicians like Phil Sottile, Thomas Harris and many others. Although not formally trained in music theory or piano (I sing intuitively, mostly by ear), with a little help from my friends Marvin, Paul Klein and Roger Griffith I am learning the basics of reading sheet music and chord charts.
The Backseat 'n Boogie Band is the latest incarnation of Marvin's group Playin' with My Friends. We have put together a tremendous afternoon and evening of music with more than 16 musicians assembled for the grand opening celebration of the beautiful Jansen Art Center.
We will be joined by Nicki Scianna from Falcon Scream on guitar; Lynn Sorensen of Bad Company and Magic Bus on bass, lead vocals and electric violin; and Geoffrey Castle, virtouso violinist, of Twisted Fiddle Music, on six-string electric violin.
Also joining in the fun: Phil Sottile, Joe Young, Lonnie Knechtel, Thomas Harris, Grant Wilson, Philip Nakano and Scott Watts, with Mark Ashworth, and James Tuttle on sound.
Corrine Roos, founder of The Chryslers, will be singing lead and harmony vocals with me (yeah!) Check out Backseat 'n Boogie Band on Facebook. Many thanks to everyone who supports live music and the arts in Whatcom County!
Reach MARGARET BIKMAN at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-2273.