History

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Sing Out Loud’s Founding 

One spring afternoon after leaving a choral gig, founder Shelly Winemiller did not think all singers were being valued for their unique voice and beauty, she sat quietly in St. Mary’s Chapel in Rochester, MN. As she sat there, she was deciding which direction she should follow in her own life. It was there, in this quiet space she could hear and see, young girls singing. She saw each young woman finding her worth, her value and knowing she was beyond special through the power of her voice. So she rose up, went downstairs and booked a Christmas concert for the very same year.  The woman in charge asked what the name of the group was, and Shelly replied a resounding "I don't know." The employee then asked “how many in the group?,” and again she had to reply, "I have no idea." All Shelly knew for sure was that she had to create an organization that went beyond just singing and learning music. Shelly wanted to build up girls to become strong young women, through the power of their voice, in a safe community. This became the vision of Sing Out Loud: to provide safety and unconditional love for every capable young singer who walks through the door and to foster the collective power of each individual voice coming together to create new, magnificent, and a uniquely beautiful voice. A "Bella Voce." 

“When we know at our core we are worthy and valuable, we can change the world. For me, there was no better way to do that then through the power of song!  This is why Bella focuses first on the singer, which then leads to using her powerful voice to help others. Bella's true heart is also about outreach -- carrying this message of cherishing one another -- and we have been blessed to travel the region and world do just that.” - Founding Artistic Director, Shelly Winemiller

The “Bella” Choir’s Present 

Bella Voce (beautiful voice) Bella Voce is the original choir that gives young women in 9th - 12th grades the opportunity to make music at the highest level, while focusing on outreach, women’s empowerment and their core values.  Bella Voce has traveled regionally all over the Midwest and has made international appearances in Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia (2009), Italy (2012), and toured all over Europe in 2015. This 2015 tour included a performance at the Melk Abbey and a collaboration at the Kodály Institute. In 2012 and again in 2017 Bella Voce was invited to sing for The National American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) at their national conference. Bella Voce was also featured on Minnesota Public Radio’s  (MPR's) “Taste of the Holidays” broadcast and compilation CD three years in a row, an honor usually offered only to professional groups and adult ensembles. Bella Voce continues to raise the standard for high school women’s choirs musically and beyond. The Bella Voce girls love singing with and get to know both alumni and their younger Bella sisters. They cherish outreach, community and of course, singing for all audiences. 

Bella Fiore (beautiful flower) Like the blooming of flowers in spring, the Bella Fiore choir offers up the opportunity of beautiful artistry and singing to young girls from 6th – 8th grade. Fiore was created with the same passion as Bella Voce. When originated, it was especially important to start to establish confidence and instill these girls with their special place in the world using their young voice.  We all know the challenging middle school years. For our organization, it was absolutely necessary to provide a safe place for these young women to sing and rejoice with their new Bella sisters. In their first years of being a teenager these young girls will grow up in a supportive, caring, nurturing choir that gets to share their music with thousands. Bella Fiore has seen some major successes in its life as an ensemble. Having performed on every Bella Voce show since its creation, the group has had its fair share of sold out shows. In 2019 Bella Fiore was selected to present at ACDA – MN state conference.

The Bellettes! We at Sing Out Loud have a special place in our hearts for these very young (1-5th grade) singers. The Bellettes rehearse only 8 weeks, as we believe children in today's world are overbooked and over-scheduled already.  We did not want Sing Out Loud to add to that intensity for parents, but we do want to have the singers look forward to spring singing with the other Bellette singers. We do believe it is a highlight for many of them as they look forward to it every spring. These young girls are the hope and a bright light for what the future has to offer. 

“As a little girl, I sang all the time, and it became a lifeline for dealing with challenges in my world. How I wished I had some guidance to start creating music in a group at that age!” - Shelly Winemiller, Founding Director.

Sing Out Loud’s Future 

Our future at Bella looks brighter than ever. The music will go on as the organization prepares to transition and find their next permanent Artistic and Musical Director. The 2019-20 season will be lead by Interim director Douglas Carnes and he and his wife Taryn will team up to head the nation wide directors search. As for the girls, their numbers keep growing, their singing keeps inspiring audiences, and their outreach will continue to positively affect hundreds of individuals.

If you or someone you know is qualified and interested in being a part of Sing Out Loud’s future, please send your information to directorsearch@singoutloud.org. We would love to have you be a part of this Beautiful Journey.