While most kids were running around the soccer field trying to score tricky goals, my friends and I were standing entirely still on risers, trying to master tricky notes in musical scores. I was a choir kid through and through, over a decade before Glee made it cool. These days I don’t sing as often as I’d like. Which is why I look forward to my favorite Christmas tradition with the same anticipation as little tots on Christmas Eve. Christmas caroling!
Since our teenage years, the group of gals I grew up singing with gets together to sing Christmas carols. In high school we went door to door singing in the most wealthy neighborhoods in San Francisco. When on winter break from college, we’d meet on Bay Area streets known for boutique shopping and serenade the customers. Post college a bunch of us found ourselves in NYC or near enough to make a holiday trip. Almost every year I’ve lived in this city I’ve caroled on the streets of New York. One time we put a hat out and made enough money to buy tickets for In the Heights on Broadway.
So I can say I’ve been a street musician. For ya know, one or maybe 2 days every year in December. Never had any trouble with the cops- one time we tried to carol for the people sitting on the stairs of the Met Museum. It took about 30 minutes before two apologetic security guards came down and said we couldn’t sing with out a permit, “If it was our choice, you could be here all day, ladies!”
Reception from passers by is always nice. Always. No one has ever said, “Fuck off, carolers!” Some stop and listen for several songs. Some ask us questions- they usually think we have a religious agenda. The majority of the songs we sing are crazy religious, for example the 2nd verse of “Hark the Harold Angels Sing” starts off with Christ by highest heaven adored, Christ the ever lasting lord. The funny thing is none of us are particularly religious and the chorus we grew up singing in (in super liberal San Francisco!) wasn’t religious at all.
We grew up with these traditional carols from the Christian choral tradition. We love them and will keep singing them, despite their un-PC messages. Honestly, they’re so much prettier to hear and more fun to sing than “Frosty the Snowman”! We do have a great four part harmony for “Deck the Hall”- every ones favorite especially because it’s about festive drinking rather than Jesus.
As I finish up this post, I’m running out the door for- you guessed it- NYC Caroling 2014! If you’re in Bryant Park tonight and hear stains of choral singing, that’s us! Say hi and request a song! Or follow from anywhere with the hashtag #NYCarolers- hoping to get Twitter/Instagram/Facebook tuned in to our tunes!