WATCH: Sam Smith parody ‘Please Go Home’

Please Go HomeSam Smith, the amazingly talented gay British pop star, will be performing tonight in Dallas, the final leg of his limited North American tour. To help get you ready for the concert, we share this video … not of an actual Sam Smith song, but of its parody, “Please Go Home,” which turns the needy-trick meme on its head from the perspective of the guy who made the mistake of hooking up with him. And it comes courtesy of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, led by our own Tim Seelig! It’s especially good for bear lovers! Enjoy!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Former TCC director Tim Seelig discriminated against by vacation company

SeeligDr. Timothy Seelig, who for 20 years was the charismatic artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale,  and who for the last three has been in San Francisco (where he’s led that city’s gay men’s chorus), is used to being out and proud. And loud. Which is why a company called Best Vacations Ever is probably kicking itself for pissing him off.

As the Huffington Post reports, Seelig and his partner Dan England were booking a trip together to enjoy the offer of a time share, extended to them by the company. They had planned a trip to Las Vegas but were told same-sex couples were not allowed to book in the town known as Sin City. (They did offer Orlando and NOLA as alternative destinations.)

But what doesn’t happen in Vegas doesn’t stay there. Seelig called media, and BVE reneged on the denial, claiming it was not company policy, and offering to book them to Las Vegas, gratis. They declined.

BVE has since explained the policy and what they called a mistake, but Seelig wouldn’t have any of it. We mean it when we say don’t mess with Texas. That also goes for Texans — even former residents.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Resounding Harmony begins Chapter Two

Russ Rieger

Russ Rieger conducts the mixed-voice chorus for the first time as the new artistic director with June 8 concert

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Resounding Harmony begins a new chapter in its life when the chorus performs at the Meyerson Symphony Center on June 8 with new artistic director Russ Rieger conducting for the first time.

The mixed-voice group last performed in the fall before founder and original artistic director Tim Seelig left Dallas to conduct the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

Rieger was hired Jan. 1 to replace Seelig. Before his first rehearsal as director, he worried about how he would fill Seelig’s shoes.

“There’s no way anyone could fill those shoes,” he said. “The chorus presented me with a pair of new shoes so I didn’t have to fill Tim’s.”

Board Chair Mark Knight said they’re calling this Chapter Two for Resounding Harmony, but the transition has been an easy one.

Rieger, who has been the music minister of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church for 21 years, served as the principal accompanist for the Turtle Creek Chorale and Women’s Chorus of Dallas. He accompanied Resounding Harmony when they performed Sing for the Cure at Carnegie Hall last year.

“He’s played the organ for all of our concerts at the Meyerson,” Knight said.

Each of Resounding Harmony’s concerts is a benefit performance, which Knight calls musical philanthropy. This concert will support the Palliative Care program at Children’s Medical Center.

The concert is titled Born for Greatness, in honor of the children in the palliative care program, Rieger said.

“Greatness isn’t measured by the length of a child’s life, but by the impact the child makes on others,” Rieger said doctors who work in Children’s Hospital’s palliative care unit told him.

Performing with Resounding Harmony at the June 8 concert is Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Jana Stanfield. She has done programs for palliative care programs elsewhere and will perform her song, “Born for Greatness.”

Also appearing are dancers from the Academy of Dance from Allen who will accompany two of the songs.

Rieger said most of the music in the show will be inspirational. The first half closes with “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel. Another piece they’ll do is “He Ain’t Heavy … He’s My Brother.”

He said plans already are forming for the next two seasons. Next year, Seelig will be conducting Sing for the Cure in Atlanta and he has invited Resounding Harmony to join them.

Beneficiaries for next season’s concerts have been set. The November performance is for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the spring concert will benefit the American Heart Association.

Knight said they are working on a tour for the 2012-13 season.

Resounding Harmony performs at the Meyerson Symphony Center, June 8 at 8 p.m. $30-50. Tickets available on line at ResoundingHarmony.org.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Tim Seelig goes from Texan to San Franciscan in 4 months flat

It was just December when Tim Seelig left Dallas for the City by the Bay, living outside the Lone Star State for only the third time after two brief stints elsewhere. But he seems comfortable with his newfound status as a San Franciscan. He’s a cheerleader for his adoptive city with a good dose of humor in this segment that aired last night on The Daily Show (you can see a repeat tonight at 6 p.m. on Comedy Central). In addition to Seelig, there’s good reason to watch the segment — it’s funny.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Seelig to appear on ‘The Daily Show’ tonight

Tim Seelig

Tim Seelig, former director of the Turtle Creek Chorale, said that an interview he did with The Daily Show will air tonight. Seelig is now director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and the segment includes a performance by the group.

“It’s tonight! We just got word that the segment was filmed some weeks ago for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart will air tonight! Heaven only knows what they did with my interview and the SFGMC performance! It’s too late for good thoughts, so just enjoy!” Seelig wrote on Facebook earlier today,” Seelig wrote.

Seelig was artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale for 20 years and founded the group Resounding Harmony. He moved to San Francisco in December 2010.

—  David Taffet

Chorale seeks new executive director

Stephen Tosha

The Turtle Creek Chorale has begun a search for a new executive director, who manages the business side of the nonprofit gay men’s chorus. The current ED, Stephen Tosha, is departing to take a position with Morgan Stanley. Tosha will continue in the position until July 30. The chorale hopes to have a new ED in place by Aug. 1, when it begins its 32nd season.

Tosha, pictured, began as executive director in 2009, and according to Jonathan Palant, the chorale’s artistic director,  he “helped the chorale to grow fiscally and administratively in a time when arts organizations across the country were facing cutbacks.” Palant became artistic director in 2007, replacing long-serving AD Tim Seelig.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Is Garland-raised country star LeAnn Rimes an LGBT ally or a phony hypocritical sellout whore?

From the ones we missed file, above is touching video footage of North Texas’ own LeAnn Rimes performing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles — led by guest conductor Tim Seelig — at a holiday concert last month. Rimes, who grew up in Garland, is overcome with tears as she talks about the gay youth suicide crisis before teaming with the chorus for a beautiful performance of “The Rose.”

Fast forward to tonight, when Rimes is performing again – this time at a fundraiser for (gasp!) House GOP freshmen. As Queerty notes, the fundraiser is being hosted by California Rep. Jeff Denham, who, while a state senator, repeatedly voted against recognition of marriages from other states. And the $2,500-a-plate fundraiser is designed to re-elect lawmakers who undoubtedly will help block consideration of any pro-LGBT legislation — including a federal law to protect gay kids from bullying in public schools — for the next two years.

So, to rephrase the question from the headline, should the LGBT community have learned something about Rimes from her extramarital affair with Eddie Cibrian?

—  John Wright

Lightning strikes again

Tim Seelig felt blessed to lead the chorale for 20 years. But he begins a new stage of his life and career outside Texas with his post at the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | jones@dallasvoice.com

Seelig-HS_WhiteTie_Vert
PICKING UP THE BATON  | After 24 years in Dallas, Tim Seelig leaves his Texas home to take over as artistic director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. But as excited as he is about the move, he’ll really miss eating good Tex-Mex. (Photo courtesy Shawn Northcutt)

Timothy Seelig is all about reinvention.

He’s done it almost too many times to count. The first, of course, was when, as a married adult with children active in the church, he came out of the closet and moved to Dallas to lead the Turtle Creek Chorale. For 20 years, he helped build it into one of the preeminent men’s choruses in the world. While there he became something of a musical entrepreneur, releasing albums, commissioning new works and teaching voice at SMU.

After he stepped down from the TCC four years ago, he continued to be active in Dallas life, as director of Art for Peace & Justice at the Cathedral of Hope and serving as the founding artistic director for a new mixed vocal ensemble, Resounding Harmony.

But the change this month is big even for him. He’s moving to California to assume the baton as artistic director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

“Wow,” he said just hours after inking the agreement. “I mean, the history of that chorus! Gosh.”

A month later, he’s fully packed and sharing a much smaller space in Dubose Triangle near the Castro District where his partner, Shawn Northcutt, has lived for 18 months while working a long-term contract with Apple. On Jan. 10 — his 60th birthday — he’ll lead his first rehearsal.

“It hasn’t soaked in at all,” he says. “We did not sell our loft [in Dallas] so I’ll come back a lot.”

It’s a major feather in a cap already plumed more than a peacock.

“I loved, loved my time in Dallas,” Seelig gushes. “At the end of my 20 years at the chorale, I felt if I never did anything more significant, I would have lived a life more gratifying that most. It was a life that was full. If I’d had the money, I could have rocked on a rocking chair. But to start back over is icing on the cake and an opportunity not many people get.”

“I could speak about Tim’s legacy, his accomplishments, his infectious personality or his energy,” says Jonathan Palant, who took over from Seelig as artistic director of the chorale.  “It was under Tim’s baton that our mission changed to include the four pillars against which the Turtle Creek Chorale measures everything today: to entertain, educate, unite and uplift. We wish him all the best!”
Seelig steps into a chorus with a storied history.

“In the GALA Choruses network, they are the grandfather,” he says. “In June of 1981, they were two years old and decided to take a national tour to spread the gospel of gays singing. It was a legendary tour — they went to Dallas, Minneapolis, Bismarck and planted the seeds of all these choruses. Many looked to SFGMC for their motivation 30 years ago.” The tour was even detailed in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.

With such a legacy, “anytime [the artistic director position] has come open, everybody considers it,” Seelig says. So last August, when the SFGMC announced that Kathleen McGuire (who led the group for 10 years) would be stepping down, Seelig jumped.

It was a bit of déjà vu for Seelig, who had considered the post a decade earlier, “but it was the year we were commissioning Sing for the Cure, and I couldn’t step away. But this time was different. I had to think long and hard, but it was a door I could not not walk through.” He was selected as one of the three finalists and got the job last month, just days before Resounding Harmony’s final concert of the season.

Still, leaving Dallas —  Seelig has lived only in Texas and comparatively brief stints in Europe and Oklahoma — was not an easy decision for him.

“I love my life in Dallas and Shawn has had a fabulous career. Life is happy and Resounding Harmony is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life.” His son and parents, who are elderly, are also local. But he knew it was the right move. His daughter lives in San Francisco; she had Seelig’s first grandchild prematurely, just days after Thanksgiving.

“The biggest factor of all was the birth of my granddaughter, Clara,” he says. “They’ve already picked out names for me and Shawn: Honey and Bubbles. I’m Bubbles. The fact I had conducted that chorus for four months a year-and-a-half ago gave me a real taste for the city, too, though living there will be different.

But I could see myself there.”

Still, there’s a lot he will miss.

“Leaving Resounding Harmony is really, really hard — they are doing just wonderfully. The board members are staying, I think they’ll do a wonderful job,” he says. “It was hard to leave SMU and my students and leave the cathedral as well. I was really enjoying working with Jo — I am a big Jo Hudson fan. But I’m not the kind who looks back. There’s no time for that. SFGMC is like jumping on a moving bullet train. Getting up to speed is incredible.

“And I can tell that fairly first hand, I will miss chicken fried steak and good Tex-Mex. And I’m gonna miss a lot of the musicmaking from the wonderful music community that Dallas has provided. It ‘s wonderful place to be gay and be a musician. Also, Dallas is wide open — if you can dream it up and raise the money, you can do it. I’m gonna miss that.”

There are also things that make him apprehensive about going to a new city — like, his bigger-than-life personality and cheeky turn-of-phrase.

“So far, they find my Texana adorable — they think it’s real cute, like saying y’all. I just hope that’s not gonna wear off,” he says.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Resounding success

For the third year, Tim Seelig’s choral group sings to feed a real need

Resounding Harmony
SUPPER CLUB | Tim Seelig, center, with members of Resounding Harmony, wants his concert to feed North Texans.

RESOUNDING HARMONY
Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St.
Nov. 10. 8 p.m. $30–$50.
ResoundingHarmony.org.

…………………………………..

Timothy Seelig gets angry when he considers that during the season of Thanksgiving, there are still thousands of North Texans who go hungry. Which is why, for the third year in a row, the new season of his Resounding Harmony choral group begins with a fundraiser for the North Texas Food Bank.

“Resounding Harmony is an amazing blend of men [and] women, ages 13 to 77, from absolutely every walk of life, brought together by the music and the larger mission of making a difference in our community,” explains Seelig, the founding artistic director for the chorus.

Now more than 200 voices strong, Resounding Harmony had its genesis in a smaller mixed choral group Seelig helped put together for the March 2008 Voices of Peace celebration to honor Maya Angelou. That group caught the eye of Gregg Smith, a pastor at the Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, who approached Seelig and Hope for Peace & Justice about creating another chorus to help raise money and collect food for the needy. Not long afterwards, Resounding Harmony and its “musical philanthropic mission” were born.

“The North Texas Food Bank shared with us that they had just launched a three-year initiative and we immediately signed on to partner with them,” Seelig says.

The first year, Resounding Harmony raised enough to provide the NTFB with the means to offer 65,000 meals to North Texans unable to feed themselves. Last year, the chorus took an even more ambitious aim: to help provide 100,000 meals — a goal it surpassed by 10,000 meals. This year, Seelig once again wants to exceed the 100,000 mark. The concert takes place Nov. 10 at the Meyerson Symphony Center

“We are working very hard to add to the concert proceeds, income from the virtual food drive, actual food drives, Dinner in Destin Raffle, the Recyclable Grocery Bags and the Fabulous Table Auction,” Seelig says.

While the concert is intended to call attention to the reality of hunger in North Texas, Seelig promises that the show itself will be “[a] perfect balance of humor and seriousness.”

Some songs on the program, like “Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise” and “Jalapeno Chorus”(a distinctly Southwestern play on Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”) are laugh-out-loud funny. Others, like the poignant “Famine Song” and the rousing “Love Can Build a Bridge,” are intended to stir emotions.

Additional concert highlights include Russ Rieger playing the Lay Family Concert Organ and pianist Antoine Spencer performing a medley of Leonard Bernstein pieces.

“Every person attending will enter these holidays with beautiful music in their ears and in their hearts,” Seelig says.

In the three years of its existence, Resounding Harmony has also sung on behalf of other organizations, such as the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts, Lowe Elementary and The Samaritan Inn. With its June 2010 Carnegie Hall “Sing for Cure” performance for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, it has also quickly established itself as a distinguished member of the Dallas arts community

“The philosophy is to use our music as a philanthropic vehicle to raise money and awareness,” explains Seelig. “It is truly an effort to use music as a means to a greater end, rather than an end in and of itself.”

— M.M. Adjarian

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Gospel according to gays

Tim Seelig and Cathedral of Hope put a queer twist on that old-time religion with the ‘Gay’ther Homecoming, a celebration of hymns and homos

M.M. ADJARIAN  | Contributing Writer mmadjarian@gmail.com

SAY  AMEN | Seelig, above, tapped dozens of gospel artists for his inaugural concert, including out singers Ray Boltz, below left, and Marsha Stevens, below right.

‘GAY’THER HOMECOMING
Cathedral of Hope,
5910 Cedar Springs Road.
Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. $15.
CathedralofHope.com.

………………………………….

Leave it to Tim Seelig to find a way to queer-up the straightest event.

The original Gaither Homecoming was started in 1991 in Nashville by gospel singer and impresario Bill Gaither.

“It’s a huge industry of straight gospel singers — I mean hundreds of millions of dollars,” says Seelig.

And that industry has not been gay-friendly. According to Seelig, too many talented LGBT gospel singers have been excluded from performing at events like the Gaither Homecoming. Many are not even allowed to sing in their own churches.

But there is no want of LGBT gospel music fans out there. So on Saturday, Art for Peace & Justice (which Seelig directs) and the Cathedral of Hope will present the first annual “Gay”ther Homecoming, a gala evening of Christian music and song. Proceeds will benefit the Interfaith Peace Chapel at the COH.

The show, the first of its kind in the nation, will feature 49 singers and six instrumentalists from across the country, singing solos and then joining each other — and the audience — to  sing hymns and gospel songs.

“The audience will know every single song performed,” says Seelig. “They will sing along, tap their feet, clap, and utter many ‘amens.’ I have no doubt there will be tears.”

“The initial idea [for the event] came from a staff member at the cathedral and was simply [intended] to host a celebration of LGBT musicians and their friends during gay Pride,” says Seelig. “It is not meant as a spoof or parody of the Gaither Homecoming industry; we just felt that by giving it that name, people would immediately know what to expect with very little explanation.”

It is, though, meant to be empowering for gay people of faith.

“Over the years, I have come in contact with literally hundreds of musicians who cut their teeth in the church but were completely cast aside once they came out,” he observes. “There is no room for them at the table of main-line religion. Period.”

Seelig faced similar discrimination when he came out in the 1980s, but has since achieved international acclaim as a singer, educator and chorale conductor. He’s also brought to Dallas, through A4P&J, speakers such as Maya Angelou and recently a performance of Terence McNally’s Corpus Christi.

His latest project has two aims. The first is to offer LGBT gospel musicians a welcoming space where they can let their talents shine. And the second is “to bring the audience to a place full of wonderful memories of their own journey with religion and, more specifically, the music of their youth.”

Among those slated to perform at the “Gay”ther Homecoming are LGBT gospel luminaries as Ray Boltz, Marsha Stevens, Mark Hayes, Susie Brenner and Pattie Clawson Berry. Local artists joining the line-up include Gary Floyd, Amy Stevenson, Danny Ray, Lonnie Parks and Shelly-Torres West, along with three LGBT gospel groups: Redeemed, Out 4 Joy and Voices of Hope. The show will be filmed for future DVD release.

“Our hope is that this will be something that LGBT people all over will purchase and enjoy,” says Seelig. “There are so many people all over the world who feel disenfranchised. This is just one way that the Cathedral of Hope and Art for Peace & Justice can help them know they are not forgotten.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens