In the quiet sanctuary at Second Presbyterian Church in downtown Richmond earlier this week, Robin Rio wrapped the guitar strap around her, looked around the room and took a breath. She smiled, and began to strum softly as the group before her hummed in unison, the prelude to the song they were about to sing. Moments later their voices filled the vast space with a warmth that had nothing to do with the sunlight streaming through the stained glass window at the front of the room.
These are the RVA Street Singers, a choral group created in 2018 and made up of those working through homelessness and addiction recovery, but also church members and students and faculty from Virginia Commonwealth University. It’s an inclusive group that meets on Monday afternoons, where connections and relationships span social and economic conditions and where everyone has a voice — for singing and otherwise.
The singers have performed at Second Presbyterian, as well as for events at VCU and elsewhere around the community. But they’re about to embark on their biggest performance yet. The group is heading to the Kennedy Center in Washington on Thursday to perform during the center’s REACH Opening, a 16-day arts and music festival that celebrates the center’s new indoor and outdoor performance areas, called REACH.
Photo by Steven Casanova