By Naomi Klouda
Along with returning snow geese, dunlins and sandhill cranes comes an evening of poetry and song as part of Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival’s 10th-anniversary celebration.
The production by singer/songwriter Sunrise Kilcher reaches out to poets and musicians each year. This year, she’s putting the spotlight on the Seaside Singers, a collection of women who have kept right on singing since 1975. Alathea Clymer, one of the original members, recalled the first time Joan Evans decided to form the group.
“She looked at me and said, ‘you’re going to be in it,’ and I was. I can’t read sheet music, but I’ve been singing my whole life,” Clymer said.
The group comprises a dozen members who perform at the Elks Lodge, Fourth of July events, Homer Council on the Arts, the Friendship Center and for Longterm Care at the hospital. This year, they will perform at the 7 p.m. Birds on a Wing fundraiser at the Homer Theatre on May 9.
Gayle Claus, a member of the group for the past 18 years, said many of the members have stayed with the group through the decades. It started out as a barbershop harmony that included men.
“It ended up being a support group with a singing problem,” Claus said, playing on the well-known Homer adage. “We would spend about half an hour chatting and the men objected. They didn’t want to use the time for that, so they left.”
For her own part, Claus sang in school, then quit for 23 years. Joining the Seaside Singers provided an opportunity for two things at once: singing and friendship.
“I saw it as an opportunity to meet people and do things outside of work,” she said. “We do all acappella and there are these wonderful people and wonderful voices.”
The group draws songs from more than 1,000 pages of collected music.
Bird poetry draws a wide variety from Homer poets. Poet John Seitz, a favorite at the annual event, takes his inspiration from events that occur during the year. In this year’s case, he arrived home from vacation to the news that a dead crow was in his yard.
“I knew as soon as I heard about the dead crow that it would be the poem I needed to write,” Seitz said.
Last year, Milli Martin went home from On the Wing presentations and penned several poems. Sunrise said she’s been ready all year.
Bird on a Wing will also feature the Homer Ukulele group, Sharon Friezen Schultz, Shane Kilcher, Erin Howell, Bill Moonak, Hannah Heimbuch, Linda Martin, Milli Martin, Carol Dee, Mike and Maka Fairmen, Min Hui Cui and Mary Langham.
Sunrise will do a duet with her sister, Mossy Kilcher and they will show photos from the 1940s in Homer, a historical piece from the homesteading Kilcher family. There will be a video presentation by Nina Faust of Kachemak Crane Watch.
On the Wing evolved over the years as a forum for poets and local musicians, a way to support other artists, Kilcher said. This as the 10th year could mean a few surprises at the event. Funds raised go back into the Shorebird festival.
Members of the Seaside Singers also include Sunrise Kilcher, Jolee Ellis, Arleen Rhonda, Shirley Forquer, Delores Butler, Joan Evans, and Ann Keffer.
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