HomeMeet Your CASA Ambassador: Melinda Thomas [Grass Valley/Nevada City, California]

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When did you first become involved in a cappella? In what capacity?
Hard to say when, exactly, as I've been involved in music, singing, and choral music all my life. I think one major turning point was in college when I heard some friends sing the Manhattan Transfer (Puerling) arrangement of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square." Another was when I participated in the Collegium Musicum early music vocal ensemble, also in college. And then when I attended my first Harmony Sweepstakes competition, that was all she wrote. As I said, I've always been a musician (originally a pianist), but always loved singing. Confidence factors have always had me lagging behind as far as really "letting go" vocally but every day I get a teeny bit stronger at that.

When did you first become involved with CASA?
I attended a couple of the Summits in the Bay Area and was really jazzed to find so many people who were into the whole a cappella scene. When I started my first (ill-fated) a cappella quartet a number of years ago, I joined CASA on their behalf, but when the group disintegrated so did my membership. Then, a couple of years ago, I started writing a few things for the online newsletter, and have been increasing my association with them, little by little, over time. Last fall, I ran in the Race for the Arts in Sacramento and had my pledges donated to CASA - and plan to do so again in 2011.

What area do you cover as a CASA ambassador?
Grass Valley/Nevada City, California

What role do you play as a CASA ambassador and/or what role would you like to play?
That role is being defined in the moment, day by day! I believe my role is to try to bring a cappella music to more people in the community, to promote its performance and to help expose more "ears" to it.

What do you do for work and play?
For work, I am a paraprofessional support person in a community college library. For play, I like to sing a bit. I've been known to trod the boards in various theatrical ventures, musical and otherwise. Also, I enjoy playing with my two dogs, traveling (domestically and internationally), cooking/eating, wine, laughter, doing beadwork, and trying hard not to take myself - or life - too seriously.

Tell us one thing about yourself people would be surprised to learn
Huh. Surprised, huh? Hmm. I dunno, really. One time when I was thirteen years old, I played the Maple Leaf Rag in a Paris bistro, and a young poet named Raimonde composed a poem for me in response. Really.

Favorite a cappella group?
Ummm... whichever one I'm listening to at the moment? Really, it's very hard for me to pick only one, since I like so many different genres of music. Chanticleer is probably my favorite classical group (although they aren't necessarily always a cappella). House Jacks, Take 6, Anonymous 4, Vocal Sampling, Rockapella, Committed ... only the barest tip of the iceberg. I am just thrilled by the sound of human voices in harmony. Period.
Favorite type of music?
Again, impossible to nail down. Classical (symphonic, choral, early, romantic, classic, opera, etc...), hip-hop, singer/songwriter, western swing, hardcore, rap, alternative, ethnic... which is not to say I like EVERYTHING but good examples of any genre can always excite me. It's probably easier for me to say the kinds of music I don't like - Hawaiian music sets my teeth on edge, and I'm not a fan of Lady Gaga (just don't see the point).

Favorite a cappella concert?
That would be one of the Summit concerts, probably about 15 years ago or so (maybe more?) when Vocal Sampling performed and I was Blown. Away.

Anything you'd like the CASA readership to know about your area?
It's beautiful here! And despite the small population, we are an amazingly art-dense spot on the map. There's a lot of music, theatre, visual arts, and dance, along with the beautiful backdrop of the Sierra foothills. Come visit us!


Ab Circle Pro

I personally know Melinda. She is a really hardworking and amiable ambassador.

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