Winston-Salem Pops Chorus lifts up Seniors with the Magic of Music

By Kathy Cooper

Several years ago I found the Winston Salem Pops Chorus when I was having dinner at my friend Woody’s house. He played an old tune on the piano and we started singing along. That was my “official” audition. I had been looking for a new choir and Woody suggested I join the Winston-Salem Pops. To be a member, all I needed to do was enjoy singing, carry a tune, and read music (though a few singers learn by ear).

The Winston Salem Pops Chorus was started a dozen years ago by Kay Shelton and Janet Stewart. They both wanted to sing the best of the oldies with other singers. Kay has continued with the group as director and runs the rehearsals with help from Kevin Mundy and pianist Sean Warring, who is a recent UNCSA graduate. Kay picks the best Broadway tunes and great songs from the forties and fifties and turns the singers into performers. After a few months of rehearsing, we take our songs to area retirement homes. This year we will perform at Trinity Elms and Forsyth Court.

Our audience is often older and struggling with aging issues. They shuffle into the room with walkers, canes and caregivers. But as soon as the singers start performing, the audience comes alive with toe tapping and clapping. They become young again.

We usually mingle with the audience when we finish. An enthusiastic performance of Sixteen Tons found a woman who grew up across the street from Tennessee Ernie Ford. Once a woman shared her tearful story with me after we performed a song dear to her heart, helping her remember a long-ago lost love shot down during WWII. Another time a woman came alive with a big smile and a hug for me at the end. And at that same facility, I saw a man who was withdrawn and non-verbal when he entered with his nurse, sing along to words he remembered.

Singing improves your memory. How many times have you remembered the words of a song from your past? It’s great exercise for the heart and lungs, and improves moods. But most of all it’s just fun! The group size varies, but we have about 30 singers this year, with ages ranging from 45 to 85. We currently meet on Tuesday nights at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church from 6:30-8 p.m. Rehearsals run Fall and Spring with summers off. There are small fees to cover sheet music and the pianist.

This year W-S Pops Chorus auditioned for the Dash and was selected to do a rousing rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner to kick off Memorial Day weekend.  We also performed at the Second Spring Arts Festival. We are always looking for new opportunities to perform, so please feel free to make a request.

Do you like to sing? Come try us out! You can follow us on Facebook by clicking the LIKE button for WS Pops Chorus or email Kay Shelton ( for more information.

Kathy Cooper lives in a 100-year-old house in Washington Park and spends her days painting colorful Floorcloths, gardening and singing tunes with her partner, Steve Lawing. Known for her whimsical paintings, she creates custom rugs and sells her work at


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