Happiness comes in music and friends.
By Carrie Vittitoe

Marty Woelfel didn’t sing in a chorus in high school or college, although she did sing a bit with a church choir during her younger years. She would often become frustrated because bass parts were not written for women, and she would have to modulate her voice to sing a man’s part.

Still, she loved music, so in 1983, Marty became a member of the Pride of Kentucky Chorus of Sweet Adelines International, where she continues to be involved today as a retiree. Singing with the group can be both stress-inducing and stress-busting, she says.

Marty and the chorus are practicing the choreography of one of their upcoming competitions in Las Vegas.
Photos by Melissa Donald 

The stress-inducing part is preparing for a competition and working to get the songs just right. Competitive performances are also nerve-racking, especially if the director isn’t happy with how the chorus is singing. But, “When all is going well, you just get completely lost in the music,” Marty says. “The rest of the world goes away.” It raises goosebumps on her skin when a choral group sings well. “It creates an audible sound that goes beyond the four different harmonic parts.”

Marty sings a wide variety of music with her chorus mates. They have been working on new songs, including Sing by Pentatonix, Katy Perry’s Roar and Firework, and Pharrell Williams’ Happy. They’ve also sung barbershop arrangements of songs from the Broadway musical Camelot.

The friendships she’s forged with other women are her favorite part of singing in the Pride of Kentucky Chorus. “Friendships are the most important thing that make me stay,” she says.

Debbie Hite, the musical director, encourages the group to build camaraderie. During practice, she asks members to share some good news with everyone. 

Travel has been a fun byproduct of singing with the chorus. The group has traveled extensively for regional and international competitions, from as close as Lexington to as far away as Hawaii. Marty and her choral friends often extend their competitive visits into fun vacations. She is excited about the October Sweet Adelines International competition in Las Vegas, where she hopes the chorus will place in the top 5.

During her professional life, Marty was a biology professor at Kentucky State University. In her retired life, she uses her experience with young people to coordinate the A Cappella Festival of Kentuckiana. “It is satisfying to see where these young people go,” she says.

For many years, Marty also coordinated the Singing Valentines program for the Pride of Kentucky Chorus. She says it was a busy time of year, took huge amounts of work, and, therefore, was stressful. But she adds, “Then we’d go out and sing and make people so happy,” which reduced stress and made the endeavor worth it.

The group practices their vocals and choreography. 

Marty and her Pride of Kentucky friends practice every Tuesday at the Clifton Center at 7:30pm. Visitors are always welcome to watch practices or even to come up and sing.