‘We are Homeless, Not Voiceless’: The Dallas Street Choir

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Jonathan Palant is the leader of a choir in Dallas which has inspired homeless residents at a local shelter. He explained in an interview with Hoda Kotb of TODAY that it was a pick-up choir made up of anyone who was at the day shelter in Dallas (the Dallas Stew Pot). The next thing you know, the Dallas Street Choir ended up singing at New York City’s Carnegie Hall!

Their website states: “The goal of this project is to show that while our members suffer from homelessness and severe disadvantage, they still have a voice and something to say. Please do not give up on us, as we have not given up on ourselves. We are homeless, not voiceless.”

“Homeless, not voiceless…” is a powerful motto and one that rings true with this group. According to the NBC interview, Palant is like family to the choir members and remains the one constant in many of their lives. Mental illness and addiction are just some of the undercurrents that this group regularly copes with. In an instance where someone under the influence is in attendance, Palant and the others kindly recognized that “…maybe this isn’t your week…” and they are asked to kindly come back another time.

The opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall has made history not only for the choir but for the venue as well. And, for many of the members, it was the first time on a plane, and for some, even the first time out of Texas. 25 choir members, joined by another one of Palant’s community choirs, set out on the trip of their lives. And, in its entire history, Carnegie Hall has never once had a homeless choir as a showcase. To Palant, the question of whether his choir was “Carnegie Hall good” never mattered. To him, it was about being “Carnegie Hall-worthy,” and they were. “I’ve been poor all my life, but right now I feel so rich,” one of the choir members said as she got her first view of the amazing New York City venue. The group played the hall in June of this year, and since then, their lead “big voice” has earned himself a solo album, and one of the female singers has gone into transitional housing. “That we used to be homeless, or we’re currently homeless, but we never gave up…” is what the choir’s lead voice wants its crowds to understand. Everyone has something to offer, and indeed this dedicated Dallas Street Choir has that in spades.

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