From There
to
Here. . .
photo of Barbara Johnson and Charlotte Roberts
Barbara Johnson and Charlotte Roberts, 2008
    Ft. Collins in 1965...a town of about 40,000 people with a beautiful city park, a state university and a vital
    downtown....everyone shopped in the three department stores (the Classic, the State and J.C. Penney), plus
    several smaller clothing and specialty shops. Within a three block radius you could get your car serviced, buy
    stamps at the post office, eat a sandwich at the lunch counter in Woolworth, and take in a movie followed by an ice
    cream cone at Poudre Valley Creamery.  Men frequented Osborne Hardware and Toliver's where you could find
    anything from a replacement knob for your stove to a horse collar. The south city limit was Prospect Road, and a
    lawyer on the corner of Loomis and Mulberry Streets had chickens roosting in his hedge. It was a great place to
    live.

    Tracy and Charlotte Roberts certainly thought it was, and chose Ft. Collins as their home when Tracy retired from
    the Air Force. Music had always been Charlotte's passion. Wherever they had been stationed over the years, she
    had joined an existing singing group or started one. As soon as she was settled, Charlotte told Phyllis Mattingly, Ft.
    Collins sole Welcome Wagon lady, that if there was no women's singing group in town she intended to start one.
    With Phyllis "passing the word" in the community, Charlotte was soon off and running. (She used to say she liked
    wearing red shoes because she could move faster in them!) In October of 1965, the Women's Choral Group of Ft.
    Collins was born in Charlotte's living room, attended by about 20 young women.

    We were the only act in town, and our numbers grew rapidly to 30, 40, 50 and even 60 at one point. Most of us were
    young stay-at-home mothers, so a nursery was provided for the Tuesday morning practices with sometimes as many
    as 25 children present. Thus the singing year revolved around the school calendar. When school was closed, so
    was the group. In the beginning, we operated on a shoe string, circulating an envelope during practice for
    members to drop in change to pay for music. That actually worked when music was 20 cents a copy. The singing was
    always free, although an occasional organization gave a donation when we sang for them. Several churches
    generously housed the Tuesday practices over the years -- St. Paul's Episcopal church and Shepherd of the Hills
    Lutheran Church in the 1960s, First United Methodist Church from 1970 to 1980, and First Presbyterian Church
    since 1980.  Concert dress has evolved from the 1960's short black dresses to long black dresses, long black skirts
    and colorful blouses, and now our signature sparkly blue blouses and long black skirts. In our early years there was
    a "floating" black maternity dress that rotated around to members when needed. It became an "in" joke that if
    someone began nibbling crackers and running to the ladies room during practice, someone could be counted on to
    yell "Where's the pregnant black dress?"

    As our membership grew, so did the demand for our music. We sang several times with the Ft. Collins Symphony
    Orchestra--twice joining other voices to perform Beethoven's "9th" and Rachmaninoff's "The Bells." In 1976 we
    performed in the centennial celebration. We sang a part in The Planets, and in 1979 were honored to be asked to
    sing "La Demoiselle Elue" by Debussy, in French no less.  In 1984, the Ft. Collins Symphony released a record to
    celebrate our 35th anniversary. (The Women's Choral Group is included on each side of the recording.)

    On May 2, 1978, our group piled into cars and drove to a recording studio in Denver to make a record. It was also in
    1978 that the Timnath Presbyterian Church asked the choir to sing a full hour Christmas program in their sanctuary
    on the first Sunday in December. So began the group's annual Christmas concert, performed for 20 years in Timnath
    to an increasingly packed house and later moved to various roomier churches.

    From 1979 through 1985, we performed for Broadcast Day at Colorado State University, and in 1985 Gerald Ford was
    present for the event. In the years 1977 through 1980, the Women's Choral Group anchored "The Gala", a music
    scholarship benefit held in the Rocky Mountain High School auditorium. They also sang carols in the Foothills Mall,
    Poudre Valley Hospital, First National and Poudre Valley Banks during the Christmas season. There were programs
    for Rotary, Kiwanis, the Lion's Club and REA's annual meeting, as well as singing in all the nursing homes. One
    spring the group sang for almost all the elementary and junior high schools in Ft. Collins to show children you are
    never "to old" to enjoy singing.

    The Spring Sing started as a night in May to end the season by singing for husbands and children--thus cookies
    and punch were served afterwards as a bribe to the kids to be really quiet and well behaved until "cookie time."  
    Over the years our audience grew, as more and more extended family, friends and neighbors began to attend.
    Eventually we graduated from singing for loved ones in church basements to performances in church sanctuaries
    with the general public invited.

    Members have come and gone over these many years due to life changes, moves, employment and health issues.
    But like the proverbial bad penny, our members keep returning like homing pigeons. Maybe it's because each one
    knows that those of us who are fortunate enough to be a part of making beautiful music with this wonderful group
    of women are truly blessed.

    In January of 2007, Charlotte's health made it impossible for her to continue as the choir's director. As a result,
    there was no spring season or concert that year. But we all knew that Tuesday mornings would never be the same
    unless we were brought together again, singing. Many members worked diligently throughout that summer to save
    the choir. They conferred with each other, calculated finances, made endless calls to members, and got
    commitments for attendance and dues. When Barbara Johnson agreed to be our new director everything fell into
    place. Prayers had been answered!  On September 11, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. in the choir room at First Presbyterian
    Church, there we were--together once more--familiar faces and new ones, all SINGING AGAIN!

    Even though Charlotte left us and this world in the spring of 2009, what she created lives on--hopefully forever.
    What a wonderful legacy she passed on to all of us.

    Today the choral group continues to evolve and grow. After surveying the members in the spring of 2011, it was
    decided that the group needed to expand the scope of singers to include all of northern Colorado and to align our
    new group with a more recognizable and comprehensive name. Thus in July of 2011, the Board of Directors
    unanimously decided to officially change the name of the group to Colorado Women of Song.
columbine flower