Lesbian/Feminist Chorus, Amasong, Transforming Community of Champaign-Urbana, IL

The United States has a long tradition of feminist activism.  We’ve come a long way since the women’s suffrage movement began at the Seneca Falls Convention of 1868.  From its inception, the feminist movement has included a multiplicity of voices and individuals with intersecting social identities.  Audre Lorde famously said, "Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference -- those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older -- know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths.” (Sister Outsider:  Essays and Speeches)

That is exactly what Dr. Kristina Boerger decided to do when she created The Amasong Chorus in the small Illinois college town of Champaign-Urbana.  Amasong is a play on the words amazon and song.  Boerger said, “The word amazon conjures up images of strong women who make their own decisions. It was a way of coding our group in a certain way.”  She did not find a place to fit in when she, as a student pursuing a master’s degree in choral conducting, first moved to the town that bridges rural and urban identities.  She decided to use the art of choral singing to give voice to and create community for a diverse group of women who shared her passion for activism. 

The chorus has grown from a roomful of women who responded to a flyer posted around town to a nationally recognized choral ensemble comprised of women who are diverse in interest, age and experience.  Now in their 26th season, the group champions works by female composers, performs two annual concerts, hosts choral festivals and marches in the local C-U Pride Parade.  In 2002, Jay Rosenstein produced a PBS documentary that tells the story of Amasong called The Amasong Chorus:  Singing Out. Now under the direction of Jill Crandall, the chorus continues to welcome women and to give voice to lesbians and feminists in the Champaign-Urbana area and beyond.