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June 15, 2014

Sweet sopranos

Trio spend decades singing praise

Louise Steele, Dot French and Virginia Calvin have spent countless hours in the choir loft at First Presbyterian Church in Athens.

Though it’s hard to recall the exact time they met, the trio has stuck together through good and bad.

“I don’t know that we even remember how long it’s been,” French said.

One thing is certain, singing in the choir and their dedication to the church has kept them close through at least six decades. Steele and French have been in choir since the mid-40s. Calvin found her place in the choir loft in the 1960s.

“Choir has always been a great opportunity to sing praises,” Calvin said. “I think we always feel better after deeply thinking about the music. We’ve always had great choir directors that bring out the best.”

Calvin credited the congregation, who she said seems to always find a way to say “thank you” and other nice things that, at times, some might not feel they deserve. “They make us feel like we have made a difference,” she said.

Steele has enjoyed the friendship. “There were just so many people that I knew in the choir,” she said. “That was the calling card because they were all very, very nice and inviting. I felt so welcome.”

French has enjoyed singing as far back as she can remember. “I have sung all my life,” she said. “I grew up in a little Methodist church in Elkmont and I mean I grew up in it because it was just down the street from where I lived. I would go with my little songbook walking — I always walked to Sunday school.”

French would sing solos. She remembers a neighbor (Mrs. Gilbert) stopping her on the way to church. She would ask her if she was going to sing. The neighbor’s daughter would play the piano and French would sing. “I would have to audition,” she laughed. “It was right funny. I danced, too. I’ve been a dancer as well as a singer.”

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