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Chicago-based musical youth organization opens its second branch in Lexington

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton speaks at the introductory conference for
Shepherd Snyder
Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton speaks at the introductory conference for United Voices Lexington alongside Artistic Director Michael Preacely

A nonprofit vocal music program based out of Chicago is establishing a new branch for youths in Lexington starting early October.

United Voices Lexington is the second branch of the Chicago-based organization, formerly known as the Chicago Children’s Choir. They’ve performed with artists like Yo-Yo Ma, Queen Latifah and Chance the Rapper. An event at Transylvania University introduced the after-school music program Thursday morning.

Michael Preacely is the organization’s artistic director. He says what makes the choir unique is its focus on cultural empowerment and accessibility.

“We don't just teach the music, we teach the culture behind the music,” Preacely said. “We were very intentional about making these things culturally responsive to the students that we serve, into the communities that we serve. You know, Lexington is striving to be that cosmopolitan place.”

The program is tuition based - but Preacely says price is based on a sliding scale to make it more accessible for all demographics.

“We don't want someone to say, ‘Wow, that costs too much money,’ or ‘Wow, I can't do that,’ Preacely said. “We want these kids to be able to open up the door and say I can do this right now. Not ‘I have to wait for something,’ you know what I mean?”

The first rehearsal is scheduled for October 3 for children in grades six through 12. The season will continue through May 14.

Shepherd joined WEKU in June 2023 as a staff reporter. He most recently worked for West Virginia Public Broadcasting as General Assignment Reporter. In that role, he collected interviews and captured photos in the northern region of West Virginia. Shepherd holds a master’s degree in Digital Marketing Communication and a bachelor’s in music from West Virginia University.
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