This Seattle choir aims to help members recover from trauma

When Rebekka Goldsmith rushes into the studio for the Path with Art Singers’ weekly rehearsal, some students are already buzzing with energy. Other students are more subdued, waiting in quiet anticipation for the class to begin.

“I’ll have a mix of people who are really excited to be here, and some people for whom it took everything they had that day to get here,” Goldsmith, teaching artist for Path with Art Singers, said. “And I don’t take that lightly. I want to make it a space where people feel comfortable showing up as they are.”

The Path with Art Singers is a choir group supported by the organization Path with Art, a Seattle-based nonprofit with a mission to connect people recovering from homelessness, addiction and other trauma to arts programming. It is an effort to harness creative engagement as a means towards community and stability.

For Andrea Hill, who comes from a family of singers, and Lee Smith, who is a formally trained singer, the choir is a return to singing. Choir member Anitra Freeman is not a shy performer, as a member of the Seattle political singing group The Raging Grannies, but Path with Art allows her to concentrate less on theatrical performance and more on her voice and connecting with fellow choir members.

For Goldsmith, the choir is less about a final performance than the process of collaboration between individual members and their voices.

“I get to know people; we get to know each other. It is a loving space that we co-create,” Goldsmith said. “And the fact that it’s music! It’s my favorite place to be in relationship to people.”

Song credits: “Breathe In, Breathe out” by Tich Nat Hanh and Sarah Dan Jones, “We Let the Love” by Rickie Byers Beckwith. Produced by PBS local station KCTS in Seattle. Local Beat is an ongoing series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.