Choral music with a twist comes to Shatford Centre

As a folk singer, DeAnna MacArthur could have never imagined being part of an all-female choir

  • Dec. 5, 2013 7:00 a.m.
DeAnna MacArthur

DeAnna MacArthur

As a folk singer, DeAnna MacArthur could have never imagined being part of an all-female choir.

“I play a banjo. It is not something I thought I could do,” said MacArthur.

Two years later MacArthur, who recently moved away from Penticton, is having the time of her life with Kelowna’s Celebration Singers.

“I didn’t think I was the type of person that wears stage makeup, carries a big smile on stage and wears glitzy jewelry, but I fell in love with it,” said MacArthur who will be performing with the group on Dec. 8 at the Shatford Centre.

MacArthur, who is a physiotherapist in her day job, still loves performing outside the choral world. Her band Two Feet and a Heartbeat played at a fundraiser at The Elite in November. Coming back to perform in Penticton is always a treat for her.

“I love it. When I first moved there from Newfoundland I kept to myself for the first six months then I started going out and enjoying all the live music and found this wonderful community of people they want you to succeed and see what you can do,” said MacArthur.

Her job then took her to Kelowna where a co-worker introduced her to the Celebration Singers who took MacArthur’s alto voice in and out of her comfort zone.

“I didn’t know my own voice. I sang in my comfort zone which is low and never stretched or thought I could sing high. Now I’m hitting high notes. I have a difference or colour in my voice and have learned how to use my body properly and my diaphragm. My range is also way bigger than I thought it was,” said MacArthur, who has then turned around and applied that to her folk music. “This wonderful group of ladies took me and helped me grow.”

Artistic director Susan Skinner has also been an inspiration for MacArthur. Skinner began her career as an opera singer in the U.S. and Germany. She won critical acclaim for her role of Lucy in Menotti’s The Telephone and as Despina in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. In 2009 she brought her passion for music and the theatre to the Celebration Singers.

“She has this amazing ability to mix music and keep shows afloat so the audience doesn’t get bored. I was super nervous when I first joined and thought I would be singing church music and just standing there with a smile. It wasn’t like that at all,” she said. “The music is so fun and we have the director yelling at us to add a ‘little bit of sass.’ It’s cool when a director can see things in you that you can’t. Then next thing you know you are doing solos and singing things way out of your range and doing dance numbers. Susan sees things in people  and challenges you to do it.”

The Celebration Singers concert, All I Want For Christmas, will combine traditional Christmas carols that everyone knows and loves, original compositions and definitely a lot of fun.

“We have some pretty unexpected things for the audience, I don’t want to ruin it for them so I will leave it at that. We have traditional beautiful choral music and some off the wall stuff so our concerts bring a mix of different people who come to enjoy it for many different reasons,” said MacArthur.

The Celebration Singers are performing at the Shatford Centre on Sunday at 3 p.m. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. and tickets are $20, $15 for seniors/students and children under 12 are free. They are available online at, at the Shatford Centre and at the door. Proceeds from the concert will go towards the Shatford Community Kitchen. MacArthur said it is exciting to see what the Shatford has become.

“I remember well how the community banded together to save this historic building and turn it into the accessible and community-driven centre it is today. I am proud to have been part of that movement and am in awe to see what it has become. This will be an exciting show for more reasons than the wonderful music, direction and accompaniment,” she said.