GenOUT ‘Youth Invasion’ concert raised up LGBTQI+ teens

But it was the seniors of the Mosaic Harmony community choir who got things shaking.

When I reviewed the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington’s concert Brand New Day in mid-March at the Lincoln Theatre, I extolled its virtue of showcasing inclusivity and equality with its wonderful renditions of songs on the subject. In that concert, each of GMCW’s five components performed, and I was introduced to GenOUT Youth Chorus, its outreach ensemble of LGBTQI+ and allied 13- to 18-year-olds.

Well, this time around the spotlight was squarely on GenOUT’s concert Youth Invasion, which I attended at THEARC. The program also featured the Mosaic Harmony community choir, a seniors group committed to “empower choirs to fully entertain, inspire and engage audiences by both moving music and uplifting messages.”

The concept of supporting youth — who are coping with not just being young but also the pressure of understanding their sexual orientation and coming to grips with self-acceptance — is a powerful mission of the GMCW. Achieving that goal through music is liberating and inspirational and lends itself to providing these young people with a means to gird themselves with pride, self-understanding, and a profound sense of worth.

C. Paul Heins conducting the GenOUT Youth Chorus in ‘Youth Invasion.’ Photo courtesy of Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC.

C. Paul Heins, GenOUT’s director, provides the training and artistic inspiration for these young people to flourish and, through artistic expression, develop confidence and self-affirmation that will enable them to better face the challenges that will come before them.

With this in mind, I imagined a repertoire that would be evocative, celebratory, and, yes, rousing. The program selections were certainly appropriate and hit the mark in terms of intent and appropriateness but tended to be more somber and reflective. All of the songs — “Build Me a World,” “Reflection” (from the animated film Mulan), “Imagine” (based on the poem by long-time LGBTQI+ activist Donna Red Wing), “Write My Own ‘Story,” “The Human Heart” (from the musical Once on This Island), “How Could Anyone?,” “I Was Here (Beyonce), and “You Are the New “Day” — beautifully conveyed the hopes, dreams, aspirations, and reflections of these young people. The one song that could have surely been a showstopper, “Corner of the Sky” (from the musical Pippin), was only quietly delivered. Near the end, GenOUT performed with Mosaic Harmony in a straightforward rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (the Negro national anthem).

Above: members of the GenOUT Youth Chorus in ‘Youth Invasion’; below: Rev. David North conducting members of the Mosaic Harmony community choir in ‘Youth Invasion.’ Photos courtesy of Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC.

Ironically, it was the guest group, Mosaic Harmony, that got things shaking. Under the foot-stomping, hand-clapping, roof-raising direction of Rev. David North, Mosaic Harmony’s performance became a glorious celebration with spirited versions of the gospel songs “Love in Any Language,” Hezekiah Walker’s “Better,” and “One World.” Rev. North said that he wanted to bring a “new flavor” to the gospel staple “Soon I Will Be Done,” made popular in the 1959 movie Imitation of Life sung by the great Mahalia Jackson. Man, did he deliver! He infused this deeply spiritual anthem with jazzy inflections and uptempo flourishes that had the audience clapping and rejoicing with abandon. (Mahalia wouldn’t want to hear it anymore!) This closing number was just the right touch that the whole affair should have reflected.

That it was shared with this wonderful, young, and talented group I am sure will make it an experience and lesson learned that they will never forget. This was a great example of how reaching across needless barriers and constrictions can bring about tremendous connection and mutual appreciation. It was an afternoon I would gladly spend over again.

Youth Invasion was performed by the GenOUT Youth Chorus with special guest Mosaic Harmony on April 23, 2022, at THEARC Theater, 1901 Mississippi Avenue SE, Washington, DC, and on April 24, 2022, in the Auditorium at MLK Library, 901 G Street NW, Washington, DC.

The Youth Invasion playbill is online here.

For future Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington concerts and events — including GMCW’s Spring Affair fundraiser on May 14, 2022 — go to their website.

GMCW’s inspirational ‘Brand New Day’ sings of equality and inclusivity (review by Michael Sante-Andress)


featuring GenOUT Youth Chorus with special guest Mosaic Harmony

“Build Me a World” | Ginger Littleton
“Reflection” | Music by Matthew Wilbur from Mulan | Lyrics by David Zippel | Arranged by Mac Huff
“Corner of the Sky” | Stephen Schwartz from Pippin | Arranged by John Cacavas
“Imagine” | Music by Jennifer Higdon | Poem by Donna Red Wing
“Write My Own Story” | GenOUT Chorus & Jim Papoulis
“The Human Heart” | Music by Stephen Flaherty from Once On This Island | Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens | Arranged by Raymond Rinaldo | Soloist: Paul Negron
“Chosen Family” | Rina Sawayama, Danny Harle, & Jonny Latimer | Arranged by Raymond Rinaldo | Soloists: Alex Dy Cruz, Paul Negron
“How Could Anyone?” | Libby Roderick | Arranged by Mac Huff
“I Was Here” | Gary Burr, Hillary Scott, & Victoria Shaw | Arranged by Alan Billingsley
“You Are the New Day” | John David | Arranged by Peter Knight | Adapted by Jacob Narverud

“Love in Any Language” | John Mohr & John Mays | Soloists: Laura Romstedt, Kim Moss (4/24), Doug Powell
“Better” | Hezekiah Walker

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” | Music by J. Rosamond Johnson | Poem by James W. Johnson
“Soon I Will Be Done” | African American spiritual | Arranged by David K. North
“One World” | Mark Hayes

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Michael Sainte-Andress
Michael Sainte-Andress is truly an asset to the DC Metro area and is highly regarded among local government, business, education, HIV community, and faith-based organizations.  He champions arts education in public schools, adult literacy, voter registration, and civil/human rights.  He is also a tireless advocate and courageous visionary for people living with HIV and has selflessly allowed his own journey (diagnosed HIV+ in 1986) to be an inspiration to those who witness his work in his community.  He is a graduate of Lincoln University (PA) with a degree in English and Sociology.  He is an educator, a professional multi-threat entertainer (actor/producer/director), an award-winning poet and writer, but more importantly he is fully committed to making the world a better place in which to live.  He honorably served in the U.S. Navy and since 1974 has made DC his home.  He is a two-time Mayoral appointee to the Ryan White HIV  Health Services Planning Council and a Mayoral appointee to the Citizens Police Complaint Review Board.  He does all these things with a determination and sense of purpose that is remarkable.  A good description of him is that of a “good soldier."



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