20 Reasons Why Atlanta is America’s Music Capital

We lift voices

Illustration by Miss Lotion

Ever since Robert Shaw picked up the baton of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus in 1970, Atlanta has been a powerhouse of choral music. Choirs fill our churches, music halls, and sometimes-cynical hearts with harmony.

One of the most inspiring is the Atlanta Homeward Choir for people experiencing homelessness. Its founder, Dónal Noonan, was born and raised in Ireland but later moved to Atlanta, where the large homeless population “slapped him in the face.” He founded the organization shortly after arriving in 2012. In its third year, the group was invited to sing at the White House. And now, with the help of Project Community Connections Inc. and First Step Staffing, many members have found work and places to live. Last year, the group started a second choir for women. Here’s a look at some of Atlanta’s other famed choirs:

Committed to inclusivity and excellence in vocal performance, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus has nearly doubled in size since its founding almost 40 years ago. The group has shared the stage with hometown notables like the Atlanta Opera, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the Atlanta Ballet, as well as poet and writer Maya Angelou. It added the Atlanta Women’s Chorus in 2013.

In just over half of a century, the Atlanta Boy Choir, another Grammy Award–winning choral group, has had thousands of young men on its roster, representing all races, ethnicities, and social backgrounds. They have performed at some of the world’s most prestigious concert venues, such as Westminster Abbey and Vienna’s Musikverein.

About 200 volunteer singers, chosen by audition, make up the Grammy-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, which Shaw founded almost 50 years ago. They have performed worldwide, including for the Berlin Philharmonic and at Jimmy Carter’s presidential inauguration in 1977.

Without its highly respected chorus, the Atlanta Opera wouldn’t be able to achieve its trademark, full-bodied sound. With 80 core members—most of whom are not full-time singers but attorneys, doctors, and civil servants—the chorus has performed in more than 100 productions.