Hello to all of you wonderful singers and faithful readers. This week I am writing about Ménage. They were a jazz and pop octet that were formed by our AD Pat Parr in October 1986. They became ambassadors for the chorus and performed at many events and benefits in small venues. They were an auditioned group and spent a lot of time with each other in their own rehearsals and retreats with Pat.
Among the many accolades that Ménage received was their nomination for "Outstanding Musical Group" by the San Francisco Bay Area Gold Awards. Also Ménage was the only group from the West Coast to be asked to perform at the March on Washington in October, 1987. At this event, the AIDS Quilt was displayed for the first time to a nationwide audience. One of our former singers, Mary Cantrell, wrote a very moving account of her experience at the March and she writes about the music from the stage was carried by the wind over the quilt. Ménage also appeared at the March on Washington in 1993 and I have included a photo from the program page that lists the performers on the rally stages. I noticed that two of the performers who sang after Ménage that afternoon were RuPaul and Melissa Etheridge.
On February 11, 1989, Ménage held their first full cabaret at the fabulous Plush Room in the York Hotel. Among the reviews of this show, both reviewers, Gary Menger and Dennis McMillan, said that "Stepping Out" was definitely Steppin' Up for the group. The evening showcased the group as well as the individual talents of each of the eight singers. They performed such songs as "Putting on the Ritz", Steppin' Out (With My Baby)", "Birth of the Blues", "St. Louis Woman", "It Don't Mean a Thing", "As Time Goes By", "Dancing in the Dark", "All That Jazz", and "Razzle Dazzle".
The next year Ménage had their second cabaret show called "Hit Me With a Hot Note". They sang the title song, "Stompin' at the Savoy", "Honeysuckle Rose", "Sweet Georgia Brown", "I've Got a Crush on You", "You Don't Know Me", and a beautiful duet by Lisa Gray and Carol Booth singing "The Rose". All in all another wonderful of music from our octet.
In 1991, Ménage was nominated for the 1991 Cable Car Award for Outstanding Performing Group. In December, 1992, at MCC in the Castro, Ménage presented a holiday concert called "Holiday Issues (I'm Dreaming of a Trite Christmas)" and you can imagine what these issues were. One other program I have is of Ménage appearing as a special guest of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and Windy City Gay Chorus which was called "A Song of Two Cities". So as you all can see, from this sample of the various events and concerts that Ménage put on, they were indeed the best ambassadors for the chorus that we could hope for. Enjoy the pictures, especially the one where they are really getting to know one another.
Next week I will be writing about Billy Sauerland's last concert with us so stay tuned.
Cheers, Michael Lucero