4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Homeless in the House

Voices of Our City Choir dissed at premier venue?

Steph Johnson and the Voices of Our City Choir’s House of Blues experience sucked.
Steph Johnson and the Voices of Our City Choir’s House of Blues experience sucked.

When the San Diego Music Awards approached musician and homelessness advocate Steph Johnson about having her Voices of Our City Choir open the show at House of Blues last month, she and the group were excited.

Past Event

Steph Johnson

“This is a choir composed of homeless people — they were ecstatic to be there,” says Johnson.

“But it was a free gig. We were doing it for a great video — which is what we were promised. To open the show in front of our peers. And we were also promised dinner. I can’t really afford to do free gigs with this group — there’s over 35 people in the choir now and it takes a lot of work just to get everybody there. It’s one thing to ask musicians to perform for free; it’s another thing to ask homeless people who have no money and are hungry to do a gig for free. There was no way I was going to do that unless we were at least getting fed.”

But once the choir arrived in the afternoon for the soundcheck, according to Johnson, things soured. “We squeezed 35 people into the green room. At this point everyone is still in high spirits and excited. After an hour and a half I found the event producer [Kevin Hellman] and asked about the food. He said there was only going to be food for the volunteers that had been working all day. That’s not what they promised. So now I have to leave the event and find some food for the choir.”

“As I’m getting Chinese food and pizzas [for $135 out-of-pocket],” says Johnson, “I’m getting rude and disrespectful text messages claiming that the choir members are wandering around the club disturbing people. It turned out to be one lady who asked someone a question.

“It was the worst treatment we’ve had at a venue so far. These are beautiful people who deserve our respect. Not to be treated like criminals and riff-raff.”

To further complicate things, the sound turned out to be abysmal, nixing the goal of a “great video” as a reward. “Our friends up front couldn’t even hear us,” says Johnson.

“Every year you like to say that it was an honor to be nominated — but this year there was no honor in the way we were treated.”

But things are definitely looking up for the Voices of Our City.

“We’re doing events for special elected officials and different churches. All those gigs pay. Plus PBS is doing a documentary on the choir. We continue to try and find them shelter and show everyone that they are human beings.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Fashion blogger Erin Miller: Boho, chic, and edgy

“It is so rewarding to see people recreate one of my portraits”
Next Article

Tasty trip to Tijuana

They have everything you’d expect, including my latest fave taco, octopus
Steph Johnson and the Voices of Our City Choir’s House of Blues experience sucked.
Steph Johnson and the Voices of Our City Choir’s House of Blues experience sucked.

When the San Diego Music Awards approached musician and homelessness advocate Steph Johnson about having her Voices of Our City Choir open the show at House of Blues last month, she and the group were excited.

Past Event

Steph Johnson

“This is a choir composed of homeless people — they were ecstatic to be there,” says Johnson.

“But it was a free gig. We were doing it for a great video — which is what we were promised. To open the show in front of our peers. And we were also promised dinner. I can’t really afford to do free gigs with this group — there’s over 35 people in the choir now and it takes a lot of work just to get everybody there. It’s one thing to ask musicians to perform for free; it’s another thing to ask homeless people who have no money and are hungry to do a gig for free. There was no way I was going to do that unless we were at least getting fed.”

But once the choir arrived in the afternoon for the soundcheck, according to Johnson, things soured. “We squeezed 35 people into the green room. At this point everyone is still in high spirits and excited. After an hour and a half I found the event producer [Kevin Hellman] and asked about the food. He said there was only going to be food for the volunteers that had been working all day. That’s not what they promised. So now I have to leave the event and find some food for the choir.”

“As I’m getting Chinese food and pizzas [for $135 out-of-pocket],” says Johnson, “I’m getting rude and disrespectful text messages claiming that the choir members are wandering around the club disturbing people. It turned out to be one lady who asked someone a question.

“It was the worst treatment we’ve had at a venue so far. These are beautiful people who deserve our respect. Not to be treated like criminals and riff-raff.”

To further complicate things, the sound turned out to be abysmal, nixing the goal of a “great video” as a reward. “Our friends up front couldn’t even hear us,” says Johnson.

“Every year you like to say that it was an honor to be nominated — but this year there was no honor in the way we were treated.”

But things are definitely looking up for the Voices of Our City.

“We’re doing events for special elected officials and different churches. All those gigs pay. Plus PBS is doing a documentary on the choir. We continue to try and find them shelter and show everyone that they are human beings.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

How Otay changed, secret TJ gardens, Mission Valley's future

San Diego State's Paseo project, building a Rancho Santa Fe mansion, downtown high rises never stop
Next Article

Greensky Bluegrass 20th Anniversary, Sam Smith Livestream from Abbey Road, Full Moon Halloween Hike

Events October 29-October 31, 2020
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close