The hall was alive with the sound of music. And the Sassy Singers produced those notes. The Sassy Singers name fits the group of 31 participants to a tee. A delight to have around, the members’ sense of fun, camaraderie and ticklish humor accentuates their upbeat performance. That vitality, combined with their clear singing, lifts the spirits of those in their company.
Music selections surround the interests of the groups’ main audiences since the gals perform a great deal in nursing homes, at assisted living sites, residential parks/resorts, retirement centers, hospitals, churches and for civic clubs. Their original performance included the Lake Wales Little Theater Variety Show.
Broadway show tunes, popular easy listening music, patriotic and comic songs highlight their repertoire along with other light choral musical pieces all presented in three- and four-part harmony. “On Top of the World,” the song of sunshine and happiness written and sung by the Carpenters in the 1970s, happily welcomed this writer into a recent rehearsal.
The chorus was founded by Marge Drago from a group associated with the Lake Wales Little Theater in 1991, meeting then to rehearse in the Drago living room. Eventually the group grew, and it moved to church rehearsal sites, now meeting at the Hope Presbyterian Church in Winter Haven. The members of the group are largely made up of gals residing in Lake Wales and Winter Haven who meet weekly, fall to spring, for two hours of rehearsal time.
Since its initial season, the members now average about 20 performances each year. The group provides performances for spring and fall with a special Christmas program in December, booking those programs all year long. No charge for the performances, donations do help defray the cost of the sheet music.
Chorus members include year-round residents and many snowbirds.
“A challenging situation, the year-round residents form a smaller group for early fall and late spring,” said Drago. “But the balance between voice parts has remained good allowing for consistent performances.”
The first fall rehearsal is held in September each year with the first performance usually in October. Everyone is welcome to join the group that is always looking for new members, Drago said.
“No auditions are held and all are welcome,” Drago said. “If someone has a problem singing then I ask them to not sing as loud, and if they decide they can’t do it, usually they drop out on their own.”
Drago and her husband, Dan, earned music degrees from Drury University, Springfield, Mo. Marge Drago earned a bachelor’s degree in music education in 1950 with emphasis on vocal music. Her husband of 63 years earned his bachelor of music degree with emphasis on instrumental music, also in 1950. Leaving the music profession, Dan Drago studied for another degree and entered the engineering field, later retiring from Lockheed/Martin in Orlando.
At each city location where her husband was transferred, Marge Drago founded a chorus. In Denver, it was a 100-member PTA mothers’ chorus; in Slidell, La. it was The Bayou Belles.
“After relocating to Orlando, I was asked to join and direct a chorus of wives of Martin employees that became known as the Sunshine Singers,” Drago said. “That group has continued independently in Orlando.”
Due to the proximity and old friendships, the Sunshine Singers and the Sassy Singers share their music libraries and have gathered on an annual basis for a festival where each singers group performs independently and together.
The Sassy Singers is currently booking performances. Those interested should make a reservation by calling Marge Drago at 863-326-9871.