By Barb Pert Templeton
Sometimes all it takes is a few upbeat Christmas tunes to get you in the mood for shopping and decorating and the Port Huron Musicale Women’s Chorus will offer two such opportunities over the next few weeks.
The Chorus will present two free Christmas Concerts in Port Huron. The first concert will be on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Salvation Army Citadel and then a repeat of the concert will be held on Tuesday, December 7 at 7 pm at St. John’s United Church.
Debbie Bussineau-King, of Lexington, has been the choir director for more than four years now and said the current roster includes 31 women from across the area. The choir itself has been in existence for over 100 years and each year they host concerts to entertain the public during the first week of December and the first week of May.
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The upcoming holiday concert will include 11 songs by the choir, two solo pieces by piano accompanists and a vocal solo by Bussineau-King. She said they will also perform one song to honor Hanukah.
Members of the choir, which includes mostly women over the age of 40, rehearse every Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Council on Aging in Port Huron. Bussineau-King said they are always recruiting new members and an audition isn’t necessary to join the group.
“Women who are interested can just show up; it is mostly people who can already read music but I’m a former voice teacher so we can also teach them to read music, I use a lot of technique,” she said. “And I’ve rarely had anyone that couldn’t make pitch.”
An impressive resume
A former college professor, Bussineau-King grew up in Flint and graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in music. A lifelong vocalist, she said initially her career plan was to be a band leader but when she got to college that was discouraged and she was told that was not a suitable female profession. She then turned her sights to choir director and moved to Texas to pursue a graduate degree.
After a “short but fulling career” in the professional world of opera, Bussineau-King was offered a teaching position at the University of the Incarnate Word, a Catholic college, in San Antonio. She accepted the post and remained there until retiring and moving back to Michigan in 2016.
“When teaching at the university I got to sing in a lot of places all over the United States through many different programs,” Bussineau-King said.
She recalls a concert in Louisville where she was decked out in a formal gown with big hair and lots of jewelry ready to wow the audience but only three people showed up. Laughing at the memory now, Bussineau-King said it was a big surprise when the curtain went up in the large auditorium with just that little trio ready to listen but she didn’t blink and the show went on.
Sharing her talents
Today, Bussineau-King enjoys leading the local women’s choir and said the current membership is the most they’ve managed in several years. She said members travel from across the Blue Water area including Marysville, St. Clair and Wadhams to take part in the program.
“These members are incredibly loyal and they continue to come back year after year,” she said.
For the upcoming Christmas show the choir will be dressed in black and have been encouraged to add “bling” to their outfits too.
“Wearing black is the easiest way to go, why send everyone out to get a red blouse and end up with five different shades of red? And besides black can hide a multitude of sins,” laughed Bussineau-King.
She’s also the choir director at Trinity Episcopal Church in Port Huron.
The Salvation Army Citadel is located at 2000 Court Street in Port Huron. St. John’s United Church of Christ, 710 Pine Street, Port Huron.