PRODUCER: Jessilee Windhaus
SOUND: Ben Reese


Choir Members

Alana Andrade
Alex Guerrero
Alicia Brimhall
Alicia Busse
Alyssa Al-Jamea
Ana Falaleyev
Bev Childer
Caitlin Lavoie
Claudia Parks
Danielle Steiner
Denise Delmatier Theisen
Donna Hardaker
Emily Kenna
Eric Rasbold
Erin O’Brien Skyles
Genevieve Carreon
Lauren Sage
Leslie McFadden
Lisa Luthra
Jacqueline Fostar
Jim Hewlett
Jessilee Windhaus
Johnna Philipps
Katrin Escobar
Lauren Sage
Maggie Goldbar
Mandy Carillo
Margo Hollingsworth
Marina Castro
Max Falaleyev
Nandini Ghandi
Natalie Peeples
Nathan Unangst
Rocky Ford
Rosaura Unangst
Sarah Torres
Sumita Ram
Tresa Edmunds

Artistic Director Heather Waid & Managing Director Emily Maghanoy Perez

Artistic Director Heather Waid & Managing Director Emily Maghanoy Perez

Artistic Director’s Note: Welcome to the inaugural Empire Pop Choir concert! We are all so excited to share the music we’ve been working on with you, and I am full of immense pride at what our singers have accomplished. This has been an incredible project to build from the ground up. A little backstory; I was about a month into being bored after completing my MFA degree when Empire Arts Collective approached me about starting this choir and I jumped at the opportunity to begin a new endeavor. Months of planning plus the support of some very generous and talented friends led to our public launch in November 2018, at which point we had simultaneous thoughts of, “Oh my god, we actually started a choir,” and “What if nobody signs up?” To our great relief and excitement, over forty people decided to join us on this adventure. Wednesday night rehearsals with this group have become one of the highlights of my week. By the time Wednesday rolls around, I’m usually on my third very long and late day in a row. However, working with this group of enthusiastic singers is so rewarding, and even if we’re exhausted when we leave (I know I am!), I think it’s safe to say that everyone is in a good mood. We hope you enjoy our first concert, and consider joining us for our next term! Singing is one of the easiest ways to lift our spirits, and we’d love to have you as part of the Empire Pop Choir. - Heather Waid

Sing from “Sesame Street”
Written By: Joe Raposo
Arranged by: Heather Waid
Soloists: Jessilee Windhaus, Margo Hollingsworth, Jim Hewlett, Max Falalayev

Composer Joe Raposo wrote many songs throughout his tenure as composer-in-residence at Sesame Street, including its iconic theme song and “C is for Cookie”. In fact, it’s also rumored that Raposo’s sweet tooth was the inspiration for Cookie Monster. The song “Sing” is among the most well-known of his Sesame Street compositions and has been performed in English, Spanish, and sign language on the show. We chose this song in tribute to Empire Pop Choir’s belief that singing is for everyone.

We can Always Come Back to This from “This is Us”
Written By: Siddhartha Khosla and Richard Pierce
Arranged by: Heather Waid
Soloists: Ali Brimhall & Denise Thiesen

“We Can Always Come Back to This” was specifically written for the episode, “Memphis,” on the drama “This Is Us,”  and is written in homage to the Stax/soul sound that is particular to that city. This episode features the backstory of Randall’s biological father William. It shows William’s musical life before it was derailed by the tragic circumstances that lead to him giving up Randall for adoption. The song was written specifically for the episode and is featured twice. In its first appearance, it is sung by William’s band after he finally dares to present his composition to them, and in the second scene it is sung by a female soloist as Randall drives home from his father’s funeral. Says composer Khosla, “If I think about the show, and the entire series is that life doesn’t really end ever, the idea is there in the refrain, ‘We can always come back to this.”

Happy Days are Here Again/Come on get Happy from “Glee”
Written By: Jack Yellen, Milton Ager (Happy Days are Here Again) and Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler (Get Happy)
Arranged by: Philip Kern
Soloists: Emily Kenna and Alana Andrade

The phenomenon of mash-ups was in full swing when Glee’s second season began airing in 2010, and the show joined in the trend with its episode, “Duets,” in which various characters split up and pair up as they navigate the intricacies of high school drama. This particular mash-up of songs actually debuted on “The Judy Garland Show” in 1963 performed by Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland. Characters Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel sing this duet celebrating a sunny outlook by two of their idols as the characters resolve their various dramas to come together in song.

Rainbow Connection from “The Muppet Show”
Written By: Paul Williams & Kenneth Ascher
Arranged By: Audrey Snyder

Williams and Ascher, who had previously collaborated on several songs for the 1976 film A Star Is Born, were tasked with writing the songs for The Muppet Movie which debuted in 1979. For the song that became "Rainbow Connection", Jim Henson told them that the opening scene should feature Kermit the Frog by himself, singing and playing the banjo. The song functions as a classic “I want song” in the tradition of “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, encouraging the optimistic dreamer in each of us to continue searching for beauty.

What you Feel from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
Written By: Joss Whedon
Soloist: Joel Case & Alex Yoon-Hendricks

Things in Sunnydale aren't as harmonious as usual. The balance is thrown off kilter when a mysterious force makes everyone in town burst into song and dance, revealing their deepest secrets as they do. Fresh off Empire Arts Collective’s annual run of “Once More, with Feeling!” the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comes our singing demon himself, using the power of music to reveal our deepest secrets.

TV Show Theme Song Medley (Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Friends, Cheers, The Golden Girls and Sesame Street)
Written By: “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” written by Fred Rogers, “I’ll Be There for You” written by David Crane, Marta Kauffman, Michael Skloff & Willis Allee, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo, “Thank You for Being a Friend” by Andrew Gold and “Sesame Street” by Bruce Hart, Joe Raposo and Jon Stone.
Arranged by: Heather Waid

At its best, television brings us together in a form of community storytelling. We enter the lives of fictional characters week after week, accompanying them through their hijinks, failures, and journeys of growth and love. For our tv show theme song medley we chose five iconic theme songs that celebrate optimism and friendship. Our medley begins with “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” written by Fred Rogers, who famously testified before Congress as to the importance of quality television and its power to create good in the world. It concludes with the Sesame Street Theme Song which to this day continues to use it’s closing theme song to state its thesis, encouraging our little ones to grow “smarter, kinder and stronger”.

Bad Stuff Happens in the Bathroom from “Bob’s Burgers”
Written By: Loren Bouchard, Timothy John Dacey, Steven A Davis and Kelvin Yu
Arranged by: Heather Waid

Animated show “Bob’s Burgers” is well-known for its frequent and stellar musical numbers, and “Bad Stuff Happens in the Bathroom” from their 100th episode, “Glued, Where’s My Bob?” is a perfect example of their musical prowess. After a goop war prank gone wrong, titular character Bob finds himself super-glued to his restaurant’s toilet on the same day he is supposed to be interviewed for a magazine. As Bob tries to pep talk himself during the song, his daughter, Louise, who caused the sticky situation, sings a counter-melody about how she’ll find a way to save the day.

Face Your Fears from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
Written By: Rachel Bloom, Jack Dolgen, Sono Patel & Adam Schleschinger
Arranged by: Heather Waid
Soloists: Alicia Busse

“Face Your Fears” was written for and performed on the 1st season of the musical comedy “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” As protagonist/anti-hero Rebecca waffles about throwing a party, her best friend, Paula, exhorts her to face her fears. Played in the show by broadway pro Donna Lynn Champlin, Paula is a best friend on a mission to convert Rebecca to courage. However, her pep talk quickly goes off the deep, and we’d like to note for liability reasons that despite what the lyrics assert, we always recommend keeping your Epi-pen on your person at all times; also, stay in school.


Smelly Cat from “Friends”
Written By: Chrissie Hynde, Lisa Kudrow
Arranged by: Heather Waid

On this seminal 90’s sitcom, Lisa Kudrow portrayed Phoebe Buffay, a free-spirited New Yorker whose dedication to music was only matched by her offbeat lyrics and “avant-garde” musicality. The best known of her oeuvre is “Smelly Cat”, an ode to an alley cat. We decided to apply classical rigor to Phoebe’s composition and thus was born the Smelly Cat Fugue, a comedic chanson of empathy to the misunderstood cat in each of us.

I’ll Never Tell from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
Written By: Joss Whedon
Soloists: Chelsea Garland & Ben Miller

You already met our dancing demon from Sunnydale and now we’re ready to introduce his side effects on two Sunnydale residents: Anya and Xander. Engaged to be married but terrified that they’re not up to the task they unwillingly reveals their deepest insecurities (and complaints!) about each other in this retro pastiche. Fresh off Empire Arts Collective annual run of “Once More, with Feeling!” the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer we’re rooting for a happy ending for our favorite former-demon/human couple.

Somebody to Love as arranged for “Glee”
Written by: Freddie Mercury
Arranged by: Adam Anders, Tim Davies and Roger Emerson
Soloists: Caitlin Lavoie and Tresa Edmunds

Written by Freddie Mercury at the piano, "Somebody to Love" is a soul-searching piece that cites Mercury’s fascination with Aretha Franklin as a major influence. Through voice layering techniques, Queen was able to create the soulful sound of a 100-voice choir, with that of only three voices: Mercury, Brian May, and Roger Taylor. We have about 40 voices and the arrangement we are singing was originally performed on the 1st Season of Glee.

I’m On a Boat from “Saturday Night Live”
Written By: Adam Cherrington, Faheem Najm, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone
Arranged by: Heather Waid
Soloists: Jessilee Windhaus

Written by parody rap stars The Lonely Island and featuring T-Pain, “I’m On a Boat” both skewers and celebrates the excesses and cliches of rap videos. The expletive-filled original aired as a digital sketch on Saturday Night Live and went platinum in 2009. For it’s 10th anniversary, we’ve arranged a choral version of the “all ages” version written for a performance on Jimmy Fallon’s Show. Sac-ra-men-tooooooo, break out your nautical themed pashmina afghans ‘cause it’s about to go DOWN!

Goodbye from “Galavant”
Written By: Alan Menken
Arranged by: Heather Waid

As part of this critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful show, the cast and crew of musical comedy “Galavant” was just as surprised as their small but loyal fan base when they received an order for a second season (although, alas, a third never came to fruition). Set in medieval times in a Europe-esque land, this tongue-in-cheek romp with music by legendary composer Alan Menken follows heroic knight Sir Galavant in his quest to rescue his beloved (but also not exactly grateful) Magdalena from the evil King Richard who has kidnapped her to be his wife. “Goodbye” is sung by Death (with help from a myriad of other characters) in the episode “Love and Death,” shortly after Galavant is accidentally impaled with a sword by his faithful squire, Sid. We’re not planning on bidding you such a dramatic (and violent!) goodbye but will send you out on a merry note!

Empire Arts Collective is a nonprofit performing arts incubator dedicated to providing education, resources, and collaborative opportunities for performing artists in the Sacramento area. Whether you're a comedian, a poet, an actor, a dancer, a musician, a filmmaker, a burlesque dancer, an acrobat, a drag performer, or any other group or artist with a goal to share your passion with the world, we're here to help you get started and grow your craft. We believe that sharing resources and working together as an inclusive community is the best way to accomplish our goals and create beautiful, life-changing art.