VocalEssence Singers Of This Age (SOTA)

Young people from Minneapolis and Saint Paul high schools who sing, dance, write their own music, rap, and—most importantly—reflect the diversity of our community in its membership.

VocalEssence is expanding upon the work we have done for nearly three decades in providing Minneapolis and St. Paul students access to choral music. We have created a  youth choir called VocalEssence Singers Of This Age, or SOTA for short, that revolutionizes our concept of choir and seeks to reflect the diversity of our community in its membership. Through this choir, we seek to empower young people through artistic expression, champion the community building capacity of group singing, and encourage a wider circle of participation in the art form. The choir will be conducted by VocalEssence Associate Conductor G. Phillip Shoultz, III.

Funding Engine

80% of the funding for the pilot year comes from an Arts Learning Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. We need to raise the other 20% through gifts from people like you. Check out our GoFundMe page to learn more.

A Choral Arts Revolution

Rehearsals and performances include singing, movement and dancing, spoken word, acting, and composing. Teaching artists include Dessa, T. Mychael Rambo, Roxane Wallace, Niles, and others. Songs span everything from classical and popular traditions—including hip-hop, rap—and also feature original compositions by the singers. The singers in the inaugural year of the choir were the creators of its name, VocalEssence Singers Of This Age or SOTA.

Intentional Diversity

VocalEssence is being intentional about reflecting the diversity of our community in its membership. Associate Conductor G. Phillip Shoultz, III visited public high schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul extending invitations to students in music classes, school wide assemblies, and lunchrooms. He worked directly with teachers and administrators to identify students who might be a good fit for the program, and placed an intentional focus on sharing the word with students of color who are not currently participating in a music ensemble.

Free and Open to all

VocalEssence SOTA is open to all 9-12 grade students in the public schools of Minneapolis and St. Paul at no cost. After successfully completing an interview process, selected singers will receive access to free rehearsal transportation, performance uniforms, a hot meal before rehearsal, and complimentary concert tickets for two guests to The Ordway and Orchestra Hall performances.

High Profile Partnerships

VocalEssence SOTA is being embraced by many high profile partners in our community. Augsburg University to be our principal rehearsal venue. Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis and the Ordway in Saint Paul are partners for special rehearsals and performances. Discussions with Classical Minnesota Public Radio are leading to a potential strategic alliance.


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks go a legislative appropriation form the arts and cultural heritage fund.


Inspired by Young People’s Chorus of New York City