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Center Singers set to stir emotions


by: ELLEN SPITALERI - Marilyn Woodruf, director of the Center Singers, leads the group through a rehearsal at the Milwaukie Center.Take a “Stroll Down Memory Lane” with the Center Singers, from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. Monday, April 19, at the Milwaukie Center.

Marilyn Woodruff, director of the group since October 2011, and the singers have put together a variety of songs aimed to make audiences laugh and even shed a tear or two.

“We always try to do songs from the era of retired older people. They say the last thing a person forgets is the memory of songs,” Woodruff said, noting that in many of the memory-care facilities people sing along and thank her for bringing back memories.

A concert is like a good movie, Woodruff said, stirring up emotions but making you feel better in the end. With that in mind, the songs she has selected for the group include the upbeat, like “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover,” to the always popular but heartbreaking “Danny Boy.”

What Woodruff likes best about working with the Center Singers is the feeling of family.

“We care about each other, and they love going out spreading sunshine. Sometimes we go to convalescent homes where people don’t get out, so the sunshine is us going to them. It is such a blessing to have this group care about people,” she said.

During the first half of the concert, the singers will be accompanied by pianist Ruby Fandrich and drummer Leo Browne. Songs include “Play a Simple Melody,” “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “Dream a Little Dream of Me.”

Then the singers give Fandrich and Browne a break and move into songs accompanied by other instruments such as a guitar, fiddle or harmonica. The second half includes a mix of slow and fast numbers, including “The Tennessee Waltz,” “You Are My Sunshine” and “Rocky Top.”

The concert concludes with a stirring rendition of “This is My Country,” honoring the 10 veterans in the choir, Woodruff said.

When she took over the choir, there were only about 15 members who didn’t even know one another’s names. Now there are 50 members, and Woodruff said members often arrive at rehearsals early in order to socialize.

All are welcome to attend the concert on Monday. The Milwaukie Center is at 5440 S.E. Kellogg Creek Drive. Call 503-653-8100 for more information.