Founded in spring, 2012, by founding president Bleu Copas, and founding artistic director Christopher Hamblin, the Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus held their first performance at KnoxPride with fifteen members. The following year KGMC joined the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA), the national parent organization of LGBTQ+ Choruses, and received official 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
When, in the fall of 2013, Hamblin left Knoxville, Freddie Brabson was appointed the second artistic director of KGMC. Under his leadership the Chorus grew to almost thirty members, moved to the Bijou Theatre for concerts and began performing annually at the Rossini Festival. Brabson chose to leave the Chorus in January of 2015 and former accompanist Matthew Mimbs served as interim director while a search was held.
Dr. Alan Stevens, Associate Director of Choral Activities and Coordinator of Vocal Music Education, at East Tennessee State University, was hired as artistic director in the summer of 2015. Under his leadership the Chorus has grown steadily every season. In July of 2016, KGMC traveled to Denver, Colorado, to perform for the GALA Choruses National Festival. This event, held every four years, brings together LGBTQ+ Choruses from across the country to perform and meet. KGMC was a festival hit, and established a reputation for excellence.
In 2017 KGMC, traveled to Washington D.C., to participate in the National March for Equality, and in 2018 the Chorus embarked on a regional tour to Chattanooga, Nashville, and Kingsport, raising money for local LGBTQ+ organizations at each stop. The Chorus has collaborated with Nashville in Harmony, Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington D.C., and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. Our outreach partners include KnoxPride, Youth Prom, local Gay-Straight Alliances, and Positively Living. In 2018, the Chorus revised its mission and adopted its first vision statement, renewing our dedication to being “Voices for Equality.” KGMC advocates and fights for visibility, recognition, and equality for all persons and now includes persons of all genders, gender identities, and sexualities. The “Gay Men’s” in our name remains to honor the legacy of the gay Chorus movement that began in the 1970s and expanded rapidly as a reaction to the HIV crisis. To say the words “Gay Men’s” was an act of rebellion, and an acknowledgement that these persons were present and had a voice. The Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus continues to grow and change. We look forward to sharing more of the diversity of our amazing community though outreach and song.
They returned to Knoxville and recruited for KGMC’s first members and sought somewhere to perform. The opportunity came with the 2012 Breaking the Silence rally, where four men stood beside each other and gave the Knoxville community a taste of what was to come. From that small start, the chorus has grown each year and become one of the largest performing arts and equal rights organizations in the region.