It’s early to think about Christmas, but Bill Davis and 140 antsy Villages singers can’t wait for the holiday.
The director of The Villages Pops Chorus hopes to lead the 140-member group back to the stage after nearly a year off due to the Coronavirus. The next concert is scheduled for Dec. 7.
“We haven’t been able to do a darn thing,” Davis said, adding there is no rehearsal or concert space. “Right now, we’re trying to keep everybody together and let them know we’re still here. I send out an email every week, and we communicate as much as possible.”
The Villages Pops Chorus has been a premier local singing group for much of the past decade. Davis said it has raised $162,000 for charity from its three annual concerts at North Lake Presbyterian Church. The last concert was scheduled for March but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the saddest parts of not doing our concerts is that we can’t raise money for charity,” Davis said. “We’re hopeful for December, but we have to wait and see how things work out with the church and the virus.”
Davis said there are three major issues to get the chorus back in gear. The first is when The Villages will allow the 140-member group to rehearse in a space. The second, he said, is concern due to the virus, “How many people will be comfortable coming back. We don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable.”
The third issue is how North Lake Presbyterian Church will allow the singers, as well as a usual sell-out audience, to participate. Most of the Pops Chorus concerts draw around 1,000 fans for two shows each day. Pops Chorus members also hold a few other smaller shows during the year.
“There are lots of questions,” Davis said. “But we’re still working together, and we’re optimistic.”
He added that he sends out songs for singers to rehearse at home.
Davis and his wife, Sue, have been part of The Villages music community since they moved here in 2014. Both have worked with local singing groups and appeared in musical shows and stage productions. Davis had been chairman of The Villages Musical Theater until leaving that role this year.
The couple has been married for over four decades, and instead of their usually hectic music schedules, they have spent the past few months keeping busy at home. They exercise, read and use their computer to communicate with their children and two young grandchildren.
Music is still a big part of their lives and has been therapeutic during the uncertainty and isolation caused by COVID-19.
“I have found if you go back to the songs you listened to all your life, they bring back a lot of happy memories,” Bill Davis said. “I’ve been listening to songs I haven’t heard in years. It’s like rediscovering a world you forgot existed.”
Among the old CDs Davis dug out of his closet include music by Blood Sweat and Tears, Maynard Ferguson, Moody Blues, The Little River Band and, of course, the Beatles.
Davis also has an affinity for the pre-rock 1950s pop groups like the Four Lads and Four Aces, and also folk music. He once appeared in a local production of “Forever Plaid” and still plays with folk groups.
Sue Davis shares much of that musical spirit and she misses being on stage with the Pops Chorus.
“I really miss being with the people because the Chorus is like a family,” said Sue Davis, a member of the singing group a cappella gold. “We are part of doing something we love (music) and raising money for charity. It’s special.”
The virus shutdown, however, has been an opportunity for the couple to spend time with each other.
“We like to cook together, take walks, golf and just enjoy life in The Villages,” Sue Davis said.
For Sue and Bill Davis, that sometimes means drinking a glass of wine on the lanai, sitting back, watching a sunset and listening to the Beatles.
And thoughts of the Pops Chorus are never far behind.
“I remember our last concert; the finale included two songs, ‘Climb Every Mountain’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone,’” Bill Davis said.
One lyric to “You’ll Never Walk Alone” goes like this: “Walk on, walk on/With hope in your heart/And you’ll never walk alone.”
Those words still apply – especially now.
“These are hard times and we’re all going through it together, but those songs and those lyrics can help us get through it,” Bill Davis said. “That’s what music can do.”