Jay Gilliam on The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC’s ‘The Way We Were’ at Atlas on 2/12 & 13

Jay Gilliam tells us about the upcoming performances of The Way We Were at The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC at Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Lang Theatre this Friday, February 12th at 8 PM and this Saturday on February 13th at 5 PM (ASL) and 8 PM.

Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell us ow long have you been in GMCW, and in the Rock Creek Singers  and Potomac Fever.

Jay Gilliam. Photo courtesy of GMCW.

Jay Gilliam. Photo courtesy of GMCW.

Jay: I have been singing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington since 2007 and serve as Vice President of Membership for the chorus. From 2007-2008, I was part of the Rock Creek Singers and joined Potomac Fever in 2013.

What are some of your favorite memories of the performances you have been part of?

Potomac Fever has had the chance to sing a number of times at the White House and Vice President’s residence, so anytime we get to perform in those spaces, it’s special. In fact, our last White House performance was the same day as the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality–we were singing that morning when the news broke! We wanted to join our chorus family who were singing on the steps of the Supreme Court to celebrate, so we left the White House to go there. Of course, the White House was very understanding and encouraging of us leaving early. Being in the center of history happening by singing our songs of equality was very special. And being able to say to the White House, “Thank you for letting us be here, but we have to leave early because there’s somewhere more important and historic we need to be” is something I will never forget (and probably never be able to say again)!

What will audiences be seeing and hearing when they attend The Way We Were?

Audiences can expect to hear songs that really showcase where Potomac Fever has been in vocal style and song selection and where we continue to move. While we will always be a close harmony a cappella group, I think audiences will be surprised to see how varied we can sing within that range, from the addition of vocal percussion to the lush chords of Stephen Sondheim to the intense and intentional discords of Imogen Heap. It’s a great way to showcase the evolving talent and range of our singers.

If you have any solos, tell us about them and/or what the songs in this program mean to you.

While I don’t have a solo in this performance, I’m excited that Potomac Fever is debuting an arrangement by my fellow member and boyfriend Kevin Sweitzer: Pentatonix’s “Run to You.” The song really highlights the best of Potomac Fever’s talent through member arrangements and our ensemble sound in a contemporary song. The song also pays great homage to the world-famous a cappella group Pentatonix, arranging their mixed song to fit all male voices.

Potomac Fever. Photo by Emily Chastain.

Potomac Fever. Photo by Emily Chastain.

What has been the most fun so far in rehearsal?

Potomac Fever has a lot of fun in our rehearsals. Some of the most memorable moments is when all of us are really hitting our stride and creating the sound we all imagined in our head we could–and at those moments we outwardly show it! It usually manifests in one of us jumping up and down or flailing his arms in excitement. To those on the outside, it might look like one of us is having a seizure or getting possessed; for us, we know we’re in perfect sync with each other because we’re singing, listening, breathing, and creating beautiful music. And we usually can’t contain ourselves when that happens!

What themes run through this evening of songs?

Love is a big theme in Potomac Fever’s songs for this show. But it’s not just about the excitement of being in love; it’s also about the joys and losses of love, the ups and downs of giving yourself whole-heartedly to someone. The audience will hear songs about what it’s like to fall in love, be angry, break-up with, and even lose that special someone.

The Rock Creek Singers. Photo by Emily Chastain.

The Rock Creek Singers. Photo by Emily Chastain.

What have been the most positive changes in your life from’ the way you were’ to now-‘the way you are’?

Since college, I have been active in the LGBT community, lifting my (regular speaking) voice for LGBT equality, yet with joining the chorus, I have found a way to lift my lyrical voice for LGBT equality too. It’s been great to combine my voices in the march for equality and reach new audiences, from residents in rural Virginia to LGBT youth to guests at the White House to the citizens of Cuba. All of these experiences have enriched my life–and hopefully, impacted people through our artistry.

What do you want the audience to take with them after seeing you and your fellow singers perform in The Way We Were?

I hope that after seeing us, the audience is able to see not only how much Potomac Fever has changed and evolved but also how the chorus and our LGBT community has evolved as well. Our community has seen so much change and progress in the last few years, that for us in the chorus, old songs sung can take on new meanings and new ones that we never imagined singing can now be sung.


The Way We Were plays on Friday, February 12, 2016 at 8 PM and on Saturday, February 13, 2016 at 5 PM (ASL performance) and 8 PM at Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Lang Theatre -1333 H Street, NE, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them at the door or online.

Jarrod Bennett on The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC’s ‘The Way We Were’ at Atlas on 2/12 & 13.

Tim Gillham on The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC’s ‘The Way We Were’ at Atlas on 2/12 & 13.

Jay Gilliam on The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC’s ‘The Way We Were’ at Atlas on 2/12 & 13.

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