Detroit homeless choir changes lives, may perform for Obama - New York News

Detroit homeless choir changes lives, may perform for Obama

Posted: Updated:

By Taryn Asher
Fox 2 News


DETROIT (WJBK) -- A group of homeless men and women find they have a collective voice that can help them overcome hardship.  They're part of a choir that's bringing new hope and beautiful music to others.

They were living from pillar to post just trying to survive day to day, but now a group of homeless people say their lives have changed thanks to the power of song.

They're called The Homeless Choir because they are.

"Right now I'm just living from house to house, friends to friends," said David Barrios.

"I was a mess.  When I say that, literally was a mess because all I've known is the streets, drugs," said Ralph Duncans.

"My previous husband died of cancer," said Bertha Dotson.  "I didn't have enough money to make it on my own."

Like thousands of others in Detroit, they are forced to live on the streets -- shelters,  abandoned houses, churches, wherever they can stay warm during the cold winter nights.  But now during the day they have somewhere to go, The Voices of Hope Center on Michigan Avenue on the city's southwest side, a building donated after Jake Salazar, Junior came up with a unique idea.

"I was sitting at McDonald's one day trying to think about how to do this and it hit me to just teach the choir how to sing," he said.

Salazar and Cynthia Gonzales recruited homeless people to form a choir.  They perform at different venues that raises money to feed those in need, help run the center and eventually a place for them to live.

"You couldn't tell they're homeless.  Everybody's having a good time.  Rehearsal's at one o'clock, they're here at ten in the morning waiting to start rehearsing," said Salazar.

"I've got a new family now, these people right here," Barrios remarked.

He says he now has a sense of purpose, and after nearly 30 years in and out of jail and on the streets, Duncans cleaned up his life.  He's off drugs, helping out at the center and because of the money raised by the choir, he has his first apartment at 70 years old.

"It's a feeling that's hard to explain when you can walk and people look at you with respect, and it's something I never tried to get or even wanted because I didn't care," Duncans said.

Singing in this choir changed Dotson's life.

"I am now married.  I am now the director of this choir, and I am going to sing for the president.  So it's a blessing," she said.

From the streets of Detroit to the Nation's Capital, the choir is trying to raise money for their trip.  They've been asked to perform at several inauguration events and there's a chance they could perform for the president himself -- a once in a lifetime opportunity none of them ever imagined.

"We need money for the gas.  We need money to feed them.  We've been blessed with a bus, and we just need to get the money to get us there and back," said Gonzales.

"For us, it's about spreading the word out about the homeless issue in Detroit and what the homeless people have done for themselves and are doing for others to come up with a solution," said Salazar.

"It would be the greatest feeling in the world to be able to sing for the president," said Duncans.  "I know that I've changed.  My life is better than what it was."

Besides gas money for the trip to D.C., they are trying to raise money to buy a van so they can make it to the different venues where they are paid to perform and to make it to New York.  They tell me Sony Music is interested in recording their songs for a CD they can sell to also make money.

Donations can be dropped off at The Voices of Hope Center at 5900 Michigan Avenue in Detroit.  You can also contact them by calling (313) 995-2451 or visit them on their Facebook page.

  • Taryn AsherTaryn AsherMore>>

  • Man accused of calling taxi to move a body

    Man accused of calling taxi to move a body

    Monday, July 28 2014 10:20 PM EDT2014-07-29 02:20:50 GMT
    A mother is struggling with the fact that her 21-year-old daughter lost her battle with drug addiction, and then she learns the despicable lengths two people went to get rid of her child's body.
    A mother is struggling with the fact that her 21-year-old daughter lost her battle with drug addiction, and then she learns the despicable lengths two people went to get rid of her child's body.
  • Renisha McBride's family leaves courtroom as photos are shown

    Renisha McBride's family leaves courtroom as photos are shown

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:29 PM EDT2014-07-24 22:29:16 GMT
    On day two of the trial for Renisha McBride's shooting death, the final hours of her life and the moments after her death were detailed in court. Thursday the jury heard what Ted Wafer, her accused killer, told police about the shooting that night.  
    On day two of the trial for Renisha McBride's shooting death, the final hours of her life and the moments after her death were detailed in court. Thursday the jury heard what Ted Wafer, her accused killer, told police about the shooting that night.  

  • 1 dead when car crashes into house after driver, passenger shot

    1 dead when car crashes into house after driver, passenger shot

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 10:30 PM EDT2014-07-24 02:30:13 GMT
    One person is dead and another is injured after a shooting on Detroit's west side. The two victims were riding in the same vehicle, which lost control and crashed into the side of a house after the shooting.
    One person is dead and another is injured after a shooting on Detroit's west side. The two victims were riding in the same vehicle, which lost control and crashed into the side of a house after the shooting.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Aire Ancient Baths

    A relaxing bathhouse in busy Tribeca

    A relaxing bathhouse in busy Tribeca

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:29 PM EDT2014-07-30 02:29:51 GMT
    Deep beneath the hustle and bustle of Tribeca lies a modern-day oasis brimming with old world charm: Aire Ancient Baths, my new favorite city escape. The breathtaking spa is illuminated by hundreds of candles and smells of invigorating eucalyptus. For around $80 you can bathe in the tranquil blue pools for 90 minutes and find the temperature that's right for you.
    Deep beneath the hustle and bustle of Tribeca lies a modern-day oasis brimming with old world charm: Aire Ancient Baths, my new favorite city escape. The breathtaking spa is illuminated by hundreds of candles and smells of invigorating eucalyptus. For around $80 you can bathe in the tranquil blue pools for 90 minutes and find the temperature that's right for you.
  • NYC stores with no signs feed curiosity

    NYC stores with no signs feed curiosity

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 8:40 PM EDT2014-07-30 00:40:09 GMT
    From coffee shops in Brooklyn to restaurants in Manhattan, we find speakeasies standing out by blending in. When people in Bushwick want a green machine juice blend they visit Leticia Castillo's Owl Juice Pub. But first they must find the owl. "We been doing fine without a sign," Castillo says.
    From coffee shops in Brooklyn to restaurants in Manhattan, we find speakeasies standing out by blending in. When people in Bushwick want a green machine juice blend they visit Leticia Castillo's Owl Juice Pub. But first they must find the owl. "We been doing fine without a sign," Castillo says.
  • NY brothers invent machine that makes CPR easier

    NY brothers invent machine that makes CPR easier

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 6:40 PM EDT2014-07-29 22:40:57 GMT
    Only 10 percent of people who get CPR from a bystander actually survive. But two young men in Westchester County have now patented a device that could dramatically increase those odds and save lives. John and Chris DiCapua's sitting room in their parents' Westchester County home has had a unique guest lying around for quite a while now: a CPR dummy. What began as an idea from their time as Boy Scouts is now a device that could potentially save lives.
    Only 10 percent of people who get CPR from a bystander actually survive. But two young men in Westchester County have now patented a device that could dramatically increase those odds and save lives. John and Chris DiCapua's sitting room in their parents' Westchester County home has had a unique guest lying around for quite a while now: a CPR dummy. What began as an idea from their time as Boy Scouts is now a device that could potentially save lives.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Attorney wants investigation of city clerk over Arab-American voter suppression

    Attorney wants investigation of city clerk over Arab-American voter suppression

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:43 PM EDT2014-07-30 03:43:20 GMT
    It is the tale of two cities. one paints a picture of a meticulous Dearborn Heights city clerk, following the law and fighting for a fair election. The other a story of abuse of power, mishandled ballots and voter suppression.Fatima Abdrabboh is an attorney and Michigan's director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee the largest chapter in the country. She is calling for a full-scale investigation into claims that Walter Prusiewicz mishandled ballots from Arab-American voters fo...
    It is the tale of two cities. one paints a picture of a meticulous Dearborn Heights city clerk, following the law and fighting for a fair election. The other a story of abuse of power, mishandled ballots and voter suppression.Fatima Abdrabboh is an attorney and Michigan's director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee the largest chapter in the country. She is calling for a full-scale investigation into claims that Walter Prusiewicz mishandled ballots from Arab-American voters fo...
  • Warren grandparents upset after grandchildren see racist graffiti at park

    Warren grandparents upset after grandchildren see racist graffiti at park

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:15 PM EDT2014-07-30 03:15:40 GMT
    Tuesday afternoon Bruce and Lubertha Callaway took their grandchildren to Shaw Park in Warren when they saw something they couldn't believe.
    Tuesday afternoon Bruce and Lubertha Callaway took their grandchildren to Shaw Park in Warren when they saw something they couldn't believe.
  • 3-year-old shocked, downed power lines electrify fence

    3-year-old shocked, downed power lines electrify fence

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:51 PM EDT2014-07-30 02:51:19 GMT
    A 3-year-old boy is in the hospital after getting shocked by an electrical charge.
    A 3-year-old boy is in the hospital after getting shocked by an electrical charge.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices