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Clarsa McElhaney

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Biography

Clarsa’s grandmother produced musical theater, gave piano lessons, and played church organ. Her four daughters grew up singing barbershop harmony.

Clarsa’s mother, Joy, filled our home with the folk/rock harmonies of Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Beatles. She sang in the car and around the house, and her children also learned to harmonize early.

Clarsa credits her three years training and performing with Duaine Wolfe and the Colorado Children’s Chorale not only for a deeper understanding of harmony and diverse types of music, but for coming to know music as a discipline, and a way to serve her community.

Clarsa performed musical theater in college and community productions. As Lady Coral de Chauncey, Clarsa was a popular bard in the SCA Kingdom of Caid, where Clarsa met Brad Banyan. He taught her solo vocal and guitar performance, and encouraged her to put both playfulness and honesty into Clarsa’s music.

Clarsa had two children by the age of 23. Her son is severely autistic, with painfully hyper-sensitive hearing. Dedicating herself to his needs, Clarsa found tremendous strength and insight, but made her home a nest of silence rather than the joyous, expansive, musical celebration in which she herself had been raised.

As Joy had done for her, Clarsa made it a priority to provide music for Clarsa’s daughter, Tanith. Tanith participated in the Colorado Children’s Chorale for seven years, away from the isolation and quiet her brother needed. That fire Tanith inherited for music kept the spark alive in Clarsa.

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