DALLAS -- Ask about the rich history of Dallas’ Turtle Creek, and you’ll hear dozens of names - all incredible talents - with a powerful voice forever silenced.
HIV/AIDS is an inescapable part of the Turtle Creek Chorale’s history.
“We’ve lost approximately 190 men, primarily due to the HIV virus,” said Kevin Hodges, current president of the chorale.
For members of more than 20 years, the worst days still don’t feel that far away.
“It was not unusual some weeks to sing one or two funerals,” Hodges said.
“We didn’t know we were going to become such an important group for grieving, and sticking together, and sharing, and moving through the grief stages that we did,” said Michael Sullivan, one of the chorale’s founding members.
The Turtle Creek Chorale was a safe space at a time when they were harder to find.
“We came together and we had one thing in common -- it was the music," Hodges said. "The music was very healing."
Much has changed over the years.
The disease is no longer the death sentence it was. And the chorale has new faces with a different experience.
“I don’t think our younger members understand how important the choir was as a group of brothers banded together to see each through life and death," Sullivan said. "Because they don’t face death like we did in the 90’s."
In Dallas County, the number of people newly-diagnosed with HIV is down, but the number of people living here with the disease is up.
For the chorale and the arts community at large, there is a desire to remind and remember, even if AIDS is not often front page news, and they’ll do it through performance.
Charles Santos is producing "A Gathering," a one-night-only show, Monday Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. It will feature close to a dozen local arts agencies, and the proceeds will go to four Dallas AIDS service organizations.
“It has fallen out of favor, talking about HIV/AIDS, and yet, it's still on the rise," Santos said. "It's still a major problem."
He’s invited the Turtle Creek Chorale to be a part of it.
For the chorale, it’s a chance to celebrate the people who helped them get here; who would have loved to see them now.
“We sing because they sang,” Hodges said. “We learned so much from them, and so because people fought before us, helped us be who we are today, and gave us a voice, we became their voice.”
And you can hear those former members in each note. From each heart.