Singer’s Stories

Submit your Singer’s Story!

Christina Jimenez – Alumni

Christina Jimenez

I was in the Tampa Bay Children's Chorus for 4 years (2004-2008). I joined when I was a freshman in high school because the HS choir was not challenging enough for me. I have had wonderful experiences singing with TBCC (like singing in Toronto and Carnegie Hall to name a few). I have grown as a singer through this choir. Not only did we sing songs that were challenging, but I was also surrounded by people who had the same passion for singing as I did. Thank you TBCC!

All Singer’s Stories

Melinda Chavez

This program is one of those wonderful junctures between musical training and performance on the one hand, and social outreach on the other. There is nothing more effective in terms of teaching children the joy of self-expression and the power that comes from that expression than a program such as this one.

Susan McGowan

My daughter has continually strengthened her self-image and developed trained musical skills under the direction of Dr. Averill Summer and Mrs. Barbara Woellner…
I see the staff teaching children to respect themselves and their abilities …I believe that my daughter feels good about singing because of the reflection of self she sees through Dr. Summer’s eyes…[O]ur family has had its share of challenges due to death, divorce, unemployment, and sickness. My daughter, through the generosity, vision, and commitment of the staff and board of the Chorus, has participated fully, and looks forward to future concerts and tours with the Chorus.

Denise Stepp

What probably seemed like a very small, routine choice to you made a great impact on us, and I wanted to thank you.
My daughter Madison was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder several years ago. When she was 3, she could only say less than 10 words. Her difficulty lies in finding the proper placement of her tongue, teeth, etc. to form words and sounds. She has been in speech therapy since the age of 3. Singing helps a lot (with the practice of proper mouth formation and pronunciations)

When she stepped forward to announce the songs, my heart stopped. She usually avoids situations like that, or speaks very softly. You have made a big difference in her life, and I wanted you to know.

Carl DuPont

The best part part about TBCC was being held to such a high musical standard from such a young age. The music we sang was always demanding, and we rose to the challenge because it was clear our director had faith in us.

Emily Maggio Bennett – Alumni

“I was a part of TBCC from 1993-1996 and loved every second of it! “

I loved being a part of TBCC and I appreciate the music education I received while I was there. The singing experience remains unmatched by any other group of which I have been a part before or since. My favorite experience was the European tour in 1996 and singing at the ISME convention which I think was also the summer of 1996.
Thank you for all you do to promote a quality musical education for children in the Tampa area.

Erin Gersley –TBCC Alumni


Well, I was pretty young but started off with one of the best. This choir was one of the best experiences I ever had. The travel and growth I did in this group will always be in my heart. Thank you so much for giving me the foundation I needed in order to gain the education I received.

Lauren Healey –TBCC Alumni

Lauren Healey

As a child I always had an immense love of music. My 3 years as a TBCC choir member not only substantially furthered my love of music but also allowed me multiple performance opportunities and travel experiences. I can honestly say that without my TBCC experience, I would probably not be a music major or as involved in music as I am today.

Lauren is currently a Sophomore Vocal Performance Major studying with professor Barbara Ford at Florida State University. Lauren is currently active in Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity, the FSU College of Music Board of Advisors, and the Florida State University University Singers. Lauren is also active in many other areas of her University from volunteer work to student government. Lauren currently holds Executive Board positions for Relay for Life, the American Heart Association's Heartwalk, SGA Union Board, Homecoming, and multiple others.

Anna Linder

I want to thank TBCC for its influence on my life during the 4 years (1993-1996) that I was part of the touring choir. Dr. Summer has a passion that is unmatched and I truly enjoyed my years in the Chorus making friends and of course making music. My love for languages developed out of the experiences on our European tour in the summer of 1996. We rehearsed and performed numerous pieces that summer in various languages, and that is where the combination of my love for music and lyric joined my passion to study foreign language. I recently graduated (May 2006) from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics, which is the study of human language. For many years I have been grateful to TBCC and Dr. Summer for enriching my life with unforgettable experiences and igniting a passion to pursue my loves for music, language, travel, and culture.


David was ten years old when he auditioned for the Tampa Bay Children’s Chorus. Even as a very young child, he had always enjoyed music and singing. When Dr. Summer and her staff heard him perform, they knew right away he had exceptional talent. Although this young man was enthusiastic, there were obstacles to his participation. His mother, who was disabled, had transportation difficulties. Also, being a single parent raising seven children did not leave his mother discretionary income for the TBCC tuition, uniform and other expenses. Through a generous sponsor, TBCC was able to secure scholarship funding for David so his participation was made possible.

Using his own money, David rode two city buses from Ybor City each way to TBCC rehearsals. This challenge did not daunt David’ passion – he had a perfect attendance record. David’ commitment to practicing his music and improving his choral techniques were constant – he participated in the chorus for five years, until his voice changed at age fifteen. During his active involvement with TBCC, he was selected to participate in two national honor choirs in Virginia and California, as well as on a TBCC tour of Europe. These trips were made possible by TBCC scholarship funding.

His love for musical performance continues today. David participates in TBCC alumni activities when his busy schedule allows


Quiet, shy, soft-spoken. These are all words that have, at one time or another been used to describe me. I won’t dispute the truthfulness of them, but there’s one part of my life in which I’m anything but – TBCC. I’ve come such a long way from the eight-year-old who first walked into St. Catherine’s, terrified to even audition for the conductor. I attribute the change to Dr. Summer, Mrs. Woellner, and the many other wonderful people involved with TBCC. From the time I joined the chorus I was coaxed out of my shell and taught techniques that instilled confidence and improved my abilities as a singer.
I’ve always loved music, but in TBCC, I gained a whole new appreciation for it. Our conductors have an obvious passion for music and it shows in the way they teach and talk about it. I’ve learned countless songs in nine or more languages. Every time we learn a new song we discuss what it means and what it’s about. By teaching us music they’ve taught us a universal language that we’ll use for the rest of our lives.
To me, TBCC is like a family outside my family, a home away from home. I’ve made many lasting friends. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been given responsibilities and taught leadership skills that have served me well in high school. I can’t imagine my life without TBCC. Going to rehearsals is my favorite part of Mondays and I look forward to it all day.

It’s been almost eight years since I first discovered TBCC. At the time, I had no idea the importance TBCC would play in my life, but looking back, I can see the impact it had, and continues to have, on me. Now my younger sister is also in the chorus and I can only hope that she gets as much out of participating in TBCC as I have.


When I was 7years old my grandmother spotted an ad for the Tampa Bay Children’s Choir in the paper asking for children who liked to sing. I immediately auditioned and started my journey as a young TBCC chorister. The chorus quickly became one of my favorite out-of-school activities, and I’ve enjoyed coming back year after year.
TBCC has taught me so much more than the proper way to sing. I don’t think Dr. Summer and Ms. Woellner will ever have a complete grasp of the magnitude in which they have affected my life. They are extremely talented musicians, incredible role models and true inspirations to work toward what you love to do in life. I enjoy learning from them every week, and I love the feeling of coming together as a group and singing our hearts out. TBCC has instilled in me values that will walk with me throughout my entire life. Not only have I been professionally trained in general music theory and proper mouth placement, but I have also developed and had the chance to exercise skills such as leadership, encouragement, teamwork, respect, discipline, and stage presence.

Overall, the Tampa Bay Children’s Choir has been a huge part of my life and remains something I automatically associate with my childhood and growing up. I’ve seen the program evolve through my 11 years of participating and I can only hope that the program will continue to thrive for hundreds of children to come.

Christina Jimenez – Alumni

Christina Jimenez

I was in the Tampa Bay Children's Chorus for 4 years (2004-2008). I joined when I was a freshman in high school because the HS choir was not challenging enough for me. I have had wonderful experiences singing with TBCC (like singing in Toronto and Carnegie Hall to name a few). I have grown as a singer through this choir. Not only did we sing songs that were challenging, but I was also surrounded by people who had the same passion for singing as I did. Thank you TBCC!