Local singers achieve 'impossible dream,' bring home gold from international a cappella competition

Local singers win gold

A Kamloops-area woman who was told she couldn’t sing as a child has earned a gold medal from the “Olympics of a cappella” after a 30-year singing career.

Deborah Swain, a library assistant at Chase secondary school, said she was able to travel to Louisville, Ken., as a member of the Vancouver-based Lions Gate Chorus for the 75th Annual Sweet Adelines International Convention and Competition.

“It was just electrifying, the power of the music itself and then when you're singing, there's 100 Women in that chorus and you're sharing not just the music but the emotion and the energy behind it,” she said.

“I wish someone, more than one person, told me when you get up on that stage, just take a moment and look around and just really give yourself a second to understand what it takes to get there.”

Swain said the COVID-19 pandemic forced the group to perform in front of virtual audiences, but said it was “powerful” to return with a live performance of Cabaret and The Impossible Dream in the competition’s semi-finals to a crowd of 6,000.

“That Impossible Dream personally spoke to me like I can't even describe, because when I was little I was told I couldn't sing,” she said.

“So to be able to be on the international stage and be part of the best chorus in the world — a huge leap.”

According to a news release from Lions Gate Chorus, the chorus was the first in Sweet Adelines history to receive a perfect score in any category from judges.

It also marked the first time the Lions Gate Chorus brought home the international gold medal in the chorus’ 69-year history.

“For me, it's probably going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Swain said.

She said she first auditioned and began singing with Lions Gate Chorus about a year ago, driving to Vancouver once or twice a week for rehearsals, extra coaching sessions and shows.

“Driving back and forth to Vancouver from here has been fairly expensive — some sacrifices in other parts of my life to be able to do it,” Swain said.

“Thankfully, I've had a couple of administrators here at my schools that have been willing to let me make it work, but so worth it to have that experience."

Swain said she was first convinced to join the group when another local singer, Sue Elder, who has been singing with the Lions Gate Chorus for six years, convinced her to jump in with both feet.

“She had been singing with our group here in Kamloops and decided that she wanted to challenge herself and join the group down in Vancouver about six years ago,” Swain said.

“One evening, we were at a singing event here in Kamloops, and she's like, ‘why don't you come with me?’”

For most of her nearly 30 year career, Swain said she’s performed with the Kamloops-based chorus Desert Sounds A Cappella+ and said the group is always looking for new singers.

“There is nothing like taking it to that level where you thought you might never get to,” Swain said.

“If there's something that you're passionate about, just go for it with all that you can.”

More Kamloops News