Untapped talent takes center stage at YorVoice

Cultural Alliance of York County presents the YorVoice competition on Saturday at the Strand-Capitol


YorVoice competitionKelley Gibson was starting to notice a pattern.

Whenever someone talked about the arts in York County, people brought up their sibling, child, spouse or friend who might sing, play an instrument or display their talents through the colors on a canvas.

As the director of communications and engagement for the Cultural Alliance of York County, Gibson saw an opportunity to tap into the talents of the community as a way to highlight and support the arts.

The YorVoice competition at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center in downtown York on Saturday, March 28 will feature 13 teams of musicians battling it out in an effort to showcase local talent, while raising money for the Cultural Alliance. A panel of judges includes DaNica Shirey, a local celebrity who competed on last year’s season of “The Voice.”

Many of the competing teams, whether members of a band or a singing group, are employees of the Cultural Alliance’s corporate sponsors.

“While these companies have been great supporters of the alliance, a lot of the people who work there don’t know us,” Gibson says. “In some ways, YorVoice is introducing us to each other for the first time.”

The mission of the Cultural Alliance has been to raise money and give it to eight partner organizations, including the York Symphony Orchestra, the Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center, the York County Heritage Trust and the York Art Association. The more than $7 million that has been raised in the past 15 years helps to cut down on basic costs such as office supplies, utilities and bottom-line expenses, Gibson said.

“Most people don’t want to give money to help keep the lights on,” she says. “They want to donate to the big initiatives. And while those are good, we have to make sure these organizations can operate day to day.”

While the alliance largely has worked behind the scenes, this year’s campaign has been more about educating the community on what the alliance does – and doing that means getting out there, Gibson said.

For Harrisburg native Carissa Cheshire, a group products administrator in the specialty benefits division of Glatfelter Insurance, YorVoice gave her the opportunity to give back to the community. She’s a member of The Rossums, along with her sisters, Ciara Rossum, Corrinne Rossum and Casey Rossum. The gospel group is known for becoming semifinalists on the 2010 season of “America’s Got Talent” and making it to the Top 100 of the 2012 season of “The X-Factor.”

But performing close to home is what the sisters prefer, Cheshire says.

The Rossums

The Rossums will compete at YorVoice on March 28. (Press photo)

“The arts help the whole community thrive,” she says. “It gives youth the opportunity to have an outlet, and it’s a great thing to support. When you take away the arts, especially as some schools have started doing, you take away the opportunity to express yourself. And it’s a sad world when we forget what that kind of expression feels like.”

Participating in YorVoice is also an opportunity for people to brush up on their musical talent. Karla Heberlig, an executive assistant at Glatfelter paper company, used to perform the national anthem at sporting events and sing at weddings. Today, her biggest fan is her 8-month-old daughter.

But Heberlig will have a chance to stretch out her vocal cords and perform with Paperheart, a five-member band made up of Glatfelter employees from various departments, including sales and marketing, human resources, IT and finance. Members include Heberlig on vocals, George Gregg on guitar and vocals, Bill Lanphier on drums, Matt Douglass on guitar and Tim Hess on bass.

While this is the first time the group will perform together, many members dabble in the arts outside of the office. Lanphier is a member of 3 Dollar Suit, Douglass is a member of The Old Part of Town out of Maryland and Gregg plays live at venues in Lancaster and Chester counties.

“A friendly singing competition is accessible and popular, and it’s also ‘on-mission’ for the cultural alliance,” Heberlig said. “It’s a great idea, and we are happy to participate and support The Cultural Alliance of York County.”

In addition to YorVoice, the alliance has been rolling out new events to build on its campaign, which ends March 31.

Earlier this year, the alliance launched its Dinner pARTies as a way to meet donors in a more intimate setting. The parties cater to groups of about 30 and are hosted at various locations, including the York County Heritage Trust.

“When we hosted the dinner at the trust we were really surprised to learn most guests had never been there before,” Gibson said. “Through these events we found we could make connections that hadn’t existed before.”

Even the meal was based on a theme – following the historical murals of Lewis Miller. As people ate, they could view the work connected to their dishes, Gibson said.

Also growing this year will be the alliance’s Impact Arts and Culture Conference hosted at York College. Last year the program was just one day, but this year it will encompass three days – June 25 to 27 – of discussion and lectures on art in the community, whether it’s related to health care, the aging population or education. On the final day of the conference, about 20 downtown locations will host documentaries, lectures, workshops, yoga and numerous other activities that focus on making York a better place.

It’s all part of a continued growth Gibson sees happening in York County, she said. There are new businesses, new partnerships and a growing need to meet the demands of the community.

When Gibson first moved to York County from New Jersey in 1997, people always talked about the way York used to be, she said.

Today, she said, people talk about what York can be.

“I’m just amazed and blown away by this little city,” Gibson said. “I have fallen madly in love with its charm and the inspiration that comes from being here. It’s such a beautiful time right now.”


See local talent shine at YorVoice at the Strand-Capitol (50 N. George St., York) on Saturday, March 18. 7:30pm. $20/$50 VIP. Click here for tickets.


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Posted in Music – York, Music Features

Rebecca Hanlon is a freelance journalist covering Central Pennsylvania and beyond. A Lancaster County native, she now lives across the river in York County with her husband, Will, and their squirrel-sized dog, Tito. If you don't see her typing at the laptop, she can usually be found creating recipes in the kitchen or binge watching junk TV. She likes good bourbon, palm trees and snacks.

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