While their peers were sleeping early Friday morning, the members of the Women’s World Music Choir boarded a bus and headed to the statewide conference of the Indiana Music Educators Association (IMEA) in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The women’s choir performed six songs at the annual IMEA conference opening session in front of several hundred music educators, a great honor and a first for the choir. Their opening song, a First Nation piece called “Strong Women Song,” left the audience speechless.

“[That song] has a lot of chest voice and a lot of power,” said Debra Brubaker, music professor and choir director. “The sound just blows you away. The audience was silent–they didn’t even know how to respond.”

Five songs later, the mini-concert concluded with a standing ovation from the audience. Several listeners–including the president of IMEA–approached Brubaker with words of appreciation after the performance.

“We kept hearing from people, ‘I don’t hear this kind of music’ and ‘I want to start a women’s choir,” Brubaker said. “There was a real buzz about Goshen College.”

Added Emily Hedrick, a senior choir member, “It was great to perform for music educators because we had an audience that understood what we were trying to do and could appreciate it on a deeper level.”

After the morning concert, the choir ate brunch and sang “Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie” at Spyro’s Pancake House, a Greek restaurant in Fort Wayne. “We just asked, ‘Can we sing for you?'” Brubaker said. The Spyro’s employees and patrons enjoyed the impromptu performance so much that they later posted a video of it online.

That afternoon, the choir gave a second extended performance at the First Presbyterian Church located down the street from the conference center. Again, the audience response was enthusiastic.

“There was one person in particular who said to me, ‘That was so good! I just wanted to sing with you,'” said Brook Hostetter, a senior music education major.

By the time they returned to Goshen that evening, the choir was tired but thankful for the opportunity to share their music with a statewide audience.

“Getting up at five o’clock in the morning was no picnic; however, I enjoyed every exhausting moment of the trip,” said Amanda Vanderzee, a first-year choir member. “Our motto for that day was ‘we are where we are meant to be.’ And I have to say, when I was standing up on stage with my fellow women singing ‘Warrior’, each of us feeling the music make us whole and make us one, I felt in my heart that that motto was true.”