Rock of Ages

The Prairie Fire Lady Choir is making choir cool again with music you actually want to listen to.

Prairie Fire Lady Choir isn’t here to lull you into a light doze with incomprehensible Latin hymns. This crew of cool chicks is too busy rocking out with music by the likes of TLC, Metallica and the late, great Prince at venues all around town. You’ll be sure to recognize them by their flame-inspired wardrobes: the group performs in varied shades of red, orange and yellow, inspired by their name.

“We don’t want to be this cute choir who sings cute things,” says choir member Amy Wilkerson. “We want to rock out with our voices.” Wilkerson joined the choir in its earlier days, after chemotherapy left her desperately needing something to bring her happiness. “It kind of saved my life,” she says.

The choir, based in Golden Valley, is made up of 50 to 60 strong, like-minded women from virtually every walk of life, ranging in age from 22 to 64. Wilkerson says day jobs run the gamut, from engineers, lawyers, midwives and real estate agents to a smattering of stay-at-home moms. When the group first got its start, membership was loosely extended to anyone who wanted to sing, which is what Wilkerson encountered. Since then, interest has grown so much that the choir holds auditions, limited to 40 candidates, at the beginning of each year. “I’m just very fortunate that I never had to audition, because that’s very nerve-wracking,” Wilkerson admits.

Rehearsals start in March. Performances run through the summer into early fall, when the group gets a break until the next season begins. This summer, the Prairie Fire ladies are performing at the Pride Festival in Minneapolis and at the Cedar Cultural Center as a part of a fundraiser for protestors at Standing Rock. (See  website for full performance schedule.) Wilkerson says that the best part of singing mostly a capella is that they get to travel light. “There’s no gear, just our voices,” she says. “Just show us where to put our purses and where to put on our lipstick.”