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Every My Pop Choir member knows the feeling of the “choir high.” It’s that lifting of the spirits, the overall sense of well-being that comes after singing wonderful music with a compatible group.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the My Pop Choir directors experience the same mood-elevating experience after they lead a session.

Melissa Lauren, Etobicoke’s director, explains how it works for her: “It energizes me. I love hearing the voices, and the endorphins. Sometimes I’ve gone to choir with a headache, and really feeling awful, but as soon as I’m in the door I’m fine and totally energized by the end.”

Melissa’s music career is also on a high, not surprisingly given the depth of her experience.

She began with singing lessons at the age of 12 and, like many accomplished musicians, joined her school choirs. Then in high school she started working with the Toronto All Star Big Band. “I had to learn all ’30s and ’40s swing repertoire and I loved it!”

While her friends were listening to grunge bands, she was hiding the fact that she was singing Doris Day and Frank Sinatra. “It was a very weird counter-rebellion!” Melissa recalls. “My main love was old classic jazz.”

Along with her singing, Melissa pursued education in music. “I got my Masters in Musicology while working full time with people with autism. A lot of the clients were non-verbal and my thesis was how to teach music concepts to people that didn’t have comprehension skills.”

Melissa’s first album, “The Other Side” came out in 2012 and it was also that year that the opportunity to become a director with My Pop Choir came along. “It just seemed like a good fit,” she recalls.

The members of the Etobicoke group might be surprised to learn that Melissa did not have any adult choir directing experience when she started. “I heard about My Pop Choir from a friend,” she says. “They needed a new director, but I was actually a bit frightened because I hadn’t done that.”

But after shadowing then director Kent Andrews (now director/part-owner of the Vancouver groups), her confidence grew. “I really got it!”

“The Etobicoke choir has been together a long time and it’s a real community. And I love how we can work through things pretty quickly.”

When the pandemic hit in 2020, life changed for Melissa as it did for the rest of us. She decided to make a career change and went to Humber College for a post grad certificate in addictions and mental health.

Now her “day job” is making mental health and addictions assessments and intakes for Renascent, an addiction and recovery centre.

And, of course, in addition to directing for My Pop Choir, she continues to record and perform. Her second album, “Your Mess” came out in 2015 and her latest, “My Voice” in 2022. She has toured across Canada and in Europe. This summer she will appear at various shows in Ontario and Alberta. “When I am onstage performing, I love it,” she says.

Choir directing is not the only new skill that My Pop Choir has offered Melissa, as she now arranges many of its songs.

“I asked if I could try arranging in 2018,” she recalls. “It’s definitely been a learning curve. Alex [owner/director Alex Fiddes] has been so great about guiding me through it. I finally feel now that I am able to feel what works.”

Always looking for ways to improve her choir, Melissa would like to work on the blend a bit more. “And I would love for us to be able to memorize a song, get to the point where no one looks at the music and instead people look at each. It’s easier than they think!”

Melissa is clearly enthusiastic about every aspect of her many-faceted life and My Pop Choir is one of its key elements.

“I just love it!” she says with a big smile.

Keep up-to-date with Melissa at

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