For Lauren Loo, singing has always been a communal experience, a way to bring people together. So she felt especially honored to be selected as one of the singers in a national moment of coming together during the Biden inauguration last month.
The Cherry Hill resident was one of a handful of singers who recorded backing vocals for Demi Lovato’s rendition of “Lovely Day.” Singers from across the country recorded themselves and submitted their pieces in early January without knowing if they would appear in the final piece.
Loo said she was taken aback when she saw herself on Jan. 20.
“I saw myself pop up, and I just thought, ‘Oh my gosh. This is so crazy. This is surreal,’” Loo recalled. “I felt very fortunate.”
Music has been an integral part of Loo’s life since the beginning: She comes from a musical family. Her mom is a pianist who worked with her daughter and accompanied her on singing projects as Loo grew up.
Having been raised in California, Loo was a self-described “choir nerd.”
“It’s always been my way of meeting people and making friends,” she noted. “All through school and everything .. my community was the choral
Loo explained that as much as she loves singing solos, there was something about the joint effort of chorale music and being “part of the mix” that she preferred.
“It’s such a unique experience for making music, because every single person has a role to play and it’s a community,” Loo said. “If you’re singing with other people who are also enjoying the music, it’s an emotional experience.”
Loo brought this love for choral music to the East Coast. Her family moved to Cherry Hill three years ago and she sang with the Greater South Jersey Chorus. When Loo found out about the New Jersey Boychoir, she had her two sons, Cyrus and Knight, audition.
When her sons earned their spots, she volunteered with the group before ultimately getting hired by Commonwealth Youthchoirs as program manager for the Garden State Girlchoir and the New Jersey Boychoir.
These days, the groups meet over Zoom, but the work hasn’t stopped. Loo leads rehearsals and acts as vocal coach to the young singers.
“I’m loving that I can just pour out any sort of tips and wisdom that I can to help them foster the same love for choral music that I have,” she offered.
Producers contacted Commonwealth Youthchoirs on Jan. 8 to ask if any singers ages 18 or older were interested in participating in the inauguration video. When Loo heard about the opportunity, she figured, why not give it a try? She knew there was no guarantee she’d be selected, but she was hopeful nonetheless.
“It seems like that would be the chance in a lifetime,” Loo said.
She felt fortunate to participate in such a historic moment. Inaugurations, she added, are historical events, and she’s supportive of the new administration’s message that Americans need to come together as one nation.
In her eyes, the Biden message is about community, and that’s a message Loo has spent her entire choral career getting behind.
“I think that it’s just a wonderful concept to try to work together … [to] push differences aside and create the community that this country really should be.”