The Playa Choir began many years ago as a small offshoot of members from the Jazz Cafe. Kathleen Hollingsworth, aka Madi, creates and directs the Playa Choir each year from scratch.
Growing each year, the Choir now attracts 70-80 regular Burners from around the world, to join, rehearse, and create vocal music together – culminating in powerful performances on Sunday. The Playa Choir provides that connection to the “Something Other” that is often overlooked at Burning Man.
The Playa Choir has famously and movingly performed a wide variety of sacred and secular choral arrangements with featured soloists – accompanied by a talented band – and attracts crowds of 200 to 300 people for the now legendary Sunrise performance at the Temple, and again later that Sunday morning for their extended service with full Band and Sound System in the hard-to-miss Dome.
The Playa Choir is notable for a wide range of colorful characters in equally colorful garb. But don’t let appearances deceive you – many are experienced and talented musicians in their own right, who rehearse hard and bond together in an incredibly short period of time. Over the years, we’ve received feedback from hundreds of Burners that hearing and seeing the Choir perform at the end of an already amazing week, is the highlight of their overall experience!
The Choir is open to all Burners, regardless of experience, and is completely non-denominational and non-religious, but entirely spiritual, rewarding and fulfilling. Our performances are the not-to-be-missed events of the entire Burn!
A Short Choir Timeline
2003 to 2013 – Madi creates and leads her beloved Choir on a 10-year Nomadic journey. Each year the Choir keeps growing, but is dependent on other camps for performance space.
2014 – Placed as an official Theme Camp for the first time by “Tofu” Pete from Playatel. The Great Storage Container Fiasco ensues; Sunday performance held at the Black Rock Cantina instead.
2015 – Playa Choir goes independent, and is placed to anchor the 6:00 Public Plaza; bought the 44’ Dome from Black Rock Cantina and built it ourselves; we finally have our own permanent home!
2016 – Formed S.A.T.B. Village with Acapplaya. Again anchored 6:00 Public Plaza; Massive Communal Shade Structure upgrades, and a lot of growing pains.
2017 – New Bus, new Sound System, and a new location on Rod’s Road; Everything clicks like clockwork; BMIR Radio broadcasts Sunday Service; a perfect Burn.
2018 – Placed again at RRR and D Street; Huge Galley complex; Videography Team; New Dome Lights (epic fail!); Amazing collaborative performance with The Sanctuary Art Car for our Sunrise Temple Service; We are again a well-oiled machine that purred perfectly.
2019- Resided this year at 6:15 and G. We started serving coffee in the morning at the Temple of Harmonics and hosting guest speakers, instructors and performances in the Dome.
2020- In March of 2020, in response to the Global lockdown, we began meeting on Sundays for “Renegade Gospel”. This was the start of a practice that would deepen the relationships of our members who usually only see one another for an intense week on Playa every year. For many of us, it was how we survived the pandemic. When Burning Man was cancelled, the choir conducted a Virtual Service Via Zoom on what would have been Burn Sunday with our greatest wish being a reunion in 2021. A Solstice service was also presented in December.
2021- With the cancellation of Burning Man for a second year, a small but dedicated core met on Playa for the “Renegade Gospel”. After the burn, we met up with more Choir Members and Accaplaya to conduct our second Virtual Service.
2022- Playa Choir returned to the Playa and again, placed in our favorite location on Rod’s Road, built the Playa Choir Dome and rocked Sunday morning in the usual Playa Choir style.