The Willow Valley Singers & Players
Willow Valley Singers (originally Willow Valley Revival Singers) of Nibley, Utah in Cache Valley, was organized in 2004 when Bonnie and Larry Slade joined voices with their next door neighbors, Jeff and Helen Jeppsen, to form a quartet to learn 'shape note' gospel songs found in the Sacred Harp Hymnal. They began to perform for local venues and gradually added other styles of gospel songs to their repertoire and eventually more singers. Most of the singers are Nibley residents, but others have found their way into the group bringing the number to 12 singers, six men and six women. They get together on Sunday evenings to rehearse and learn their music without a piano. They perform a cappella, just as might have been done during the pioneer era.
The Willow Valley Singers have performed for the Logan Noon Concert Series, for American West Heritage Center, This is the Place State Park, Nibley Heritage Days, Logan Summerfest, with Cache Symphony Orchestra, USU Emeriti Association, and for numerous local venues including charity events and senior residences. Their music runs the gamut from gospel hymns, spirituals, folk, patriotic and sentimental songs. They have performed programs featuring music and history from the Civil War. They can perform for any occasion but particularly enjoy performing Firesides that focus on the restoration hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They love their Nibley roots, the beautiful mountains of Cache Valley, and their pioneer heritage that inspires their programming.
Willow Valley Singers are: Bonnie & Larry Slade-Nibley, Sheri Schiess- Nibley, Vonn & Linda Griggs-Nibley, Jenna Schiess Oakey-Hyrum, Jeff Jeppsen, Smithfield, Todd Slade,- Wellsville, Susan Huff,-Nibley, Leigh Hopkins- Nibley, Wes Smedley- Nibley and Shelley Waite-Nibley
Bonnie Slade, founder and artistic director of the Willow Valley Singers, has conducted choirs and adjunct voice at Utah State University, and was co-founder of Cache Children's Choir. She has performed as soprano soloist for concerts at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Abravanel Hall (Salt Lake City), LDS Assembly Hall Concert Series, Salt Lake Tabernacle, in concert halls in Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico City, and leading roles in many operas.
Willow Valley Singers specializes in a cappella hymns, gospel songs and sentimental songs from the 1800’s to modern times. From the fervent harmonies and strong rhythmic drive of the revival period, to the heartfelt music of the American spirituals, to joyful present day gospel songs, Willow Valley Singers enjoys bringing all these musical elements together.
“ We treasure our friendship, laughing and working together at our weekly rehearsals. Singing this inspirational music, and particularly the music of the Civil War period, is a unique bonding experience”, says Bonnie Slade, founder and director of the group that is made up of friends and neighbors in the Nibley and Hyrum area. The group will present some of their best loved songs plus several newer numbers, including the entertaining “You Only Need a Mustache”, a break-away piece, by Civil War composer, Stephen Foster and the original version of “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief”.
Also performing on the concert for the second year will be their companion group, The Willow Valley Players string band performing a group of Irish dances and songs featuring Larry Slade on vocals for “Danny Boy” and “Star of the County Down”.