Milnes VOICE Programs Expand to Pooler
Milnes VOICE Programs Expand to Pooler
Inaugural Event Set for August 2023 at Mighty Eighth Museum
It’s amazing how magic can happen when you mix singers and salt makers together. You simply combine the two and a masterpiece is created. This is exactly what occurred when two couples from two communities merged through a serendipitous meeting.
In 2011, world-renowned baritone Sherrill Milnes and his wife, soprano star Maria Zouves, were setting the stage in Savannah with the creation of the Milnes VOICE Programs, a cultural project that would help thousands of singers find their career path through educational programs and workshops.
Meanwhile, just miles away in Pooler, Ga., Dave and Carol Legasse were incubating The Salt Table, an award-winning specialty food company of salts, spice blends, sugars, teas, dip mixes, and other specialty food products.
“I was the president of a Rotary Club in Savannah that year and we had just started our Salt Table Company,” Dave Legasse explains. “Maria Zouves came and gave this presentation about VOICE. She was vivacious, had a great sense of humor and was such a high-energy person. She sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz and I was so moved by her performance, right there on the spot, our company became their very first corporate sponsor.”
A Vision for Cultural Enrichment
Over the years, the four have formed an enduring friendship, and their desire to bring cultural growth to the community of Pooler and surrounding areas has flourished. They’ve brought events to Savannah Quarters Country Club, but still had a desire to expand the reach and impact.
“There are so many positive things happening in West Chatham County due to the explosive growth in Pooler,” says Dave.
Pooler’s population is hovering at 27,000 and—since 2000—it has grown faster than 97% of similarly sized cities. However, Dave knows there can be a downside to quick growth as well.
“There’s congestion and Pooler as we have known it as a rural area is now quickly turning suburban. This can be unsettling, but our belief is if you’re going to have this type of growth, you need to make sure a better quality of life comes with it,” he says.
That’s where the Legasse couple is investing their time to inject a cultural component to the community. “We need to plan ahead for cultural events, venues that can support those events, sporting areas and green places and spaces where people can breathe fresh air. This will ensure Pooler remains a high-quality place to live.”
The Savannah’s VOICE Programs
As the couples continued to explore opportunities, they hatched a great idea. The Savannah’s VOICE Programs, which is known as the Savannah VOICE Festival, would become the starting signature milestone.
This year it will expand to Pooler for the first time during its two-week festival, held Aug. 6 - 20, 2023. As usual, it will be hosted in various venues around Savannah, but a phenomenal event at the The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force will be added to the lineup.
A Vision for the Mighty Eighth
Maria Zouves has a vision for the event. “The Mighty Eighth is an epic space so we’re going to use that venue as the set to pay homage, celebrate and honor a timeframe in American history that was so special from the American Songbook perspective,” says Zouves.
What will happen that evening is a synergistic relationship that translates to everyone in the room. As concert participants sit among and below the five static aircrafts in the gallery, they will go on a sentimental journey back in time to the Swing and Big Band and Broadway music of the 30s, 40s and 50s. The Elite Party Band’s musical instruments will swirl through the room and be joined with classically trained singers.
“This music will evoke a feeling about being an American, about Americana that has permeated our stages, movie industry, commercials and popular culture for decades,” Zouves explains.
But she notes that none of this would have been possible without the Legasse’s commitment to inspired living. “As the front man, Dave has boundless energy and is always looking for the next way to impact growth, change and connectivity. With an accounting background, Carol’s the driving quiet force working behind the scenes making things happen,” she adds.
“Dave and Carol make a great team and are creating a significant footprint on the future of Pooler,” says Zouves.
For more information about purchasing tickets to the Savannah VOICE Festival or to become a community donor to the Milnes VOICE Programs, visit savannahvoicefestival.org.
The VOICExperience Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to pass on the traditions of great singing and develop new audiences for opera. Since 2001, VOICExperience has helped thousands of singers find their career path through educational programs and workshops, where emerging artists work with the best names in opera, musical theatre and song. Under the umbrella of The Sherrill Milnes VOICE Programs, VOICExperience continues its dedication to the quality, integrity and perpetuation of the vocal arts through life-changing intensives, performances, and community enriching outreach events in New York, Georgia (with the Savannah VOICE Festival), Florida and Illinois. The VOICE Programs (Savannah VOICE Festival and VOICExperience) are committed to welcoming all, serving artists and patrons locally and globally as the organizations embrace the ideals of a diverse community.