The Velvet Tones rehearse weekly on Wednesdays at 1:00 PM-2:30 PM at Grace Lutheran Church in Apple Valley, MN. There are no auditions required to join and visitors are welcome anytime during the year.
To share the joy of singing, the fellowship of others and promote performing arts throughout the community.
The Velvet Tones do not discriminate on the basis of disability. Grace Lutheran Church, the primary rehearsal venue, offers great accessibility. Grace Lutheran has adequate parking with designated handicapped spaces, a level pathway from the parking lot to the rehearsal hall with no stairs, steps, or unavoidable curbs. It has automatic doors and accessible restroom facilities.
Choir members who struggle to stand for long periods of time use stools during concerts.
The Velvet Tones were started by Judy Werner in 1998 at the former Apple Valley Senior Center. She and about a dozen others wanted to sing and she brought her keyboard to the Center and played sing-along-songs with the group. After a few months, they contacted Jan Stoven, the head of local School District 196 Adult / Continuing Education. She contacted local musician, Rich Clausen. He made some suggestions for the group and Jan listed it in the Fall Continuing Education options for the School District. The Velvet Tones name was adopted and Rich was chosen as the Director. Rehearsals were once a week from September to May in the main room of the old senior center. Judy stayed and sang for two or three years and then retired. The group began gaining new members. The School District Continuing Education and new retirees at the Senior Center became steady sources of new members. The Velvet Tones grew from about 12 singers to 20, then 30, then 40 until the group outgrew their space and moved into the back room of the old senior center. The group rehearsed there for several years until they decided to build the new senior center. During the building of the new center, rehearsals were moved to the Redwood Pool Community Center. When the new senior center was ready, the Velvet Tones rehearsed there until 2020 and the pandemic.
Apple Valley Mayor Mary Hammond-Roland was an early supporter of the Velvet Tones and saw the Velvet Tones as Musical Ambassadors of the City of Apple Valley. They were regular performers at her Community Family events.
When the pandemic hit, the Velvet Tones had to stop rehearsing and performing. However, in the late summer of 2022, a few members decided to get together and keep singing. They rehearsed outdoors at the Apple Valley Legion and put on a concert at Grace Lutheran Church in Apple Valley. They hired local musician and music teacher, Julie Berninghaus in the fall of 2022 and resumed rehearsals, this time at Grace Lutheran Church.
The Velvet Tones have benefitted from many sponsorships over the years and are now a stand-alone 501 C3 charitable organization. With the financial support of local sponsors, grants from the State of Minnesota, the Apple Valley Arts Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, the choir has become a local source for public, senior living, nursing homes, veterans organizations and school concerts. They specialize in bringing smiles to those with limited mobility.
The Velvet Tones welcome members age 55 and older. The choir sings four part (sopranos, altos, tenors, and bass) harmonies. The music selections include Broadway musicals, old standards, patriotic songs, spirituals and folk music. No auditions are required. The only requirements are a love of music and a willingness to share that passion with others.