Maria Ellis | St. Louis Public Radio

Maria Ellis

Maria Ellis leads a rehearsal on Jan. 22 in UMSL's Music Building.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Growing up in north St. Louis County, where she was leading choirs by the time she was 12 years old, Maria Ellis remembers thinking about St. Louis Children’s Choirs as “the ultimate vocal group.” But as her alma mater, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, notes in a recent UMSL Daily story about Ellis’ journey, Ellis couldn’t afford to join the SLCC program as a child.

She did participate in one of the organization’s community honor choirs, and now she’s come full circle, having landed a position as SLCC’s community engagement manager several years ago. But shortly after starting that job, she realized the north St. Louis County honor choir she’d so enjoyed as a child was no more. Now, in 2020, it’s coming back, thanks to Ellis.

Dozens of children in grades three through six are now gathering for regular rehearsals on UMSL’s campus — a place that was pivotal for Ellis’ own musical journey.