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Helen Irwin

 
Helen Irwin was a Charter Member of Orangeville Chorus, and sang with the Chorus until 1994, taking part in 10 contests. She sang lead and was the ultimate example of “How To Be A Great Lead”!
 
Her voice was like velvet and her most ‘famous song’ with Orangeville Chorus was “I Don’t Know Why I Love You Like I Do”. She had some solo lines and always managed to saunter into the audience from her front row spot while singing them, and grab an unsuspecting male for a few ‘dance turns around the floor’ while she sang. The song became affectionately known as “Helen’s Song”. UltraSound quartet picked it up as a selection many years later, and it is on the chorus's 20th-year video as a ‘voice-over’ for some memorial photos of Helen.
 
Helen was the first choreographer for the chorus, and worked with Heather Chilvers (now a member of Canadian Showtime Chorus) to teach those first dancing moves that were put to our music. She came from a ‘dance hall’ background, having been a singer in the ‘Big Band’ era in Toronto; performing at The Palace Pier and The Granite Club when they were in their prime as entertainment hot spots in the city! She always claimed that she taught Sammy Davis Jr. how to dance!

The dance moves Helen taught the chorus were smooth and polished, fun and lively, and always appropriately matched to the music; but somehow, no one could execute them quite like Helen!
 
 
Helen was a colourful character and had a most infectious sense of humour. Strangely enough, a lot of her funny stories were true and happened to her. She lived on a country property just out of Orangeville with her husband Russ. One time she was on the barn roof with him assisting with a repair. More materials were needed and so Russ went in to Orangeville to purchase them… except when he came down off the roof, he took the ladder down and left Helen stranded on the roof until he returned from town!
 
On another occasion, Helen purchased her weekly groceries from Zehrs (the old store where Staples now stands) and she went to her car and was unloading them into the trunk when she began to wonder why the groceries were not in bags. Why…? She had not yet paid for them and she turned around to see many of the Zehrs staff standing in the doorway laughing and waiting to see how long it would take her to realize! Obviously she had no problem with most of her jokes being ‘on her’!
 
Helen's failing health necessitated her leaving the chorus in the late 90s and she passed away a few years later after a gallant battle with Alzheimers, where her sense of humour continued to see her through.
 
Those who knew Helen and had the pleasure to share the risers with her will always remember her as a great friend and a valued chorus member whose velvet voice will continue to echo through the years as a reminder of the great talent she contributed to Orangeville Chorus.

The word best used to describe that talent is ‘smooth’… smooth singing, smooth moves! A great legacy… one that will always serve the chorus well.