Anyone who has ever attended a Church function knows how essential the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir is to this movement! Whether performing on the street, stage, radio, film, video or television, our irrepressible Choir can conjure soaring harmonies lovely enough to convert even the most jaded consumer into a stop shopping true believer.
Our all-ages choir of 35 represents a diverse array of economic, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. We have a choir member from every continent except Antartica, which we're working on. We are moms and dads, activists, cyclists, worshippers, pagans, bakers, park-lovers, tech-geeks, tinkerers, campers, artists, teachers, truck drivers, gardeners, scholars, actors, nerds, athletes, executives, hairdressers, designers, angels, devils, and more.
Dragonfly is an auteur, raconteur, and provocateur; a Southern Missionary Baptist deacon’s daughter turned deaconess with The Church of Stop Shopping, an ecosex ambassador for Sprinkle+Stephens Pollination Productions
, and the official Ministress of Benevolent Madness for the US Department of Arts and Culture
. She has begun spoonfeeding the world her provocative memoirs as a regular contributor to the Red Umbrella Project’s Prose & Lore Anthology
series. A Texan-New Yorker and proud daughter of an Army combat medic/Korea/Vietnam veteran and a homemaker/domestic, Dragonfly earned a $41,000 debt for her fancy honors degree from a major public university.
Onome is the founder of Lush Tongue
, an a capella choral ensemble featuring vocal improvisation and an eclectic, globally multicultural array of music from female composers. She uses music, performance, writing and other creative expression tools for consciousness expansion, self-discovery and empowerment. She has a four-and-a-half octave range (five on a good day) and she is continually developing her mastery in voice as a practitioner, performer, teacher and coach.
Lillian sings to celebrate wetlands, prehistoric horseshoe crabs, and the great outdoors.
Jess Beck is a documentary film and television producer, director, and writer whose goal is to deliver truth to the masses. She prefers being silly to most other states of being. Singing and activism are two of her great loves, and she's thrilled to marry them in her work for the Stop Shopping Choir. Speaking of marriage...Jess just so happens to be be shacked up with one of Reverend Billy's attorneys (in her opinion, the cutest one).
James Solomon Benn
Emeritus Choir Director
I saw Reverend Billy's work chronicled on WNET Thirteen's EGG: The Arts Show. His presentation of an edgy, fun-filled parody of the black church captivated me. He provided me a way of getting in touch with my own fractured youth — my father having been a Methodist preacher. My fateful meeting with the Reverend occured the next day at the Kinko's on 54th Street. I learned first-hand about his mission and asked him how I could join his funky-purple-wig-wearing gospel choir. I was hooked. The rest is history. Having performed in and directed everything from Fats Waller to Shakespeare, the Church of Stop Shopping has allowed me to use my theatre skills to make a difference.
Regional credits include Ain't Misbehavin' at Starlight Musicals, To Kill a Mockingbird and A Midsummer Night's Dream at Indiana Repertory Theatre, Five Guys Named Moe at Charlotte Rep and She Loves Me with Nebraska Rep. James' one-person show, Lil Butchie Sings!, explores growing up fat, black and gay in the Bible belt.
A student of the writers Charles Gaines and Kurt Vonnegut, Talen has staged experimental plays, published essays and poems in Philadelphia, New York and California. At Life On the Water, a theater in San Francisco’s Fort Mason Theater, Talen presented artists such as Spalding Gray, Mabou Mines, David Cale, B. D. Wong, Holly Hughes, William Yellow Robe, the Red Eye Collective, Reno, John Trudeau, and Danny Glover reciting the works of Langston Hughes. This experience in producing led him to the confessional monologue. After studying with the cleric Reverend Sidney Lanier, Talen invented “a new kind of American preacher.” Lanier, the cousin of Tennessee Williams and subject of the work Night of the Iguana, was familiar with the re-staging of biblical narratives.
Talen moved to New York City in 1994, where the experimental preacher began his career with the other sidewalk preachers on Times Square. Specializing in exorcisms of sweatshop companies, and opposing the Disneyfication of the neighborhood, he set up his portable pulpit at the door of the Mouse. Soon, “moral soap operas,” also called “Retail Interventions” were staged inside the chain stores, principally Disney, the GAP, Nike, and Starbucks. The preacher was soon accompanied by singers, and began staging whole “Worships” in the tradition of ritual-based interactive plays of the day such as Tony and Tina's Wedding, Late-Nite Catechism, Blue Man Group and de la Guarda. The Reverend's developing theology became the “Church of Stop Shopping,” founded on a resistance to consumerism and a defense of independent shops, community gardens and local economies.
Under the direction of Savitri D, the Reverend and Choir have toured in Europe, Africa, South America and throughout North America. William Talen has won the OBIE Award, The Dramalogue Award, The Historic Districts Council's Preservation Award (for leading demonstrations to save Manhattan's Poe House) and has been jailed more than 50 times.
Soprano, Gusti Bogok, is yoga teacher, environmental activist, permaculture designer and foodie. She is passionate about social justice and ecological issues and currently co-chairs the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter’s Gas Drilling Task Force
. Gusti first met Reverend Billy at a meeting to organize a rally to stop the Spectra pipeline--which brings “fracked radon-laced gas into the New York City--an issue, which inspired the choir’s River Song and instigated a lawsuit. At a fundraising party for the Spectra suit, Billy impulsively invited Gusti onstage to sing. Not knowing the words to the songs, she resisted at first but, after a couple of beers, finally relinquished and jumped on stage to join the choir.
Sierra Carrère (a.k.a "Amazon Queen") has been singing with the Stop Shopping Choir for four years and feels so blessed to be a part of such a radical community and live in this cultural mecca we call NYC! She is so grateful to share our gospel in such a powerful, artistic and unique way! Sierra grew up in in Ithaca, NY, and has been performing since the age of 9. She is also a dancer, model, and has her own band, Sierra & the Nomads
, and is a professional Hypnotist. Changealujah!
Molly Chanoff is an acrobat living and teaching in Brooklyn. For seven years she has been hanging from her toes and diving through hoops with LAVA
, the award-winning all-female acrobat/circus/dance troupe. When she is not doing that, you can find her at Human Rights Watch, or doing capoeira, or perhaps in Brasil. She is overjoyed to be singing with the Stop Shopping Choir.
Talk to Molly HERE
Savitri is the director of Reverend Billy and The Church of Stop Shopping. She is a freedom fighter and lover of wildness. She was born in Taos, New Mexico and has lived in Brooklyn since 1996.
Ben joined the Church of Stop Shopping in 2003 to protest the illegal and unjust war in Iraq. Since then, performing with Rev. Billy and the choir has been a way for Ben to bring justice to the world through peaceful yet powerful song, ritual, and civil disobedience. From justice for coffee farmers in Ethiopia to stopping boreal forest destruction in Canada to preventing the unfair closing of Jerry's newsstand in the East Village of NYC, Ben is proud to join the bass section in channeling the earth spirits that might teach us humans how not to destroy ourselves. As founder and chief scientist of BioBus
, he is also fondly known as "Dr. Science." He has been honored as a Singer of the Month
Sarah Duncan lives what she likes to call a "patchwork life": she is a playwright, poet, performer, community arts organizer, teaching artist, intersectional feminist, proud queer woman, Buffy fan, rabid reader, and all around beautiful trouble maker. She's in love with this city, she's in love with words, she's in love with the communities she has found, and she loves, loves, loves to sing. Earthalujah!
Sarah East Johnson
Sarah East Johnson is the founder and artistic director of LAVA
, an Obie and Bessie Award-winning performance troupe that integrates dance and acrobatics into original productions characterized by physical rigor, intellectual wit and subversive politics. LAVA has performed at PS 122, Dance Theater Workshop, The Kitchen, The Flea Theater, Symphony Space, The Joyce, and the New Victory Theater and has toured around the U.S. The LAVA Studio in Prospect Heights Brooklyn offers classes for kids and adults in the unique blend of acrobatics and dance for which LAVA is known.
I joined the choir for the "Save the Poe House" campaign, have been singing and acting up with The Church of Stop Stopping Choir ever since, and is one of the great joys of my life. I have been an activist since an early age, first in Civil Rights in the 60's, working to stop the war in Viet Nahm, the Stonewall Riots and gay rights; then I got involved to help bring attention raise money and consciousness to help fight the plague of AIDS. I am also a Radical Faerie, and a member of the New York (dis) Order of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Working with Rev. Billy incorporates all of these experiences and puts it into a wonderful musical expression full of love and joy.
I am a low bass and in my work life I do architectural painting in all styles (I am best known for running borders, faux marble wood and textures made with plaster). I am also expert at wallpaper and have a good sense of what a color will look like in August and in February, so adjust for both.
Hope is where my heart is, what we do feels like I am sharing that with any one who will listen, and on many an occasion to those who do not, but they do hear it anyway. And as my hope spring is unlimited maybe even the hardest heart will be softened and maybe, just maybe, change even a bit. Changealujah, Strangealujah!
This is Amber's 9th year with the choir! Theatre: An Octoroon (Soho Rep), Natasha Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812 (Kazino and Ars Nova), The TEAM's Mission Drift (London's National Theatre, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, New York COIL, Salzburger Festspiele, Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre, Universide de Coimbra, Lisbon's Culturgest, and ArtsEmerson), The World is Round (Ripe Time), We Play for the Gods (Women's Project), All Hands (Hoi Polloi), Eager to Lose (Ars Nova), Banished Children of Eve (Irish Rep), The Octoroon (P.S.122), and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Villa La Pietra Florence, Classic Stage Company, Bandshells of NYC Parks). Regional: Williamstown, Huntington, Connecticut Rep, and Aspen Theatre Masters. TV/Film: Broken Legs (upcoming), The Burg, Law and Order: SVU, Roger the Chicken, Herkimer Dufrayne, Sissypants, The Weekend, and What Would Jesus Buy? Training: MFA NYU Graduate Acting.
Gaylen unofficially joined the choir at Burning Man 2007 after having resisted overtures from the group for nearly a year. His first performance with the choir, at the Temple built by David Best, probably is still his favorite.
Gaylen has been active in the pursuit of social justice for decades. His early work with Colorado and New Jersey punk rock bands was overtly political and satirical with a double-barreled focus on ending racism and the fur trade. More recently, he has taken on the task of improving the world's access to Human Powered Vehicles (HPV). He is the founder of BrooklynBikeCycle
, a not-very-profitable organization, with a mission to provide as many bicycles to as many people as possible in New York City and the world beyond.
He is also very involved with the Ghost Bikes
and the annual Ghost Bike Memorial Ride.
I'm Pat, retired French and ESL teacher, launching my second career as the Johnnie Appleseed of jello shots, spreading j.s. magic wherever and whenever I can. Travel, foreign language and music are three priorities in my life. I like to meet and live with people from another walk of life or geographical area, and sing with them. In an increasingly fragmented world, I feel this builds bridges. For years my only "politics" has involved working toward a greener environment and being a responsible consumer. And so I am thrilled to be a part of the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir!!! (Thank you, Jessica!)
Action Captain, Soprano
Monica, a California native born to an engineer and bilingual education activist, performs and teaches physical and street theater all over the world, including: a small Thai fishing village, a homeless shelter in India, a May Day festival in Poland, Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, international theater festivals in Scotland and Ecuador, and all throughout the boroughs -- disrupting the streets and chain stores of fabulous New York City. She has a BFA in Experimental Theater and an MA in Educational Theater from NYU, but has received her greatest street education with the Church of Stop Shopping since 2002. You can usually catch her performing her solo plays, clowning in bike lanes, or some other act of Exalted Embarassment.
A maker, do-er, designer and organizer living in New York City. I co-manage artist-built affordable studio spaces in Brooklyn and try to meet most of my material needs through the home-made. A sewing machine and good collection of power tools help. I apply the 12 principles of permaculture to my creative work. I’ve built free stores for arts materials in shipping containers, turned abandoned store-fronts into walk-in pinhole cameras, and played in a Scottish Cajun band that wrote songs about outer space. I am so happy to be part of such a vibrant and uplifting musical and activist community -- I snuck in without asking in late 2012 and never looked back.
Barbara Robin Lee
In the very early morning of March 11, 1960 at 1:07am, Barbara Robin Lee was born to a 16-year-old black teenager at Pilgrim State Mental Hospital on Long Island, NY. Barbara grew up to be a madcap, nappy-headed tomboy who read comic books and listened to Elton John. In her young adulthood, she got politicized first by campaigning for Gary Hart the first time around, and then she discovered anarchism when she became homeless and squatted in the Lower East Side. Barb has spent a lot of time in the NYC and New Jersey jails for protesting in the streets of NYC, in Tompkins Square Park, and fighting white supremacists at Giants Stadium.
Nowadays, Barbara dyes her gray hairs and still thinks she's a teenager. She loves her two cats and is a friend to all animals except for spiders, snakes, roaches and rats. She sings soprano in the choir and she thanks Rev. Billy for saving her from political apathy. Oh yeah -- when the mood hits her, she unleashes her furious talent of the written word to all whom will read and listen. Lester Bangs, Assata Shakur and Dr. Hunter S. Thompson are her heroes.
chantel cherisse lucier
antel cherisse lucier is a native of San Francisco, CA. She is of Mexican, Norweigan, and Italian descent with an entirely French name. In addition to singing, chantel creates theater and film, makes jewelry, paints, creates interdisciplinary work and photography, is a certified reflexologist at Angel Feet
, and works with the Living Theatre
and Woken'Glacier Theatre Company. She is June 2010 Singer of the Month
"Words, like other waste matter, eventually drift down the drain. Acts live on... action."
— Henry Miller
Billy and I met when he came to see a Peculiar Works Project show I was in at the Dixon Place Theatre, which at that time was located at the Vineyard 26 space. I didn't know him at the time but we talked a bit after the show and did some hamming it up, a la Southern Baptist Church. Unbeknownst to me he was not just auditioning me but creating a role, the First Lady of the Church, for me. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Rest in Peace Beloved Brother Derrick. We love you FOREVER. June 2010
Minister Erik McGregor
Peruvian, became a Minister to support same-sex marriage, avid photographer and unofficial documentarian of the SSChoir actions since 2010, co-writer of the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City that became the lyrics of the song "We Are the 99%
" Joined in November 2010, exactly one year after seeing them for the first time and saying after the show "I will join the choir someday." Baptized by fire at the doors of Macy's at 6am on Black Friday, getting trampled while fighting consumerism alongside Rev. Billy and the Choir.
Alto, Sidewalk Counsel
Shilpa Narayan joined the choir after seeing the Reverend exorcise the devil from a Starbucks coffee cup. She has since confessed, and continues to confess, her sins. She is an attorney licensed to practice law in New York State and is a dedicated defender of the First Amendment.
Singer of the Month December 2010
Laura was assigned to go on a field trip to Reverend Billy's Church by professor Stephen Duncombe in the spring of 2000. One month later at the April 16th March on D.C., the Reverend and Laura spent the day together as tourists de la Resistance, and she told him she liked to sing. Since then she has sung on hundreds of stages and into many bullhorns. Highlights include soloing after Joan Baez at Burning Man 2005 and singing a gospel rendition of the First Amendment under her breath while handcuffed at the police station with Reverend Billy. Laura is also a film director and writer. Her work, which often stars members of the choir, can be seen at irREVERENT Films
. She would like to thank Mother James Benn for giving her the juice that makes her more than a white girl with a wind pipe.
I've always hated shopping and liked singing, so this seemed like a good fit.
The first time I saw The Rev was '98 or '99. I was performing in a show and riding around box office cash on a bike for the Fringe Festival. I saw this thing with a preacher and somebody in a mouse costume and I thought, "I want to see that one!" Later as an organizer for Artists for Peace (now Artists for Humanity), I called on the Rev to open our first show. A couple years later, The Rev saw me drowning in a 'real job' and saved me from the 'no shows' blues. Thanks Rev!
Susannah Pryce holds a Cum Laude degree in performing arts and acting from Florida School of the Arts and has been studying and performing on both the east and west coasts since 1989. Highlights include Comedy Central's Upright Citizens Brigade (Season 1, Episode 107/The Lady of the Lake), east coast tours with Theatre IV, and west coast tours with B Street Theatre under the direction of Timothy Busfield. As a model in New York, Susannah has graced the cover of the Village Voice and walked the runway for Nigerian Fabrics and Fashion, Timeless Elegance, and the Rhone Alps Ski Show. As a visual artist, Susannah's work was shown in New York at ABC No Rio, Korova Milk Bar, and display at the Bedford Avenue booth of the L train in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As a vocalist, she has performed her original songs throughout New York at Tagine Dining Gallery, Stingers Lounge, and in France at the Fete de la Musique. As a musician, Susannah has played clarinet for more than 13 years, and experience performing piano and violin. As a writer, she has two completed projects: Chai Mama (now 'Chai'), a one-act play; and Diary in Disguise, a book of 300 poems. She speaks French and is a candidate for both Modern Dance/Choreography and English degrees at Long Island University. Susannah is thrilled to be a part of Reverend Billy's Stop Shopping Choir!
Andrew began singing in the womb. His second song (Sung at the age of 11 months) was the ABC's. At 13 months of age he's moved on to his own version of a song he learned from some purple thing on TV. Now at the ripe old age of 14 months he is randomly repeating "Ashes Ashes Ya Ya Yah!" Andrew is thrilled to be a part of Reverend Billy's Stop Shopping Choir!
John is a New York-based actor who works regularly Off-Broadway. He came to the Gospel Choir after being healed from credit card debt. In his youth, John was a New York City Guardian Angel who patrolled Restaurant Row and the A "Muggers Express" subway trains. He no longer dons a red beret, but sings for peace and non-violent solutions.
Nathan Stevens was born and raised in Louisville, KY, right around the time when the Empire Striked Back. He began playing the bass when he was 12, setting aside a promising future as a violist in order to "get girls" because in those days, the Suzuki Method was not as sexy as the Smashing Pumpkins. But soon enough, young Nate learned that the bass was more than just a Weapon of Attraction, but could, in some instances, replace the need for women all together.
Dawn Stewart-Lookkin is a hapa
/mixed native New Yorker. She's a writer, artist and creator of many things. She encourages you to explore her work and adventures
. She lives in her childhood neighborhood, Chelsea, with her partner, their cat-baby and numerous plant-babies. Her favorite color is yellow and she's recently discovered that she's good at baking. Her favorite ingredients include, but are not limited to, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, Goji berries and chocolate.
Born and bred in Ethiopia, transplanted to NYC, saw the Reverend taking action against Starbucks at Cooper Union, followed him since. I love this planet, and singing. I also love animals and trees.
Travis Tench is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, composer, educator, chef, grower of delicious things, and maker of beautiful things. He is the vice-president (and lead guitarist) of EcoStation:NY
, an NYC-based non-profit organization committed to environmental education and restoration, and manager of the Bushwick Farmers’ Market
. He is also co-founder and Director of Heavy Lifting of Band of Bicycles
, a pedal-powered performance and bicycle-advocacy group. He lives in Brooklyn and thinks it’s funny when animals wear hats.
David Yap was born and raised in the Bay Area, California. A dual citizen of the United States and Canada, he studied Anthropology in Montreal and then spent time travelling. Eventually, he ended up in NYC, where he kept running into this strange sounding preacher with an incredible choir. In 2012, he had the privilege of being married at Burning Man by the Reverend Billy, Savitri D., and the choir. Little did he know he was actually saying "I do" to a whole choir community. It wasn't long until he started showing up to practices and became a tenor. He is a 2013 Singer of the Month.