Some huge names have taken the stage this summer at the Oregon Zoo concert series. Buddy Guy recently played and Sunday night local powerhouse Pink Martini headlined the event.
But before they took the stage, some say their opening act stole the show. It was the biggest crowd yet for Portland group PHAME and they had the crowd clapping and singing along to every song.
PHAME used to be an acronym for Pacific Handicap Artists, Musicians and Entertainers.
But the "H" now stands for "honored," which may be more accurate.
"Music just has this universal resonance," said Executive Director Stephen Marc Beaudoin, "so we see people at PHAME with savant-like capabilities."
"I love to sing," said member Lea Mulligan. "I sing every day and I think it's great for the community and for people."
All of the singers have some sort of developmental disability like autism, cerebral palsy or down syndrome. However, in front of a crowd of nearly 4,000 people, you just notice the one thing they don't have: fear.
"It is inspires us to know there are people out there who want to see us," said member Anne Marie Plass.
The group has been around since the 1980s. Most of the members also act and take creative writing classes, but this year the choir touring schedule has been intense, taking the group across Oregon. Their work culminated Sunday when they opened for Pink Martini at the Oregon Zoo.
"It's remarkable," Beaudoin said. "Not because they struggle with disabilities, but because the quality of work is that good."
"They have said I have a wonderful voice and they say I do a really good job," Plass said, "and part of that is thanks to the teachers. They do a great job coaching us."
While the zoo was their biggest concert yet, members say they can't predict where they will go from here.
"The possibilities are endless," Plass said.
Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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