Artemis Singers was the first women's singing ensemble in the U.S. to explicitly
label herself a lesbian feminist chorus, and she is dedicated to
performing music written or arranged by women and thus highlighting
historical, political, and personal events and experiences common to
women. Artemis Singers' initial meeting took place in June 1979, and the
chorus was was formally introduced December 1980 at the second annual
Chicago Gay/Lesbian Community Band and Windy City Gay Chorus concert,
"Don We Now . . . II."|
By 1982, Artemis Singers had earned the Paul R. Goldman Award from the early homophile group ONE of Chicago for outstanding contributions in the field of performing arts in Chicago. Also in 1982, Artemis Singers performed at the landmark first gathering of gay and lesbian choruses, at Lincoln Center in New York City, out of which grew today's international Gay and Lesbian Association (GALA) of Choruses. Alongside all the men's and mixed ensembles there, Artemis was the only lesbian chorus to perform, and the other groups were so supportive that Artemis received a standing ovation even before she began to sing.
Artemis has long participated in Sister Singers Network, a nationwide cooperative web of feminist choirs, singers, and musicians. In 1984, Artemis Singers participated in the first National Women's Choral Festival. In 1986 Artemis Singers hosted the 3rd festival here in Chicago, which included women's choruses from Minneapolis, Kansas City, Lansing, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Madison. In 2010, Artemis Singers hosted the 10th Sister Singers Network festival, "Our Kind of Sound" in Chicago, including choruses from as far away as Juneau, Alaska; San Diego, California; Tampa, Florida; and Boston, Massachusetts.
Over the years, Artemis has been a mainstay in Chicago’s lesbian-feminist cultural life, performing for groups such as Kinheart, Jane Addams Bookstore, Mountain Moving Coffeehouse, and for events such as the Illinois State NOW Conference, the historic "Judy Chicago Dinner Party," and memorial services for Kay Gardner, Joy Rosenblatt, and Michaeline Chvatal.
In 2003 the chorus did a concert to benefit the Lesbian Community Cancer Project (LCCP) of "Where I Live," a seven-movement oratorio about breast cancer written by Diane Benjamin. Other highlights include performing at Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park as part of Gay Games VII in 2006; showcasing the classical music work "In My Sister's Chamber" (Bloomington, Indiana, 1983); and participation in "A Show of Concern: The Heart of America Responds," a major fundraising event for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago at the Chicago Theater, hosted by Angela Lansbury (1987).
The chorus produced her first-ever recording for public sale, a 2-volume 25th-anniversary CD set, in 2005, and was inducted into the City of Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2008.