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Student Profile: Grace Stauskas

Grace Stauskas had a long way to travel before arriving at the DePaul Community Chorus. Born in Lithuania before fleeing to Germany when she was a little girl, Grace eventually immigrated to the United States with her family. She had her first major singing opportunity later in life when she joined the Lithuanian Opera Company of Chicago and is now a member of multiple choruses in the city. Grace has been singing for over three decades and has been a member of the Community Music Division almost since its inception 20 years ago.

Q: What was your first musical experience?

We lived in Germany for about 10 years and that’s where I really started my singing. We all lived in one camp and there was a man there that was a violin instructor. He would play his violin and I would sing and one day he said I had a great voice. There was a big cathedral in town (Regensburgh Cathedral) and he played while I sang. I was ten years old and it was my big debut.

Q: Were your parents musical?

No one in my family was musical except my father. He played violin and piano - all self taught. He was also a visual artist.

Q: Has you family helped in other ways then?

After I joined the Lithuanian Opera, the director told me that I should really study singing. My family, which was as that point was my mom, sister, and daughter, gave me voice lessons for my birthday. Every week they would take turns paying. So I started my career.

Q: What has been your most memorable musical experience?

Singing at Symphony Center was just unbelievable. I also sang with the Chicago Lithuanian opera twice in Lithuanian. After Lithuania declared its independence from the Soviet Union we were the first Americans to cross the border into a free Lithuania.

Q: What other groups do you sing in?

In addition to the Lithuanian Opera I’m in a chorus called Sing to Live, Live to Sing. It was a group that was formed for a friend who had breast cancer as a way to give her musical support. A lot of the people in the chorus are breast cancer survivors – I’m not – but I love being in the group. The group has been around for four years now and there’s 59 women AND men.

Q: How did you get involved with the DePaul Community Chorus?

I was looking for another chorus, something different. A friend of mine was singing here at DePaul and she said that they need good voices, so I joined. The greatest benefit was not only the musical satisfaction that the chorus gave me but also the friendships that got formed. From the beginning our small group became the summer singers and we became friends outside of singing. Now we’re able to share our lives because of singing. It’s not where you sing but who you sing with.