Side by Side Singers

The Side by Side choir is a Choir for anyone in our community living with memory loss and their caregivers to come and sing songs that everyone enjoys singing and can have fun with familiar songs with their loved ones. Often times there is no activity loved ones can enjoy together other than going out to eat. This choir gives caregivers and loved ones ways to build happy memories and be in fellowship with a loving community. You do not have to know how to sing; we want you to come and make a joyful noise!

In the fall of 2015 Daphne Johnson approached Jack Horner with the idea of forming a choir for the Respite program participants. The idea came from videos of groups in Minnesota and Wales. Since these folks would be singing “side by side”, the name of the group became the Side by Side Singers. The group meets for an hour each week. At this time they are able to pull out of their memories songs that have been a part of their lives. Studies have shown that music lives in a part of the brain that is not touched by Alzheimer’s disease until the final stages.

Singing is good for everyone; special things happen when we sing together. You can see this happening whenever these good folks get together.

Jack Horner, Director
Mr. Horner completed the Bachelor of Music Education degree and the Master of Music degree in Piano Performance at the University of Mississippi. He taught college piano for 8 years before starting a 34 year career in full time church music, serving churches in Tennessee and Alabama. He was the director of music at First United Methodist Church, Montgomery, AL for 20 of those years. He retired in July, 2015. He is married to Gayle Murrah Horner. Between them they have 5 children and 12 grandchildren.

Mickey McInnish, Accompanist
Mickey began his music career at the age of 5 when he started taking piano lessons. His mother taught him until he was in the 7th grade. He started taking organ lessons at age 9, but once he started Junior High, his parents decided to give him organ and piano lessons every Saturday at Huntingdon College where he was taught by Harald Rohlig. He enrolled his Freshman year at Huntingdon and then transferred to Auburn where he was the organist for 3 years with the First Baptist Church.

After Auburn, Mickey went to Southern Seminary on a professors scholarship where he earned his Masters Degree in church music with an emphasis in organ, conducting and composition. Upon completion of this coursework, he was a Minister of Music at Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Southside Baptist in Birmingham, and Fifth Avenue Baptist in St. Petersburg, Florida.

In 1979 he started law school and played the organ for Morningview Baptist here in Montgomery for 9 years. He then started the music program for the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Montgomery before becoming a member of FUMC. He has been the substitute organist at FUMC on numerous occasions.

He has been an attorney since 1981 and is currently the Senior Staff Attorney for the City of Montgomery. He has also served as the President of two non-profits which help to serve the needs of the community.

McInnish has been married to Sue since 1968, has three children and eight grandchildren.


A Letter from a Participant Family

Dear church congregation,

It is with heartfelt emotions that I try to convey my gratitude to each of you.

Because of your continued support in the Respite Program, my precious mother has been a participant for over a year. (Do not tell, you know, that she is a “participant,” as she firmly believes she is a “volunteer.”) The pure joy of that statement to me conjures up deep emotion for me. Because when you experience the group, when you SEE them, WATCH the love, when you FEEL God’s presence…it is breathtaking.

The love and skill of the volunteers permeates the whole room and is contagious.

It is the most happy, happy place and continues to challenge me in my life to be the hands and feet of God; because that is what Respite exemplifies.

Now to move on to another program, marvelous program, we both love, my sweet mother and me. THE SIDE BY SIDE CHOIR! Mother’s memory is minimal most of the time. But do not fret! She bellows out, in her usually quiet voice, songs of faith, patriotism, and yes, ELVIS! And my heart melts. I watch, and listen, and cry as I see joy on the faces that struggle to talk, just like my mother. And in the moments of choir, they are whole in a different way.

So as another year passes, and my role as caregiver continues, with some struggles, I give thanks. Thanks for your life changing programs. We, our family, have been made better because you stepped out in faith. You answered God’s calling and decided to provide something that truly binds us together in love as we care for our beloved loved ones. You are the difference in our loved ones remaining home with us.

Love, Susan Somers