The Starbucks Chorus is sponsoring a benefit concert on May 1, involving multiple community choruses and agencies, with proceeds helping people facing homelessness in King County.

Share story

Just say hello.

That’s the mantra of Rex Hohlbein’s nonprofit Facing Homelessness and the central message of Sunday night’s “Street Requiem,” a benefit concert for the homeless in King County at Benaroya Hall.

Hohlbein will discuss his “Just Say Hello” campaign, which combats negative stereotypes about the homeless, during the concert sponsored by the Starbucks Chorus. Also performing will be dozens of other community choruses; Michael “The Wanz” Wansley, known for his contribution to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop”; and two local singers who are facing homelessness themselves.


‘Street Requiem’

7 p.m. Sunday, May 1, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; tickets from $29 (206-215-4747 or

The rest of the concert will be dedicated to “Street Requiem,” a choral work meant to bring hope to communities and individuals working to end homelessness and violence on the streets. Starbucks describes it as a “reinvention of the traditional requiem, with a contemporary twist that features a modern setting of the Latin text, enhanced with English, African and Persian lyrics.”

“I hope that people will begin to consider the people that they walk past in the streets,” said Andy Payne, co-creator of “Street Requiem” with fellow Australians Kathleen McGuire and Jonathon Welch. “The idea of actually acknowledging people with a smile or a hello, how is it going, as opposed to what most of what of us would do … which is eyes fixed and walk as fast as you can … Yes, we need to address the fundamental problems of why things are like that; in the meantime, we need to acknowledge people as individuals.”

The concert will include remarks from Colleen Echohawk-Hayashi, executive director of Chief Seattle Club, and a presentation about the Homeless Remembrance Project from the Women’s Housing Equity and Enhancement League. Leonard King and Gabriella Duncan, both currently homeless in Seattle, will perform solos as part of a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World.”

Sunday marks the third U.S. performance of “Street Requiem.” James Hing, the director of the Starbucks Chorus, saw it in Dallas and wanted to bring it to Seattle.

“What really fired me up is seeing the Syrian refugee crisis and hearing people say they are gonna put up a fence. Are you crazy? These are human beings, but you can see that in your own backyard. In Seattle, we are also putting up a fence — to cage the homeless — like they do in The Jungle,” Hing said.

“Music can speak and move people to action,” Hing said. “We are hoping that we plant seeds with people so they go back to their own community to help. It’s music that goes beyond entertainment, it has purpose.”

The Starbucks Chorus is a four-part harmony a cappella group of volunteer employees. Since 1996, the chorus has raised more than $470,000.

Proceeds from the concert will be divided equally among Sawhorse Revolution, Downtown Emergency Service Center, Pike Market Senior Center, Real Change and Seattle Housing and Resource Effort.

‘Street Requiem’

7 p.m. Sunday, May 1, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; tickets from $29 (206-215-4747 or