City Voices

Homelessness to Hopefulness WATCH TRAILER More Details

About the Film

Homelessness to Hopefulness

City Voices follows the lives of six members of the Norfolk Street Choir, a choral group comprised of Hampton Roads residents affected by homelessness. Every Friday morning the group gathers at Freemason Baptist Church for breakfast and a choir session under the tutelage of Virginia Symphony Chorus Master Robert Shoup.

Follow Willie, Johnnie, Kim, Big Mike, Nadine and Jurrell as they struggle with the hardships of the streets, the ups and downs of relationships and the frustration in finding housing. See how a small community coming together under the single purpose of choral music can find friends, hope and their voice.Watch TrailerWatch Clips

Release Dates

  • 18November

    Broadcast Premiere

    • 8:00 p.m.
    • on WHRO TV 15

Watch trailer

Additional Scenes

  • Chef Carl Warren

    • Carl Warren serves as Choir Manager for the Norfolk Street Choir.
    • 1080p
  • Nadine's Poetry

    • In early 2019, Nadine published a book of poems featuring the stories of many women at different stages of their lives.
    • 1080p
  • Johnnie's Music Video

    • During the filming of the documentary, Johnnie had the opportunity to record his song in a professional studio.
    • 1080p

Finding a Family...and a Voice

Every night as Willie lays down under the busy overpass, it’s not the noise of traffic that’s keeping him awake. After the death of his aunt, Big Mike’s world crumbles, but a new-found friend may help him rebuild. Jurrell is close to getting his own apartment, when an unfortunate event places his chance in jeopardy. Before she realizes it, Nadine finds herself homeless and hungry in a strange land. As Kim sweeps the floor of the metal shop her thoughts drift to her husband and the time he is doing for the two of them. Johnnie lost his twin sister and mother but through songwriting he’s found the drive to go on. A drive he wants to share.

These members of the Hampton Roads homeless community come together every Friday morning to practice choral music under under the tutelage of Bob Shoup where they find hope, friendship, and, most importantly, a voice…LATEST NEWS

Latest news

Editorial: Fighting Homelessness

  Nov 12, 2019     admin

NOTE: This editorial was previously published in The Virginian-Pilot on December 30, 2018. I LOVE LILY. For a few days earlier this month, this sweet “Sesame Street” puppet turned our gaze to a problem hidden in plain sight in this country: family homelessness. Despite a booming economy, homelessness in the United States continues to persist and grow. After 20 years of disinvestment by ...

Top 3 Things to Know About Homelessness & Housing Instability

  Nov 12, 2019     admin

Family and youth homelessness is often hidden and heartbreaking and there is not enough shelter.  5,297 households with children requested shelter through the ForKids Regional Housing Crisis Hotline last year. Family homelessness looks like the young mom who had the courage to leave an abusive relationship but just can’t make enough making coffee at Starbucks. It is the 22-year-old who...

Q & A with Director Kendrick Hopkins Jr.

  Oct 12, 2019     Belinda Elliott

As production on City Voices wrapped up, we sat down with the film's director Kendrick Hopkins Jr. to ask him about the documentary. How did the film come about? Being that the Goode grant/documentary is a yearly project, I always try to keep my eyes open for interesting art related stories that have a connection to Hampton Roads. Funny thing about the Norfolk Street Choir is that I first learned ...

Get Involved: Here’s How You Can Help

  Oct 10, 2019     Belinda Elliott

If you’d like to assist people who are experiencing homelessness in our community, there are many ways to help. We’ve done the research for you and put together this list of the most helpful ways to get involved, along with a few “don’ts” that you should be aware of.   To help local organizations, you can donate your money, time or other resources. Donate money. Most local organiza...

How Nadine Found Her Voice

  Oct 9, 2019     Belinda Elliott

Nadine F. has a beautiful voice, but she hasn’t always realized it. A native of Africa, she grew up doubting that she could sing because whenever she did, a family member stopped her. “I really thought I was bad at singing,” she said. As a teenager, she was a good dancer and decided she wanted to become a singer as well to be like pop stars that she had seen. She asked her father to send he...

John Guglielmino: A Passion to Help the Homeless in Norfolk

  Oct 8, 2019     Belinda Elliott

John Guglielmino has worked in the field of human services for 16 years. In his role with the Norfolk Community Services Board, he assists people who are experiencing homelessness and works to help them obtain housing. He has a passion for helping people that stems from his own experiences with homelessness. As a young child in New York, both of his parents died leaving him to spend a lot of time...

Johnnie D: Don’t Give Up

  Oct 7, 2019     Belinda Elliott

Johnnie D. has been with the Norfolk Street Choir since its very beginning. He has watched it grow from a small group of members into a family that enjoys coming together to rehearse and then sharing their message with others.  As a singer/songrwriter himself, he said he was honored when the choir chose to perform one of his original songs titled ‘Don't give up.’ He wrote the song in 199...

Big Mike: Giving Back

  Oct 6, 2019     Belinda Elliott

“The Norfolk Street Choir is one of the jewels in my life that I look forward to every Friday,” explains Mike R., a member who has been with the choir since its inception. “I look forward to giving back to the community and putting smiles on people’s faces.” He grew up enjoying music, but said he didn’t realize that he could sing.  “I remember when I was a teenager I used...

Jurrell: Hard Work and Determination

  Oct 6, 2019     Belinda Elliott

Jurrell joined the Norfolk Street Choir in its second year. He said he has always had a love for music.  “I started when I was young, I guess back in 1980,” he explained. “I was in the choir with my grandmother, and she kept saying, ‘You know, Jurrell, you've got a beautiful voice. Just keep working at it.’” He said he has really appreciated Bob’s teaching. Jurrell teache...

Our Partners

WHRO Public Media would like to thank the following partners:


Goode Family Foundation

City of Norfolk

Norfolk Street Choir

Freemason Street Baptist Church

The National Alliance for Music in Vulnerable Communities

Virginia Commission for the Arts


Video Gallery

Featured choir members

Michael “Big Mike”R.

After the death of his aunt, Big Mike’s world crumbled.

When Mike was 3 days old, his mother tried to sell him. His grandmother took him and raised him, but in early elementary school she pulled him out of school to help care for his ailing grandfather. After the death of his grandparents, he went to live with his Aunt Martha who raised and nurtured him. When she passed away, he was left homeless. Read more of his story.

Johnnie was born a conjoined twin.

During the separation of the conjoined twins at age 7, his sister died. His song “Don’t Give Up” won him a scholarship in high school. He wrote the song after competing in the Special Olympics. Read more of his story.

Willie’s parent’s died only weeks apart when he was 17 years old.

He’d been a star athlete in high school, but after his parents’ death he became depressed. He later moved from his hometown in North Carolina to work in the shipyards of Virginia. After working for years, he was laid off. When he eventually ran out of money, he lived on the street for several years, most notoriously under a Harbor Park overpass.

Nadine is originally from the Congo and speaks five languages.

She is a talented singer and songwriter, but before she realizes it, Nadine finds herself homeless and hungry in a strange land. Nadine has also written a book of poetry, Daughter Of Eve: The Story Of Many, which features the stories of many women at different stages of their lives. Read more of her story.

Jurrell tried to commit suicide after the death of his grandfather.

When he survived, he took it as a sign that he was meant to live. Since then, he’s been working to secure his own place and get back on his feet. Read more of his story.

Kim keeps the Norfolk Street Choir laughing.

As Kim sweeps the floor of the metal shop her thoughts drift to her husband and the jail time he is doing for the two of them.

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux