JUPITER, Fla.-- Erica Lyles is a music therapist who, most recently, has been directing a diverse choir of voices that many might ignore. "We have one gentleman who uses sign language which is great because who says you have to sing to be part of this."
The singers Lyles directs are all on the autism spectrum. All over 16 and some have lived their whole life feeling different. But on the stage at the Els Center for Excellence they are the stars.
"From being shy and really closed off, maybe not being able to make eye contact or communicate or express themselves to being able to perform in front of people," said Lyles.
Performing is just what they will be doing in December. They will perform in a big holiday show with the help of the Palm Beach Opera.
"We just believe everybody ha a story to tell and music is the way to do that," said Palm Beach Opera Education & Community Engagement associate Abbey Ward.
The symphony of special singers is allowing many, such as choir member Kate Roberts, to hit a high note. "I feel that we each have our own tastes."
Is that a good thing? she was asked. She said: "It sure is."
Her answer is music to the ears of Lyles who wrote the first chorus of what is sure to be a big hit.
"My biggest excitement is that when I see someone up there and they are smiling 'cause they are proud of themselves,"
The choir just began practice two weeks ago and is open to anyone over 16 with special needs.