After serving as missionaries in the Nauvoo Performing Mission, members of Heart & Voice, a musical theater group, now work to inspire Utah residents as they praise the Lord through song and dance.
It is a tradition for the returned missionaries to sing at each other’s homecomings. However, Rachel Andelin, who returned from Nauvoo in 2021, saw the potential of this practice after a group of 25 former missionaries was invited to sing at a stake conference.
Andelin reflected on how she felt while participating in the stake conference.
“I just had this really strong impression saying, ‘you need to start a fireside group from these people. They’re so talented and people need to be lifted through music, through this special form of sharing testimony,’” Andelin said.
The next day Andelin received a call from another returned Nauvoo Performing missionary, Cristian Torres.
Torres told Andelin he and another returned missionary, Kylee Christensen, were putting a group of returned missionaries together to perform with the gifts they acquired from their time in Nauvoo.
“And as he shared, I realized our vision was the same,” Andelin said.
Andelin believes God prepared their team as they started working together to form this group.
Andelin, who got her undergrad in psychology and her master’s in social work at BYU, now serves as the composer and writer for some of the group’s songs, musical composition and narration.
“We’ve really felt God’s hand in writing it and rehearsing it,” Andelin said.
The group has performed twice so far, but they have already seen the impact from those who have attended.
UVU senior Rachel Shaw, a member of Heart & Voice, said, “we just were able to bring something that completely inspired others.”
She was especially excited to see how it touched youth and young adults.
“One of my roommates came. She just barely got home from the mission and has been struggling with the transition, honestly. And she came up to me afterward and she was like, ‘I thought my relationship with Christ was close, but this performance has just changed me,’” Shaw said.
Members of the audience had positive things to say about the experience as well.
“Hearts swelled and tears fell as the choir sang about, testified of, and relayed heavenly promises of peace, joy and eternal life,” said Pyper Foote, who attended Heart & Voice’s first performances of their production of Sing Redeeming Love.
Heart & Voice have also had a positive influence on the performers. One such performer, Joey Thompson, said that participating in the program helped him work on managing his time, offering peace, utilizing his gifts and being a part of something bigger than himself.
Heart & Voice is currently in the third week of the Sing Redeeming Love tour, with subsequent performances on Sunday, March 26, at 7 p.m. and a Community Easter Concert on April 9, at 7 p.m. in Orem.
The performing group plans on expanding their group to introduce an “upbeat, kind of fun dance show” called Hope Out Loud for the fall season, according to Andelin. She said that her time in Nauvoo taught her that one could feel the spirit through “joyful movements.”
Torres said they are looking for people to audition and that all are welcome to apply on their website even if they have no affiliation with the Nauvoo Pagent Mission.
He also said those interested in requesting a performance can do so on their website.
Like those who have performed with and attended Heart & Voice, Shaw is “just so excited to see where it goes from here.”