Sohrweid, Mary Elaine Meeks
Elaine was born and raised in northeast Texas, the youngest of seven children.
Music played a huge role in her life from a very early age when she can remember being hoisted up on a piano bench at church so others could see her sing.
Throughout school and college, she often held leadership roles, from drum major of the marching band to student director of the concert band. During her school years was part of a trio called "The TruTones" that performed at numerous events as well as on radio and television.
She credits an English teacher from high school for helping her focus on diction and getting rid of her Texas accent, although she points out that she has no difficulty slipping back into the Texas drawl in the right environment.
With teaching credentials, she had several opportunities but chose Jefferson County, Colorado where she taught for 23 years, first at Wilmot and later at West Jeff Elementary School in Conifer, focusing on art, music and physical education, retiring in 1997. While at West Jeff Elementary, she formed The Broadway Bobcats, a performance organization for elementary students that exposed them to choreography, writing of scripts, lighting, sound, creation of sets; the students also learned to be stage managers and assistant directors, working with mentoring adults.
The first week after her arrival in Evergreen in 1964, she met another teacher – Larry Sohrweid – who would become her husband and the father of their two children, Heidi and Lara.
She began singing in the choir at Evergreen Lutheran Church in 1965, being named director in 1969, a position she held for 29 years.
Her mark on Evergreen has been her influence on children in the area of music, directing the Evergreen Children's Chorale from 1994 to the present and founding the Prelude to the Children's Chorale in 1996. The Children's Chorale gives children in grades 4-8 the opportunity to gain experience in musical productions and to perform with others; about 60 children are accepted each year. Approximately 40 younger children are accepted each year into Prelude, a stepping stone for gaining experience with singing, narration, character development, stage presence, accompaniment and movement to better equip them to compete for a spot in the Children's Chorale.
Amongst her favorite shows while directing the Evergreen Children's Chorale are: "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," "Wizard of Oz," and "Godspell." Some of the children who trained under her direction and have gone on to pursue careers in music include: Matt Adrian, Amy Lovin, Amy Grass, Justin Bergevin, Garrett Chado, Steve Milligan, and Alex Bauer.
Elaine has been the musical director and vocal coach for more than 45 musicals for young people and adults. She describes her style as a combination of discipline and leadership, using different dialects to get attention and inject humor.
Working with Director Mike Weiker, she was the Assistant Director of the Evergreen Chorale for 20 years, from 1987 – 2007. "Mike brought a joy of performing and a very welcoming attitude of families," she noted. "We made a great team for 25+ years."
In addition, she was active with the Evergreen Players. She was known and appreciated for her performing, singing, directing, costuming, running lights and sound with both organizations.
She was active in Pizazz, an offshoot of The Evergreen Chorale, a small group of 14 which traveled through Colorado to perform, raising money for the Chorale. She was also a soloist with The Jefferson Symphony.
During her career, she sang the leads and performed in more than 60 musicals and operas; her favorites included The Mother Abbess in "The Sound of Music" Mame in "Mame," Sister Robert Anne in "nonsense," and Adelaide in "Guys and Dolls."
In 1964 Elaine was recognized in Who's Who in America's Colleges and Universities. She was among those recognized in the Colorado Awards for Exellence in Teaching and Community Sevrice in 1964, and twice she was the recipient of the Award for Community Service presented by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), first in high school and in 1998, from the Mountain Rendezvous Chapter in Evergreen. In 2002 she was designated One of Colorado's Outstanding Women by the Colorado Opera Troupe.