Elaine Kinghorn is a Kokopelli volunteer extraordinaire!
When young Jennifer Kinghorn (now McMillan) joined 'Nuf Sed in 1999, and then Kokopelli in 2000, she also brought her mother into our choir family. For two decades, Elaine Kinghorn has been one of our most dedicated and cherished volunteers. A longtime board member, Elaine became best known for capably running the box office at Kokopelli events. Behind the scenes, Elaine also found a million other ways to contribute to our organization.
Tell us about your earliest involvement in Kokopelli.
Well, I think it was around 2002. I used to help Louise Ludwig now and again, because she was just overwhelmed at times—collecting for tours, especially. She couldn’t come to every rehearsal. I told her, “You know, I’m not that far from rehearsal. I can pop in and collect for tours.” So, I’d just collect payments for her. And, the next thing I knew, I was involved selling tickets at the door.
I enjoy choral music, and where else can you go to get the best choral music? Once I got involved, I’d go and listen to it every week.
And how has your involvement with Kokopelli impacted your life?
Oh, goodness gracious. The tours alone. I mean, can you imagine? In my wildest dreams, I never dreamed I’d be going to Africa—not once, but twice.
And meeting the people in the choral community. Like Anne McIntyre. My gosh, I never had such a good time in my life, as when I travelled with her in Africa. And getting to know the staff, like [Koko bookkeeper] Maxine. Who could have brought a nicer person than that into my life? I’ve learned so much from her. The two of us worked together so well, for many many years.
It has impacted my life tremendously. If I hadn’t loved it so much, I wouldn’t have participated. It gave me something to do when I needed something to do.
All the people I’ve met! Hanging around in Africa for not one trip, but for two trips with Scott [Leithead]’s parents. And all the other parents, like the Olson family.
Man, I have been one lucky person. To have all this given to me. Well, not given to me, exactly, but I certainly took advantage!
Do you have any favourite memories? Something that sticks out as a real highlight?
I have so many favourite memories. But, the best one of all was probably [future son-in-law] John proposing to [daughter] Jennifer when we were in Africa. That was in 2007.
I think there were actually two proposals that year. Might even have been three.
Jennifer had been in Africa for a while—she was the exchange chorister that year. She was living with [Mascato founder] Mrs. Venter.
John decided that he would come to Africa that summer for the trip with Kokopelli. He had been away from Jennifer for several months by then, and this was killing him. He came over to our house, and he was the most nervous person in the whole wide world. I knew he was going to ask for our blessings. And, sure enough, that’s what he did.
So then, I think the very first night we were in Africa, we all went out to a nice restaurant, the Lighthouse. John was so nervous, and Jennifer kept saying, ‘What on earth is wrong with you?’ He knew he was going to ask her that evening. He was just as nervous as nervous can be.
But it all went down that evening, and the rest is history!
How has the choir experience affected your family—not just Jennifer, but now the next generation as well? What’s it like seeing your two granddaughters out there where Jen used to be?
You’ve seen little Alexis perform—that little girl can’t stand still if her life depended on it. (chuckles). Jennifer was always such a little goody-two-shoes when she was in children’s choir. But Alexis has grown up with Kokopelli, and she knows you have to move—and she moves all the time! But I do love seeing both the grandchildren. I love every minute of it. All of the little ones! I just love all of them.