ENGLEWOOD — Dina McReynolds Everage loves Christmas. As an educator tasked with enriching the lives of children, it’s almost a prerequisite.
So the former principal came up with the idea for a caroling group. When she pitched the idea to members of her weekly women’s group, they jumped at the chance.
And like that, Black Girls Carol was born.
Most of the women are education professionals over 40 and come from all over the South Side.
In the month since forming the group, Black Girls Carol’s Facebook page has grown over a hundred followers, with some new faces showing up every week to join the women on their quest to bring good tidings and cheer to neighborhoods in short supply.
“I was raised by a single mother on the South Side of Chicago, and my mom always worked extremely hard to make the holidays special,” McReynolds Everage said. “I definitely attribute a lot of my spirit around celebrating life to my mom.”
Her need to spread holiday cheer isn’t entirely altruistic. McReynolds Everage says she gets something in return whenever Black Girls Carol visits a South Side block to sing to neighbors: the fuel she needs to carry on in a year that has seen so much loss and devastation.
The group has gained a few fans as well, including Ald. David Moore (17th) and the nonprofit group My Block, My Hood, My City, both of whom have invited Black Girls Carol to sing at community events like “Be A Part Of The Light.”
“We’re getting invites to singing engagements now. It brings us joy when the community comes out. When we went caroling in Englewood, the block club president had already prepared everyone for our visit, so families were coming out in pajamas and house shoes listening to us sing. It was great,” said McReynolds Everage.
The group takes precautions amid the pandemic, including wearing masks while singing and spreading out, McReynolds Everage said.
The group hopes to keep the momentum going through the holidays, gathering at a new South Side location every Thursday to sing to neighbors for an hour. This week, they’re heading to Roseland.
While they perform the usual holiday standards, the song that seems to get the crowd most hype is their rendition of Chris Brown’s “This Christmas.”
Fellow Black Girl Caroler Gabrielle Herndon admits she isn’t the best singer, but loves going out week after week to do it. She also relishes her position as unofficial photographer/public relations person for the group.
“You usually don’t see people caroling in low income neighborhoods, so the response has been amazing,” Herndon said.
Though Herndon, the principal of a south suburban school, doesn’t consider herself a “Christmas person,” signing onto her friend’s wild idea to form a caroling group was something she needed. Another group McReynolds Everage created, one for women turning 50 in 2020, hit a snag when the pandemic hit, all the grand plans for birthday celebrations gone.
“We needed this. And seeing the families singing along, and people in cars stopping to watch us and take pictures and videos, that’s been worth it,” said Herndon.
McReynolds Everage is already planning for next year’s holiday season, and hopes that the membership will continue to grow.
“It’s a little something to make people smile and think about the reason for the season,” said McReynolds Everage.