About Us

New York City Labor Chorus

Who We Are

Our members belong to over 20 different unions, and we promote union solidarity and social justice through song. Our repertoire tells the story of labor’s history and ongoing struggles, drawing on gospel, jazz, classical, and folk traditions. 

We sing on picket lines, and we’ve sung at Carnegie Hall. Since 1991 we’ve brought our musical message to union halls, community centers, protests, and stages throughout the New York area and to Canada, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Sweden and Wales. 

Our Mission

The New York City Labor Chorus brings labor’s message wherever we can, sharing the importance of unions in the struggle for social and economic justice and encouraging solidarity among working people everywhere. 

Our History

The New York City Labor Chorus got its start in 1991 when a group of labor activists decided the union movement needed more music. With the help of several New York City union locals and support from the legendary Pete Seeger, chorus members began rehearsing in a public-school auditorium. They built a repertoire of labor, civil rights, and protest songs from the United States and around the world – a repertoire that continues to grow as the times demand. 

Over the years the chorus has sung on picket lines, at labor rallies, at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, and at a Carnegie Hall tribute to Paul Robeson. We performed at Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden, Lincoln Center’s Roots of American Music Festival, the United Nations, and on Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Around the Campfire” album. The chorus also sings at the annual memorial to the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and the yearly New York City Labor Day Parade. 

Hand holding banjo. Black and white photo.
Pete Seeger and his banjo
New York City Labor chorus in Puerto Rico

The New York City Labor Chorus took its first overseas trip in 1997, when two Swedish unions hosted a tour of that country. After that came a visit to sing at Toronto’s 2005 Mayworks celebration and a tour of southern Wales with famed Welsh miners’ choral groups in 2009. We traveled to Cuba in 2011, singing with choral groups at labor and cultural centers. Just a month before the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, we sang in Puerto Rico for unions, schools, Casa Pueblo, and the Conservatorio de Musica in San Juan. 

After the inevitable hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the chorus has resumed in-person rehearsals and a full performance schedule. 

The people who keep NYCLC singing

Meet Us

Chorus Officers

Robert Greenberg
Interim President

Jeff Vogel
Interim Vice President

Betty Reid

Rona Armillas

Jana Ballard is honored to have been the music director of the New York City Labor Chorus since 2010 and looks forward to many more years to come! In addition, Ms. Ballard has been on the music faculty at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art & Performing Arts in New York City since 2007. At LaGuardia, she conducts both the Senior Chorus and Cantare, teaches Solo Voice, and is a Sight Singing instructor. She served as the Repertoire & Standards Senior High School Chair for the Eastern Division of the American Choral Directors Association from 2012-2016.

Ms. Ballard is a frequent guest conductor and clinician for honors choirs and has served as a clinician and guest pedagogue with the Metropolitan Opera Education Program. She was the choral director for Arturo O’Farrill’s 2020 Grammy Award Winning Album, Four Questions, and served as a Think Tank Educator for Grammy Award Winning and World-Renowned Composer, Eric Whitacre, for his Virtual Choir 6: “Sing Gently” Project. Ms. Ballard has been a member of the Queens Summer Vocal Institute teaching staff since 2012 and serves as the college division’s stage director. She also conducts the Christ Church Community Youth Choir at New Brighton Episcopal Church and frequently performs as a soprano soloist with New York City based ensembles.

Ms. Ballard earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in music education from Western Kentucky University.

Keyboardist, songwriter and arranger Dennis Nelson is a native and resident of Brooklyn, New York.  He attended the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and is a graduate of Hofstra University. He is the organist and choir director for Trinity Baptist Church in Brooklyn and is teacher of music. He is a member of Local 802 of the American Musicians Union and the United Federation of Teachers.

Over the years, Mr. Nelson has worked with various musical aggregations and soloists covering a variety of musical genres.  He has also, since 2008, been one of the accompanists for “Call Mr. Robeson,” the award-winning play about the life of Paul Robeson.  An ASCAP-affiliated writer, he recently released his debut solo piano project, entitled “Healing (Meditative Moments).”  Mr. Nelson has been blessed over the years to share his talents locally, nationally and abroad, providing inspiration, encouragement, comfort and healing through the ministry of music.

Barbara Bailey

1939 - 2023

In December 2023 the New York City Labor Chorus lost its co-founder and long-time president, Barbara Bailey. 

Read our tribute to Barbara here.


NYCLC is an all-volunteer organization. Any and all contributions are welcomed!

All contributions are tax deductible.