Music can’t change the world,
but music changes people and people change the world.

Erin Guinup
I am a big believer in the power of music to change lives. Music helped me as a bullied teenager to feel safe and accepted and helped me again as a college student to gain confidence and an understanding of how I might help others. Music helped me find the strength to press on when I was a young mom with a gravely sick husband and comforted me when some of my greatest dreams were crushed. Music has been my companion through the darkest nights and given me the strength and courage to do things I would never have had the courage to do otherwise. These experiences are why I am so passionate about helping others feel the power of music in their own lives and to harness this power to heal, change, and unite us as individuals and communities.

It’s hard not to love people when you sing together.

I feel so fortunate to engage in a variety of musical activities that are centered on the principle of love. Whether I’m leading a choir, speaking or leading a workshop, singing, or teaching a voice lesson, my focus is on helping people know that they matter and that their voice can make a difference to others.

If you can speak, you can sing
and if you can move, you can groove. 

So often people have been told that they can't sing and this limiting belief has deprived them of joy and the immense benefits of using our full voice. Joy in singing is not dictated by our ability! Saying you can't sing is like saying I can't cook dinner just because I'm not a professional chef. We get better by simply doing it. Though I wasn’t born with an extraordinary voice, I found purpose in developing my instrument and feel fortunate to help others learn how to use their voice to sing, express themselves and contribute their unique gifts to making the world a little better one step at a time.


Erin Guinup is the founding Executive and Artistic Director of the Tacoma Refugee Choir. In their first three years, they have welcomed over 600 people from over 50 countries and performed for over 25,000 people at events including WE Day, Race & Pedagogy National Conference, and the Families Belong Together Rally in collaboration with Grammy-winning recording artists and political leaders. A passionate advocate of community singing and the power of music to heal and unite communities, she has spoken at TEDxSeattle and been featured on PBS with the Refugee Choir, led community singing events and spoken at national conferences for Chorus America, National Association of Teachers of Singing, American Choral Director’s Association, and the International Congress of Voice Teachers in Stockholm, Sweden.

As a solo artist, Erin frequently performs as a guest soloist with ensembles including Symphony Tacoma, Ensign Symphony, Northwest Repertory Singers and Tacoma Concert Band and her internationally performed one-woman show, The Ladies of Lyric and Song: Female Composers and Lyricists of the American Musical Theatre has been praised as “an amazing tour-de-force”. Specializing in both classical and contemporary technique, she is a sought-after clinician and voice teacher with students on Broadway, regional theatre and operatic stages, and television’s American Idol, The Voice, and America’s Got Talent. Other career highlights include playing Mary Poppins; conducting Rob Gardner’s Lamb of God, Handel’s Messiah, and the world premiere of Orson Scott Card and Mark Mitchell’s He is There; singing with Israeli-Palestinian choir Common Ground Voices in Jerusalem and Europe; premiering an original song with Symphony Tacoma; and vocal workshops with Fortune 100 companies including Amazon. She is a composer and author, contributing to the books So You Want to Sing Music by Women and My Body Was Left on the Street: Music Education and Displacement. Most recently, Erin was named one of five Women to Watch by South Sound Magazine.

Short Bio

Erin Guinup is the founding Director of the Tacoma Refugee Choir, a TEDx speaker, soprano soloist, author, composer, conductor and voice teacher. Highlights include an international tour of a one-woman show on female musical theatre composers; speaking at national conferences for ACDA, NATS and Chorus America; premiering an original song with Symphony Tacoma; singing in Jerusalem; and playing Mary Poppins.