Music for democracy

How do we get rid of the rancor and hatred that was stirred up by the recent presidential election, and rebuild democracy?

How about with music? Here are four examples, in chronological order:

1. Sing with Ocupella Nov. 30: Their announcement reads: “In response to the election results and ongoing turmoil, Ocupella and other singers are creating a public musical gathering for those who want to act in a positive and powerful way in response to the new era in our country. The long and noble tradition of song fueling social movements lives on, and will live on. We hope you will want to be part of it. Our next ‘Singing For Us All’ will be Wednesday evening, November 30, 4:45-6 PM at Ashby BART. ALL VOICES ARE WELCOME! Lyrics provided.”

2. Sing with Michèle Dec. 2: Michèle writes: “I’m hosting a special post-election #MeetupAmerica gathering this Friday, December 2, at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church on Washington at Curtis, in Albany. The idea behind #MeetupAmerica is, ‘No matter how you feel about the election outcome, we can all agree that democracy works best when we don’t just post online but come together face-to-face… Don’t underestimate the power of community.’ Come with a list of your fears, hopes and present joys. We’ll share our lists and sing, at the very least, This Little Light of Mine. Children are absolutely welcome. We’ll start at 7 p.m. and end the structured part of the evening before 8 p.m. The sanctuary is ours until 8:30 p.m…..” Let Michele know if you’re going to attend; there’s contact info on her Web site.

3. Sing for Democracy Dec. 4: This is the group I’m helping to organize, and here’s our announcement:

Join us for a song circle Sunday, December 4, from 2 to 4 p.m. on the 1st Sunday of the month at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto. We welcome all singers, as well as guitars, ukuleles, banjos, and any other instrument that goes well with singing.

Why we sing together:
— After the rancorous and divisive 2016 election, some of us felt a need for more music, and more community, in our lives
— We wanted to bring together several musical communities
— You can never have enough singing

What we sing:
We’re kinda making this up as we go along, but here’s what we have so far:
— We’ll have copies of the “Rise Up Singing” songbook
— You can bring your own songs to share — bring a dozen lyrics sheets or lead sheets, or teach simple songs by ear
— We’ll go around the circle, each in turn choosing a song to lead

4. Inauguration Eve concert Jan. 19: Bruce is arranging a concert the night before the presidential inauguration. He’s working on an interfaith gospel choir, a gay men’s chorus, and music from several different faith communities. I brought Bruce’s idea to Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice tonight (thanks to Kristi), and they’re going to see if they can add their support.

So this raises a question:

How are YOU using the arts to resist hatred and build democracy?

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