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A Singing Festival for Everyone!

February 02, 2005

Sally Potter (no relation -- or...?) and friends came up with coolest of events a couple years ago and it just took off like gangbusters. It's the first in the land. But it has already inspired many others.

Lansing has a great folk music scene---one of the best in the US. Probably thanks mostly to the presence of the biggest folk music store that employs a buncha local folkies.

Everyone needs to learn how to sing and to learn songs worth singing. But this isn't done anymore.

Sally and friends decided to change all that. So they launched this free public festival in the middle of winter when everyone has cabin fever. It's at the main community center of East Lansing, Michigan. And the whole town basically showed up to just sing-along. It's taken off like it's rocket-powered. (They wish they had more parking, more room, but a few thousand folks fit OK.) There are no performers. There are, however, song-leaders up on stage who are gleaned from a huge and diverse regional talent pool. It's free, but during each of the weekend days there are clinics in a huge array of kinds of singing, where you can attend as many classes as you like over the weekend for just $10-$15. This is a hugely great 'take back your life' civic-cultural event.

The organizers say bold and direct things about why it's needed. They say (and I agree) that the lack of public singing is intentional. Or at least it's inevitable given the nature of American anti-culture. Singing is empowering and no one in charge of the US wants the public to have any kind of power. Also, this is a group gathering whose only purpose is to promote a sense of harmonious togetherness. There's no us/them, home/away-team. There's no passive consumer stadium music thing. To the business-mind (big or small) this is corrupting. It shows the "all against all" approach to be a lie. (Now, business isn't bad---it just should never lead. For instance, this is a very well-run event that likely pays its way, yet it's about people first.)


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