When warriors come and bang the drum
And march their troops before us
Then friends of peace link hand in hand
And join as one in chorus
— Third verse of the song “How Can I Keep From Singing?” composed by Joel Mabus, 2003. Original hymn composed in 1860 by Robert Lowry.
Yesterday I, my husband, and my mother-in-law went to a Community Sing at my husband’s old middle school, now a community center, in East Lansing. This particular community sing was part of the annual Mid-Winter Singing Festival held this time of year. This is the first time that we’ve gone, but I’m guessing it won’t be our last. All of us had a wonderful time. If you like singing (even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket like me), like folk music, or like comedy you’d love this “concert”. Leading the sing this night were Joel Mabus (my favorite), Susan Werner (a new favorite), Frank Youngman (funny!!!), and Rachel Alexander (what she can do with 70 amateur singers in a 90-minute workshop is amazing!).
The mix of songs is older (i.e. “My Blue Heaven”) and newer (i.e. “My Girl” by Smokey Robinson). The singers on stage put their own spin on things too. And, every year after intermission at the Saturday Community Sing, the “choir” from Rachel Alexander’s 90-minute workshop comes out on stage to sing 2 songs. This year one of the songs sung was by Susan Werner herself. She sang with the choir. The song: “Help Somebody”. Loved, loved, loved it. Loved the song, and the 90-minute choir was spectacular. Here’s a performance of the song, though not the one I saw, obviously:
This night, WKAR, the East Lansing public TV station was filming a documentary about the Mid-Winter Singing Festival. I don’t know how the documentary will turn out and I don’t know when it’ll air, but if you can get WKAR on your TV, then I suggest you watch to get a feel for what it’s all about.
If you’ve never been to the Mid-Winter Singing Festival and the Community Sing, I’d highly recommend it. Plan ahead. The next Singing Festival is Friday-Saturday, February 4-5, 2011.