on the night of April 26, boy, did we have a party! Hundreds of Solidarity Sing Along participants and supporters gathered at the Majestic Theater in Madison to celebrate the 350th day of melodiously protesting Governor Scott Walkerâ€™s policies. Plus we cheered the release of our cd â€œThis is What Democracy Sounds Like.â€ Lyrics are included with the cd so you can sing alongâ€”or just listen to a cut online at http://soundcloud.com/solidarity-sing-along
I was honored to design the cd booklet and cover pictured above. Here is the story of how we got to where we are now, written by Chris Reeder, our organizer and song leader:
â€œOn March 11, Steve Burns printed up some song books and led the first Solidarity Sing Along in the Capitol.
During those first few weeks, weâ€™d be lucky to get 15 people in the circle. Weâ€™d stand there, staring nervously at each other, and weâ€™d sing. Our voices might have been shaking, but we sang. We sang out our frustration; we sang out our anger. While there were no longer 100,000 people in the streets, we wanted to make sure the legislators in the Capitol knew that the citizens of Wisconsin had not gone away. That we had not forgotten. That this was all far from over.
We sang every day. A dozen of us. Then two dozen. Then, all of a sudden, we were getting a hundred people every day.
And slowly, without anyone really noticing, some remarkable things started to happen. A community developed. Friendships formed. We supported each other. We cried together on the bad days and hugged each other on the good days.
We found that, although the main point of the sing along was still the petitioning of our government, a secondary purpose had developed. The sing along was strengthening us. The power of singing together was unmistakable. We left stronger than we arrived. We might arrive in despair, shocked at some new atrocity the Walker administration was attempting to foist upon our state, but we could leave strengthened and ready to get back to the important work of participatory democracy.
Perhaps most remarkably, we startedâ€”on occasionâ€”to sound good. I suppose it should have been no big surprise. If you do anything for an hour 300 times, you will improve, but it still came as a surprise to us.
Some people who attend the sing along are professional-level musicians and singers. Some never even considered singing in public before the sing along began. Yet we all
blend together into a harmonious whole. Once or twice a week, we sing outside. Over the course of several months, as musicians began to bring instruments, an ad-hoc band formed. They have been dubbed The Learning Curve, due to the ever-changing nature of who they are and what they are asked to do. Theyâ€™re never the same group of people, but they are always amazing.
Eventually, through the goodwill of some very generous people (in particular Steve Gotcher, Audio For The Arts, and Sally de Broux) we were asked to do a recording. It may not be the most polished recording ever made, but the passion of these citizens of Wisconsin, who make their way into the Capitol every single weekday to sing for what they believe in, is unmistakable.
We have never thought of what we do as a performance. One of the central ideas of Solidarity Sing Along is that anyone can participate. So, please, when you listen to this document of a remarkable timeâ€”sing along.â€
You can download the cd at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/solidaritysingalong
All proceeds will benefit the Wisconsin recall effort.