These places are tapping the healing power of music to spread cheer and joy during the pandemic.
- Posted on Oct 5, 2020
We may be physically separated from each other as we practice social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to connect. And music can be the perfect way to do that. As musician Josh Groban said wrote his book Josh Groban (Songbook): “If there is one thing that is constant in this world, it is the power of music.”
Across the country, people are using live music to comfort each other, lift each other up and remind each other of how we’re all in this together.
“Porch Praise” in Middletown, Ohio
With the closing of churches and places of worship, a lot of people had to do without uplifting praise music. But one Ohio resident is bringing music to people’s porches. Using a rented keyboard, John Burg is traveling around and playing religious music for people who need a pick me up. He calls the project “Porch Praise.”
“God gave me the idea and I just take it and go,” Burg told local12.com. For his listeners, Burg’s music is exactly what they need to get through these tough times. “It felt like I was in church,” says listener Joanne Love. “I mean it really felt like I was in church.” Another Middletown resident, Josephine Gates, says John’s music brought her comfort when she was waiting for family members to get their Covid-19 test results. “This meant a whole lot for me today,” she says, “when John come and bless my soul with this song.”
John is just happy to bring the live music experience to others. “A lot of churches are on Facebook or Zoom and doing things on the internet,” he says, “and so when they get that live feeling, some people lift their hands, some people cry, some people are joyous about it, and I just appreciate it.”
Figaro! in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Cancelled concerts was no excuse for opera-singing couple Leah Edwards and Dimitri Pittas to stop practicing. And now, they are using that practice to entertain their neighbors, performing at the end of their driveway to neighbors listening in from their porches. “We’re practicing, they say they can hear us anyways,” Leah told WCBD, “so we said why not take it to the driveway and make it a concert. It gets everyone out, checking on each other and get some breath of fresh air and make music.”
The couple, who has made these driveway performances a weekly thing, said their only requirement is that maintain proper social distance.
Leah and Dimitri hope their music will help bring the community closer, even as they stay physically separated. “We always talk about the pressure may be different,” says Leah, “but the fact of the matter is the music that we make isn’t different and that opera is for everybody.”
“Concerts from Cars” in New York, New York
New Yorkers have always stuck together, and the time of Covid-19 has been no different. Six New York musicians were tired of not having anyone to play with, so they decided to team up and bring their music to the streets. Olga Morkova, a Ukranian American activist and producer, is the creator of the group Concerts From Cars, named because each of the musicians plays from the back of their car to keep social distancing.
“The idea of Concerts From Cars came to me in the very beginning of the quarantine,” Olga said in an interview with Time Out. “As someone who was born in the Soviet Union and lived through a major humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, I knew that there is always a way, even when it looks like there is nothing we can do.”
The group has now taken to Instagram to spread their music. New Yorkers can reach out and ask for the musicians to come to their neighborhood to play. The group accepts donations and all proceeds go to help struggling musicians.
“We believe that music comes through us—musicians—and as it travels through us, it heals us, then it arrives to our audience and heals them,” says, Andrew Drury, one of the group percussionists. “We also strengthen community, as we stop by houses of other musicians and they join us from the stoop.”