Out & About: Bradford singalongs remind participants that everyone can sing
Published: 02-09-2024 8:01 PM
Modified: 02-12-2024 11:42 AM
BRADFORD, Vt. — Before leading the first Bradford Bringalong Singalong, Mallory Graham was admittedly a little terrified.
Graham plays roughly 150 shows a year along with her partner, Scott Tyler, as part of the folk duo The Rough & Tumble. But the singalongs were different.
“We were so nervous for the first one because it’s just different and as much as we said, ‘Hey, this is a singalong,’ there was still this weird fear of, ‘What if we’re there and nobody sings along?’ ” Graham said in a February phone interview.
As it turned out, the duo had nothing to fear. After leading a series of vocal warm-up exercises including scales, the dozens who gathered at Bradford Academy this past November night was ready to go.
“Once we got to the first song, everybody was on board,” Graham, of Haverhill, said. “Everybody just seemed to jump right in.”
That’s been the norm since the monthly Bringalong Singalongs launched last fall. The free events — funded through a grant from the Vermont Community Foundation — are a joint project that involves the Bradford Parks and Recreation Department, musician Jennifer Grossi’s group, project jelinora, and The Rough & Tumble. The next gathering is scheduled to take place at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15. Following the roughly hour-long singalong, which will be led by Rose Ayala, participants are welcome to bring food and gather for an informal potluck. Lyrics are projected on a screen in the auditorium so that everyone can follow along.
“The feeling of the event is pretty informal and joyful,” Grossi, of Bradford, Vt., said in a January phone interview. Grossi organized the town’s Summer Street Music Series from 2011 to 2020. “I get the sense that the time is right for singing along, culturally,” she said, adding that coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic people have been searching for more connection with their community, and music can provide that.
Each gathering begins and ends with a song The Rough & Tumble wrote especially for the Bringalong Singalongs. The chorus, in part, is: “When we sing (When we sing) When we sing/ I’m with my neighbor and my neighbor’s with me.”
That community aspect appeals to musicians and attendees alike. Steve and Kate Davie, of Ryegate, Vt., have attended two of the singalongs and, along with the rest of their band, will be leading the one scheduled for March 21.
“I think one of the strengths of it is every time we go there there’s people that we know and … people that we don’t know,” Kate Davie said in a phone interview. “I think they’re getting a really lovely mix of people. In this day and age, any time you can get people of different backgrounds and social spheres to get together that’s a real plus.”
The couple, along with Heather Alger, Nick Anzalone and Stuart Corso, perform as part of the band Fifth Business. The flexibility artists have to make the singalongs their own in terms of genre and style appeals to them.
“We tend toward traditional and more British than American, a little Celtic fringe thrown in there,” Kate Davie said. She described some of their pieces as “sea shanties and things that Englishmen can sing when they’re drunk.”
When Grossi asked them if they’d be interested in leading an event, they quickly signed on.
“As far as I’m concerned, singing with other people is a peak human experience,” Kate Davie said.
Davie felt that way during January’s singalong, which was led by Thomas Chapin, a music teacher at Waits River Valley School in East Corinth. Among the songs he included were the ’80s hits “Eye of the Tiger” by the band Survivor and “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers.
“It was just really, really fun to sing the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ together as loud as I could with other people, not just in the privacy of my car,” Davie said.
Like the Davies, Chapin was approached by Grossi to lead a session. As a teacher, he has noticed that children start off enthusiastic to sing, but around fifth or sixth grade they start to have fears about singing in public.
“We all grow up with a natural ability and desire to sing, but many of us lose it somewhere along the way,” Chapin wrote in an email. “By providing a safe and welcoming environment for people of all ages, events like the Bringalong Singalongs can help remind us that singing does not have to be scary and that it’s never too late to become a singer again.”
For more information about the Bradford Bringalong Singalongs, visit Facebook: “Bradford Bringalong Singalong.” Liz Sauchelli can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3221.
CORRECTION: Heather Alger, Nick Anzalone and Stuart Corso — along with Kate and Steve Davie —are part of the band Fifth Business. All band members will lead a session of the Bradford Bringalong Singalong scheduled for March 21. A previous version of this column was unclear about which members of the band would be present.