And I was itching do something. I wanted to help people with music but didn’t know exactly how to do it.
Speaking of, I have always been hopelessly addicted to music and the power it has to connect people. I remember my father would go to his office and mimeograph (the grandpappy of scanners) Carpenters’ lyrics from the liner notes of all the vinyl he had. During family gatherings, we would sit around and belt out songs like Jambalaya and Sing from the Carpenters’ albums and everyone was so happy. Maybe joy is a better word. Yes, we were joyful. We might not have realized it at the time, but everyone was connected and present. We all came together in the embrace of a song. Not a bad way to spend three minutes and twenty-five seconds.
Back to the story. Through a friend of a friend, I found myself at Covenant House, a homeless shelter for at-risk and trafficked teens located in downtown Atlanta. I remember racing down from work – shirt, tie, uncomfortable shoes – and finding their campus for the first time. I got out and thought to myself, “Ok, we might be pushing this connection thing a bit.” But we weren’t. Not even close.
The staff of Covenant House were fantastic and gave us a great space to write lyrics, create beats and ultimately record a song. We “released” it with a party of soda and candy. The teens were so joyful when they heard their voices on the track or the beat they helped create. They would jump and shout when their friend’s part came up embracing each other within the song. Pure joy.
There’s that word again.
It’s been 40 years, a million miles and a million more memories since I sat in my dad’s lap and sang, “Sing. Sing a song. Sing out loud. Sing out strong. Sing of good things not bad. Sing of happy, not sad.” I had no idea that moment would carry through to what we created at the Covenant House but it did. Music is the thread that holds this wonderful, crazy blanket of life together. And the cool thing is that we’ll never run out of thread.