“I’ve learned to keep trying / and to ask for help. / I believe in me.”
-from “A Song Everyone Can Sing,” music by Jay Fluellen, lyrics by Daniel Simpson, based on words by students from Our Lady of Confidence Day School
In March, we experienced something special. More than 60 people stood on the stage of the Temple Performing Arts Center and sang.
There were students from the Overbrook School for the Blind and Northeast High School and Our Lady of Confidence Day School. There were adults from Merakey Behavioral Health. There was the internationally renowned a cappella ensemble VOCES8, from the UK. There were local artists who had collaborated to create accessible choral music.
This multi-faceted choir performed the world premiere of “A Song Everyone Can Sing,” a choral work commissioned by LiveConnections that celebrates inclusivity through singing, movement and visuals. Some singers were young people with physical and intellectual disabilities. Some were adults receiving therapeutic and recovery services.
They sang about themselves—what they loved and what they feared. They sang about their struggles with mental illness and their desire to be accepted.
The youth from Our Lady of Confidence Day School have been coming to our educational Bridge Session performances for many years. Now they were center stage, singing their own words to a full house.
The refrain asked “How do we find a song that everyone can sing?”
We can do it by believing that young people count. That people with disabilities count. That everyone’s voices count.
Help us tell more people “I believe in you.”
Students from Our Lady of Confidence Day School sing their song.
LiveConnections staff and creative team members stand on stage; from left to right: executive director Melinda Steffy, Jay Fluellen, Daniel Simpson, Shavon Norris, Youngmoo Kim, LiveConnections’ concert curator Mary Javian, and a singer from VOCES8.
Paul Smith (left) leads the audience in singing, while members of VOCES8 sing with partner choirs from Overbrook School for the Blind and Our Lady of Confidence Day School. [Images: Jaci Downs Photography]