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Sing out and join Downtown Beats, a casual chorus

By Pam Everhardt Bloom

Rowan Public Library

Helen Keller said it beautifully, “Alone we can do little; together we can do so much.” The arrival of 2017 is an opportunity to continue to build community in Rowan County. To this effort, Rowan Public Library offers an opportunity to come together on a positive note.

Monday, Jan. 30, from 6-7 p.m., RPL will host the debut of Downtown Beats, Rowan’s new impromptu chorus. Here’s the hitch — this isn’t one of our Community Concerts. We all can be part of this chorus. There is no need for talent, no need for commitment and definitely no charge.

Expect to arrive at 6 p.m. for a short practice of two songs, “With a Little Help from My Friends” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers. The evening will culminate with the final performance being videoed. The chorus performance will be released on Rowan Public Library’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. Downtown Beats will meet once a month on the last Monday, January through April.

Why sing at all and why sing with a group? Music can connect us in ways our neighborhoods do not. Standing side by side with a member of your community and smiling and laughing for an hour might just transform some of our perceptions of those neighbors we don’t yet know.

Most of us have anecdotal evidence of how music can soothe, energize and connect. If you need more definitive evidence to convince yourself or to encourage friends to join you, check out the following from Rowan Public Library:

“Singing in the Rain,” “Sister Act” and other musicals often bring a tune and a smile to our lips. Two award-winning movies possibly overlooked, “Young @ Heart” and “The Chorus = Les Choristes” tell stories of the restorative magic of song.

“Young @ Heart” depicts a chorus formed in 1982 consisting of senior residents of a housing project in Northampton, Mass., with musical choices from James Brown to Coldplay. The chorus has continued for 30 years and new members, ages 73-89, are still singing and performing.

“The Chorus = Les Choristes,” portrays how music can bring hope and inspiration to a home for troubled boys. Nominated for two Academy Awards, this film may be one you never forget.

Content to sing in your car or shower? “Imperfect Harmony, Finding Happiness Singing with Others” by Stacy Horn may convince you to give Downtown Beats a try. The author prefaces her story of the history and science of choirs with these thoughts on singing, “I become temporarily suspended in a world where everything bad is bearable, and everything good feels possible. Don’t cry, sing.”

Daniel J. Levition continues the science connection with “The World in Six Songs, How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature,” while Donna S. Davenport portrays the memory of song with her haunting memoir, “Singing Mother Home, A Psychologist’s Journey through Anticipatory Grief.”

Should you be more interested in the mechanics of a working chorus or the popularity of the pop song, “How Can We Keep from Singing, Music and the Passionate Life,” by Joan Oliver Goldsmith, and “The Song Machine, Inside the Hit Factory,” by John Seabrook, may be among your next books to borrow from the library.

Still undecided? Ponder this line from Mitch Albom’s “Tuesdays with Morrie,” “Devote yourself to your community around you and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” Come build community with Rowan County’s new impromptu chorus Downtown Beats. Together we can find the right notes.

 On a final note, Bebe Moore Campbell’s novel, “Singing in the Comeback Choir,” is my next read. One review promises that her intricate rousing harmonies of gospel music may make you want to shout “Amen!” This book promises a story of family and community, hope and faith.

Chapter Chats Book Club: A weekly club for teens 14-17, primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, but all are welcome. Meets at East branch meeting room, Tuesdays, 5 p.m. For more information, contact Tammie Foster at 704-216-7842.

Anime Club: Teens and college-age adults (21 and under) may watch anime and engage in Japanese-themed crafts and games. Headquarters, Feb. 7, 4:30 p.m.

Teen Advisory Board: Teens who join this board provide input on RPL’s teen programming and book selection and discuss current events and issues of interest. Members can count their hours of participation toward school community service requirements. East, Feb. 13, 6:30 p.m.; headquarters, Feb. 28, 4:30 p.m.; South, Feb. 2, 4:30 p.m.

Teen program: Join us each month as teens play games, make crafts and do activities related to a specific theme. February is the Chocolate Festival, and March is the MuV Chat. Headquarters, Feb. 21, 4:30 p.m.; East, Feb. 27, 6:30 p.m.; South, Feb. 16, 4:30 p.m.

“Dr. Who” Days: Travel through time and space with screenings of the classic BBC program, “Dr. Who.” Families are invited. Headquarters, Feb. 14, 4:30 p.m.

Monday early matinee: “Finding Dory,” East branch, Jan. 30, 11 a.m. Join in on Dory’s adventures as she searches for her biological family, and as Marlin and Dory search for her. This 2016, rated-PG film has a runtime of 97 minutes. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free, open to the public, and all ages are welcome.

Monday late matinee: “Finding Nemo,” East branch, Jan. 30, 3:30 p.m., Tag along as Marlin and Dory search for Nemo. This 2003, rated-G film has a runtime of 100 minutes. Light refreshments; open to the public; all ages are welcome.

Movie night at East: “Finding Dory,” 5:30 p.m., East branch. Light refreshments; open to the public;  all ages are welcome.

Maker Mondays: Jan. 30, 6-7 p.m., headquarters. See the RPL Cooperative Lab’s 3D printer in action. Learn about the process from start to finish, and witness how a 3D printer can make ideas reality.

Book Bites book club: Jan. 31, 6-7 p.m., South Rowan regional. Free, open to the public. We discuss a different book each month and serve refreshments loosely related to the theme. This month’s book is “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich. Need a copy? Call 704-216-7731.

Friends of RPL and Cheerwine Concert Series: Castlebay, Jan. 31, 7 p.m., headquarters. Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee of Castlebay are back. Their concerts feature poignant ballads sung in Lane’s soprano and Gosbee’s rich baritone interspersed with dance tunes on Celtic harp, guitar, fiddle and tin whistle. Castlebay treats the audience to a musical journey through time and across the Atlantic. Doors open at 6:30 pm. This event is free, open to the public, and all ages are welcome.

Lego free play: Feb. 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., headquarters. The library’s Lego collection will be available for free play for children.

Displays: Headquarters, West Rowan High School student art classes and Lee Street theatre; East, cross stitch; South, South Rowan High School student artwork.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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