Who, What, When, Where & Why - December 2006
Founder Sally Potter answers some common questions about the Mid-Winter Singing Festival

Were you surprised about the tremendous success of the first four Singing Festivals?

I knew that people loved to sing, but I had no idea they would continue to pack every Community Sing and workshop. People seemed so excited to have the opportunity to participate, to literally join the choir.

What’s new for the fifth Singing Festival?

On Friday night, Feb. 2, Tom Paxton will give a full-length concert at the Hannah Community Center Auditorium. Singing Festival favorite Pat Madden will be the opening act. Lyric books will not be distributed for this Friday concert. We have scheduled this concert to provide the opportunity for those ("I'm not singing in public") Paxton fans to be able to see him and hear his music. During the show, there might very well be some singing by folks in the audience, but the evening's format will be that of a concert.

What activities are being offered for kids?

There will be a FREE children’s show at 11 am. Also, children are invited to particiapte in all of the workshops.

All of the literature about the Festival calls the musicians song leaders rather than performers. Is that deliberate?

Yes. All of these musicians spend most of their musical lives performing, but at this Singing Festival, they are hired to lead people in singing great songs.

Song leading sounds easy, but it’s not. Song leaders at this Festival do a great job choosing interesting songs, presenting them enthusiastically and efficiently, and then giving the energy away to the room full of singers. These singers love and respect the power of song.

Is that why many of last year’s song leaders are returning?

Yes! Song leading is a skill. The more times musicians lead songs to large groups of people, the more song leading experience we have in our collective musical community.

Most of these song leaders live in Michigan. We know them. We love to sing with them. Each year, they share both new songs and old favorites with us. We look forward to sharing this music with them.

Who produces this Festival?

I have a lot of help from co-producers the Ten Pound Fiddle Coffeehouse and The City of East Lansing.

How is the City of East Lansing involved?

We are very lucky to have the City’s support. The City operates the Hannah Community Center, home to the Festival. The staff and facilities at Hannah are marvelous to work with.
The City has scheduled its first 2007 Children’s Concert within the structure of the Festival. Held at Hannah, kids and their families can attend that FREE show and continue to participate in the Festival’s other workshops all afternoon.

How is the Ten Pound Fiddle Coffeehouse involved?

The Fiddle really makes this Festival possible. For each Community Sing, Fiddle volunteers sell the tickets, sell song leaders’ CDs, and provide refreshments. During the day on Saturday they provide sound and recording capabilities for all 12 workshops, and sell CDs and Saturday Community Sing tickets in the banquet room. Prior to February, they use their extensive publicity channels to promote the Festival.

Recognizing the enthusiasm generated by the first two Singing Festivals, the Fiddle has scheduled two nights of singing within their Friday evening concert line-up. On Friday, Dec. 8, 2006 Mark Dvorak will lead Holiday and Winter songs. On March 23, 2007, Pat Madden will share some of her favorite selections.

How else is the Festival being promoted?

Kate Peterson, a wonderful singer and a Web shark, has continued to expand the Festival’s colorful and informative Web site.

Kate is also putting together the Festival program. Locally, copies of the program will be distributed to schools, churches, and arts organizations all over Lansing and Mid-Michigan.
Copies are also mailed to producers and directors of acoustic music events all over the country.

Can you see singing events all over the country?

I can see them, and I can hear them. My message to potential producers is that once people in your community discover that they are the ones singing and that their voices make the sound, they will come to this type of event in droves.

People want to sing together. They want to create and sustain shared experiences. At this Festival, folks feel connected, and that feels great!




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