Why New Song?
A preacher once thundered, “I have a dream!” and the world has never been the same.
A former president defined an American decade by declaring, “we choose to go to the moon”, and eight years later, we did just that.
A researcher made her career studying shame, shared a TED talk in Houston on the power of vulnerability, and within years reshaped our entire conversation on connection, love, and belonging.
A 15-year-old Pakistani woman spoke out boldly in favor of educating girls and, in turn, was met with a gunshot to the left side of her head . . . two years and multiple surgeries later, she became the youngest Nobel laureate in history and now works to see young girls educated worldwide.
Voices are the real weapons of social change. Like rudders on ships and bits in horse’s mouths, voices give us our headings and even set our focus in new and exciting directions. Like sparks in a dense and dry wood, voices are catalysts, igniting flames and spreading fires until vast acreage of cultural landscapes are consumed by that one flame. Voices release sounds that evoke vision and provoke action.
A young woman I mentor recently asked me about New Song and - specifically - what sets us apart. It’s a valid question. After all, the Southern Tier is not lacking for solid music educators. Our local school music programs are staffed by highly competent and extremely devoted individuals, passionate about their art and even more so about the potential of imparting that passion to another generation. It is a noble motivation indeed to want to create lifelong learners of the arts. Creative expression puts us in touch with our best selves. And if we can learn to resonate - if only for a moment - with these best selves, can we not also learn to remain, perpetually, in that state of resonance?
New Song, however, is about a generation finding its VOICE. It is an entire people group that not only finds their best selves in artistic endeavor, but then discovers the inherent power within that best self to confront the cultural woes of our time and redesign a better future. Young people born after 2001 entered a world with terrorism at their doorstep, an opiate epidemic on the way, over 20 million of their peers trafficked around the globe, and the question of “how safe is my school?" Shall our gift to this generation be a shelter from the storms of life or a way to navigate through them? Do we teach them to create higher and thicker walls to keep the evil out or do we empower them with the tools and weapons to confront injustice and oppression? What if everything they need to reshape culture is already resident within them and it is actually our responsibility to recognize it and subsequently provide the appropriate venues for its discovery and amplification?
We’ll start with a chorus. A chorus will inspire hope. Hope begets influence. And influence . . . becomes a movement.