Michael Holloway

Sing “Lean on Me” in Support of Health Care Workers

Record or livestream yourself singing 'Lean on Me' by Bill Withers, and use the hashtag #MKEsingalong

By - Apr 10th, 2020 04:59 pm


While quarantine has forced people to distance themselves from one another, music has become the universal language closing that distance.

In Italy, apartment residents took to their balconies to join in song with one another. In Chicago, citizens gathered (at a safe distance from one another) on balconies, porches and front lawns to sing Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” together.

Milwaukee is no exception — the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music has been leading weekly singalongs and asking Milwaukeeans to join in. This week’s song: “Lean on Me” by the late Bill Withers, who passed away on March 30 due to heart complications.

“It’s a perfect song because it has this perfect tone and it lets people know that they’re not in this alone,” says Karen Herzog, Director, Grants & Communication at Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.

The third weekly installment of the Conservatory’s singalong series will focus on showing support for health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual candlelight vigil will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 11. 88Nine Radio Milwaukee will air the Conservatory’s instrumental rendition of the song to coincide with this event.

“We’re a community music school and part of what we do is bring people together and lift them up through music, so it was natural for us to do this,” says Herzog. “We’ve been caring so much about everything that the health care workers are going through, so we thought here’s another gift that we could provide: support.”

To participate, grab a candle or a light (the one on your phone should work fine), pull up the lyrics (if you need them) and record yourself singing along. Whether you choose to livestream or record and upload your video to social media, the Conservatory is asking for participants to attach the #MKEsingalong hashtag to their posts. Footage uploaded using this hashtag will be compiled into a montage that will later be sent out to various hospitals.

The Conservatory’s rendition of “Lean on Me” was recorded by faculty members in their respective home studios. Teresa Drews (piano), Anna Rasmussen (violin), Mitch Shiner (percussion), Meaghan Heinrich (Oboe), Aaron Gardner (saxophone), Jennifer Rodriguez (flute), George Teague (cello) and Alec Burke (trumpet) all lent their talents to this track.

“We are so isolated that people turn to whatever gives them an outlet, and in the case of music, it has always brought people together,” says Herzog. “If you think about the ‘Rolling Requiem’ after 9/11, there are just so many examples of people coming together through music to show support.”

For more information on the Conservatory’s candlelight vigil, visit the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music website or check out the Facebook event.

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