“Song and singing brings people together and puts a smile on your face," says artist Brian Fouhy. "It uplifts you."
It was Fouhy’s idea to organize a citywide sing-along to "Lean on Me," by the late Bill Withers. The sing-along launched on March 30, the one-year anniversary of Withers’s passing, and will continue through April. It's designed to benefit musicians and other entertainment-industry workers hit hard by the pandemic — but you could be a beneficiary, too.
When Fouhy submitted the idea for the sing-along to Checking In, a mutual-aid platform for artists initiated by RedLine Contemporary Art Center, the nonprofit's executive director, Louise Martorano, immediately took interest. In addition to spreading a spirit of togetherness and helping others in a time of need, she saw the song as a vehicle for promoting the Colorado Music Relief Fund.
The last round of funding from the Colorado Music Relief Fund took place in January, when $60,000 was distributed in grants to musicians and music-industry workers. The fund has recently reopened for new applications, thanks to individual donations and proceeds generated from the sales of KBCO Studio C Volume 32, and they're earmarked for musicians and music-industry workers who've been affected by the pandemic.
“It’s not so much our buildings that matter — it’s more our relationships and how we get through this together,” Martorano sexplains.
The karaoke version of “Lean on Me” is available at the city sing-along website, which notes: “We all depend on the power of music in some way or another. Singing for each other is the least we can do to keep that spirit alive.” Beneath that short message is a link encouraging those who are able to donate to the Colorado Music Relief Fund.
You can upload videos of you and your friends singing “Lean on Me” on Instagram, tag RedLine Contemporary Art Center and add the hashtags #citysingalong, #comusicrelieffund and #checkingindenver. But this is more than a feel-good effort: The first 25 people to submit will each be given a $125 honorarium for participating.
“We have helped the city and the state get a lot of money out to musicians, venues, nonprofits and artists," notes Martorano. "So it’s wonderful to have this opportunity to realize that throughline that we’ve carried when it comes to relief efforts, and reach back out to all of our partners with this loving song of getting through this together.”