Abolitionist songs, bells, & more…

I’ve been in Barnard Castle in the UK with my true love David Wallace-Lawrence since mid-November. I’m keeping active musically and am excited about some new projects!

During this time rife with efforts to deny difficult history, I’m delving into historical songs of the movement to abolish slavery. As with songs of the women’s suffrage movement and many other campaigns, new words for the cause were often set to familiar tunes. I’m working my way through The Anti-Slavery Harp (Boston, 1848), mating the abolitionist lyrics with piano arrangements from sheet music of the era. This songster was compiled by noted author William Wells Brown, himself then a fugitive slave.

My interest in musical traditions and the happy accident of proximity has led me to another new pursuit, quite different from my typical solo work with fretless zithers and other instruments. Living as we do right next to St. Mary’s Parish Church with its tower of eight bells, we regularly hear the thrilling sounds of live change ringing. I made some inquiries and now have the privilege and joy of learning to ring!

In addition to these undertakings, I continue to provide music for faith communities, playing for Zoom worship offered by the Maine Seacoast Mission to the communities of the outer islands of Maine. I also play for the online Dances of Universal Peace at Portland, Maine, which pair chants from world spiritual traditions with simple dance movements.

To keep my hand in activities aligned with my US-based musical work in nursing homes, I attend Music and Memories sessions at local dementia support groups. I’m loving learning vintage British popular songs!