Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sing in the New Year

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Internationally, they’re known as “flash mobs,” and sometimes characterized as part of the “random acts of culture” movement.
Groups have sprung up (sometimes in disguise as cell phone addicts or cleaning personnel) to sing renditions of the “Hallelujah Chorus” in shopping malls, pop tunes with the Black Eyed Peas in Chicago, or show tunes in theater district neighborhoods.
Since we may have more talented singers and musicians per capita than most any place on the planet, I’d like to start encouraging some random acts of love-theme tunes anytime, anywhere — and especially during February for the Love of Art Month.
Frankly, despite some very impressive festivals and accomplishments, 2010 was sometimes kind of a touchy year for the arts community. There was more evidence of discontent, dissing, free-form crabbiness and grousing than I’ve ever seen here before, triggered, I suspect, by tough times, fear and short funding.
But don’t panic. Compare to other arts communities, we are still artistic goodwill heaven. Las Cruces is filled with enlightened souls who understand that art and artistic expression is not a luxury, but a necessity for personal — and societal — mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health and happiness.
As the Beatles informed us in 1967, all we need is love … and increasingly effective ways to generate some of the global attention we now rate.
Feel free to sing along with me now as you read this column. All you need is love … dut-dut-dut-dah-dut ……
Let’s get the performing artists in on this. We might even dub ourselves the burgeoning capital of “Glee” with the growing number of choirs and singing groups.
There are award-winning groups at area high schools and children’s groups featuring local elementary and middle school kids. NMSU’s choral department has added a gospel choir and smaller groups to its students’ and community choirs.
There are several thriving community singing groups specializing in everything from golden oldies to classical, patriotic and contemporary pop tunes. There are church choirs and mariachi groups with stunning solo and group vocalists.
There are individuals who put on one-person stage and cabaret shows that include original tunes, and tributes to icons such as Gilbert & Sullivan and Patsy Kline.
And all this is just the tip of the melodic iceberg. Experience has taught me that music runs in the DNA. For every talent warbling on stage, I figure, there must be anywhere from one to several dozen local relatives who are able to carry a tune, but maybe just have not had the time or opportunity.
If you need an excuse, February is the time and the place can be anywhere in the Mesilla Valley during For the Love of Art month, so start exercising those vocal chords and get ready. The good news is that music is the ultimate multitasking option. Whistle while you work. Sing in the shower. Shower with a friend and save water and develop duets. Start your favorite show tune in a supermarket line and see if you can recruit others to join in.
Sing in the office, at indoor and outdoor malls, in the hood when you’re walking your dog. Sing with the coyotes on desert full moon nights. At open mikes and jams around town. With street performers at the Farmers & Crafts Market.
Sing your favorite love songs. Need inspiration? Go to a handy list of love songs that topped the pop the charts, from Benny Goodman’s 1943 upbeat “Taking A Chance On Love” to the 2010 Drake hit “Find Your Love.”
It’s looking like 2011 could be the best ever for our burgeoning Las Cruces artistic community. All we need is love and talent, and we are blessed to have a lot of both, here in the City of the Crosses.
It’s something to sing about. Let’s get to it.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450

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