Musician Martha Wainwright invites Montrealers to another balcony singalong

"It does feel really good to express yourself through singing, but singing with other people is even more powerful," says the musician and owner of Mile End's Ursa café.

'It does feel good to express yourself through singing, but singing with other people is even more powerful'

Montrealers sing from their balconies

CBC News Montreal

1 year ago
Folk musician Martha Wainwright leads city in Leonard Cohen singalong 1:27

Just over a week after musician Martha Wainwright led a chorus of Montrealers singing Leonard Cohen's So Long Marianne, the famed local folk singer will be heading another sing-along Tuesday night.

The event is the second in an series co-organized by POP Montreal and Wainwright's Mile End café and music venue, Ursa.

"The idea was to get a little bit closer to the city and to our neighbours and to really share our music, which is so essential," Wainwright said in a phone interview on Monday.

Inspired by similar initiatives in Italy and around the world, the goal is to encourage people to head out onto their balconies or porches, or crack open their windows and sing along to music performed by a local musician, from afar.

The musicians, out on their own balconies, will livestream their performance so that people can follow along in real time.

POP Montreal's creative director, Dan Seligman, approached Wainwright after seeing a small concert she'd livestreamed on her own.

He stressed that participants should not be congregating in groups and should be following physical-distancing protocols as they sing.

"I think it's important to still be able to communicate and have some sort of collective engagement beyond your screen," said Seligman. "This is the idea of singing out of your window or on your balcony."

"We didn't quite expect it to take off as huge as it did," said Seligman, of Wainwright's March 22 performance.

Neil Young's Old Man, more in the repertoire

"When I did my first concert alone, I was sort of amazed at how good it felt to just focus on music for 25 minutes," said Wainwright.

"It does feel good to really express yourself through singing, but singing with other people is even more powerful."

On Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wainwright will sing So Long Marianne, followed by Neil Young's Old Man.

Her performance will be followed by an intermission so that Wainwright can leave the space and disinfect all surfaces.

Local musician Clerel will then take over with a microphone of his own, ensuring all public-health directives are followed. He will sing Nothing Can Change This Love by Sam Cooke, as well as Et Si Tu N'existais Pas by Joe Dassin.

Wainwright will close the evening with one of her original songs.

Seligman hopes to have a different musician leading the sing-along each week. The exact day and time of each one will depend on the weather and will be announced on their Facebook page a few days in advance.

"I think people have all kinds of concerns and anxiety and worries, and so being able to listen to music or to perform music is a way to raise people's spirits and bring some hope," said Seligman.

Every week, the sing-along will feature one cover song in English and one in French.

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