Community karaoke connects Macon, Ga., residents

Communities / Article

Macon resident Darryl D opted to dance instead of sing during a recent karaoke event sponsored by the Macon Chapter of the League of Creative Interventionists. Photo by Molly McWilliams Wilkins

If you were in downtown Macon, Ga., on Friday, May 30, you likely heard the sounds of some colorful, if not outright off-key, singing. The Macon Chapter of the League of Creative Interventionists held a public karaoke event in Third Street Park. While some watched from a distance, others jumped right in with singing and dance.

The evening wasn’t just about music, however; it was about connecting people. The League of Creative Interventionists, an international network that aims to help break down barriers within communities, celebrates the same theme globally each month. For the month of May, the theme was “music,” especially appropriate for Macon, which has birthed the careers of Otis Redding, Little Richard, the Allman Brothers, and more recently Jason Aldean.

With the support of Knight Foundation, artist Hunter Franks, founder of the league, recently launched the Macon chapter as part of a series of visits to Knight communities that will continue into late summer.

“What I love about this [karaoke] event is it’s Macon at it’s best, said Jonathan Dye, communications director at the Macon Art Alliance.  “It’s people from every walk of life dancing, singing and having a good time together.”

One of the more colorful participants, in both sight and dance Friday night, was one Darryl D—as he asked to be called—in bright yellow clothing. He refused to sing, however, because there was no Michael Jackson available. His enthusiastic dancing made up for the lack of vocals.

“I think the great part of Macon that we found, is that it’s maybe two calls at most to get to the right person,” said Mark Vanderhoek, leader of the league’s Macon chapter. “So we made a couple of calls to the city and to [the College Hill Alliance] and we ended up with the stage, sound system, tent, all of that. The great part of Macon is just the closeness and interconnections that we have that make it so easy to do this.”

JR Olive, program coordinator for the College Hill Alliance, said the event was an ideal way to bring people together.

“People always bond over music … and karaoke is a classic way of getting people to lose their inhibition and to talk and to get people out on the streets.”

The Macon League of Creative Interventionists plans to meet June 8 to brainstorm for the June theme activities. The location will be announced on the league’s Facebook page.

 Vanderhoek says that June’s theme will be “ slow, slowing things down, like writing letters to a neighbor, having a party where everyone has to check their phone at the door.”

Molly McWilliams Wilkins is a Macon, Ga.,-based freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter: @MakeItWorkMolly.