During the height of mid-term season, I’m always looking for different ways to re-energize after long hours of readings and assignments. I’ve always turned to music as an outlet – a way to relax and take my mind off of work, academic obligations and deadlines. I was really excited to attend the Spirit Singers workshop this Monday as a way to shift my energy and unwind. The program is entitled “Spirit Singers: Social Justice Musical Workshop” and is described as a choral ensemble of students who explore and celebrate diversity, multi-cultural understanding and engage with social issues such as climate change and racism through the medium of song. This semester, the group meets on a Monday from 7 – 8 PM and I really enjoyed attending the event at this time because it was the perfect way to end a busy and stressful day.
This week, Kym Gouchie was a special guest and she led the session. Kym has ancestral roots in the Lheidli T’enneh, Cree and Secwépemc Nations and her music focuses on First Nations and women’s issues, particularly honoring the missing and murdered Indigenous women, promoting reconciliation and genuine community connection. Kym opened with a powerful assertion that what we all have in common, even now as we connect over Zoom, is our voices; voices that we can unify to sing together as we did on Monday night. Before we began singing, Kym played a steady tempo drum beat to bring us all onto the same vibration, connecting us with the internal beat of our body and grounding us. The drum beat was one of my favorite parts of the evening. Kym encouraged us to drum along with her on anything we had around us, even our own bodies, and this really helped me to connect with the music and become fully present in the moment by focusing on the rhythm and allowing external thoughts and stresses to slowly melt away with each beat.
There are no words that can truly describe the feeling of seeing everyone singing and drumming along with Kym but it really created the profound feeling of connection that she emphasizes as central to her craft. She sang a number of songs that are inspired by her own life experiences, events that we are all familiar with and have encountered in our own lives – death, anxiety – and I found these to be incredibly touching. They truly capture the dual essence of human existence –sorrow and joy, pain and pleasure- neither exists without the other and this is completely reflected in Kym’s music. My favorite song of the evening was “I will, I can and I am,” a mantra of self-affirmation that I found very inspiring, and something that I’m sure I will be carrying forward with me for the rest of my life.
I really enjoyed my experience at the Spirit Singers workshop this week. The music was so uplifting and energizing and Kym’s message and songs have touched me on a deeply spiritual level. I feel as though I have a greater appreciation for the experiences that life has to offer, living fully in each moment, from that one-hour session. I think it’s amazing that there are so many creative ways to engage with social and personal issues, and so inspiring how music can create such a feeling of unity and a truly inclusive space of togetherness. Spirit Singers is definitely an event I’ll be attending again!