12 hour Oakland Sing-a-long


"Because it feels good." That's the official slogan used to explain why folks are singing in a circle at the First Congregational Church of Oakland.

Circle singing is an improvised, spontaneous a cappella jam session. It's said the circles are as old as mankind and found worldwide. The Oakland vocal group SoVoSo provided a picture of a circle in Africa.

"You can just do it in the moment. Snap your finger and start, you just go. That's the beauty of it," said David Worm, from SoVoSo.

They'll go from noon until midnight Tuesday night, without stopping, to celebrate the New Year. Throughout the day people will drop-in or some just to listen others will enter the circle, like this woman who came on her lunch break.

"What do you take away?" asked ABC7's Carolyn Tyler.
"Just a little charge, that I got a little music into my day before sitting at my desk for the next four hours," said Nyaradzo Kundidzora, a singer.

This tradition began with vocalist Bobbi McFerrin years ago. For the past seven years the group SoVoSo has been in charge. The group calls the ritual Singing for Your Life.

"Being able to lead folks in song and improvise is really a metaphor for life because consistently you have to improvise in life," said Sunshine Becker, from SoVoSo.

You don't have to be a professional to join in. Everybody is welcome to give it a try and before the night is over, hundreds will.

"If you sing in the shower, maybe you sing when you think no one is listening, come," said Becker.

The East Bay organization Food Not Bombs will provide meals. Local artists have created altars throughout the church, but the highlight is the beautiful music, and a happy feeling that takes you into the New Year.

First Congregational Church of Oakland
2501 Harrison Street at 27th Street
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 444-8511

Church: www.firstoakland.org
Singing for Your Life event: www.circlesing.net
Directions: click here

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