We try to seek out companies, people, and movements that are bettering our world in a series we like to call The Ripple Effect. This time around, Jermaine Fletcher found a company called Sing For Hope based out of New York City and founded by two best friends who attended Juliard. This interview and story comes from two singers involved in this program and stresses the idea and importance of giving back. Take it away, Jermaine…
If we all have a gift in this life, what is that gift and how will we share it? Between life and death, we experience physical and mental roller coasters that challenge our health and sometimes require some healing. That brings us to the next question. In what form does healing exist?
Sing for Hope is an organization dedicated to using arts to uplift, unite and transform individuals and communities. Each Sing for Hope program is defined by the volunteer service of artist, the needs of the community and their belief in the transformative power of arts. Founded in 2006 by best friends Camille Zamora and Monica Yunus, the two shared a common belief in the power of volunteerism to transform underserved communities.
Of the numerous volunteers involved, a group of friends by the name of J Corinne choose to sing A capella at healthcare facilities any chance they get. Shalaine Adams and Victoria Edwards form this duet and combine over 30 years of experience with performance. At one time, Victoria says they were just looking for ways to give back and help others through music. During that search, she came across Sing for Hope online. When describing their sound she explains “We really sing everything and we just like good music. We’ll do a cover and it will sound nothing like the original and it’s fun for us.”
The Manifold: Describe the interaction and what it feels like when performing at various hospitals?
Shalaine Adams: Giving back is just a genuine feeling of positivity. There was one time when we sang “Fly Me to the Moon” for a woman and she burst into tears, as did we. The fact is music, no matter what language you speak and no matter what ailment you have, touches everyone. It was a magical moment
and it’s a gift that we know we’re suppose to give away.
Victoria Edwards: As I echo Shalaine it’s kind of funny because when you do have a gift, I think sometimes in life it’s easy to take it for granted. So when you are singing for someone who is going through an illness and they are overwhelmed because of it, it touches you. You walk away and just feel so good.
Sing for Hope has several programs dedicated to creating positive impacts. They provide youth outreach, healing arts health care and community arts.
Having great careers is wonderful but being able to feed your passion makes for an even greater life! Victoria says.
VE: I can’t even imagine not being able to sing. I actually had an issue for a while when I couldn’t. I developed vocal nodules at one point in college. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go through surgery but I did have to go through intense vocal therapy. Being on the verge of losing your gift is hard
and that brought me to tears many nights.
Everybody has a gift. People don’t realize it doesn’t have to be a skill. Whatever you’re great at you should tap into and that will tap into your passion. Some people are generous or helpful. That’s a gift too.
SA: Music genuinely can heal you. My grandfather just told me on his 90th birthday to always be happy and do what you love and if you do what you love, you’ll always be healthy.
Although the company’s title says “sing”, the organization is much more than that. Dancers are welcome, puppeteers, painters, makeup artist, pianist and many more. It seems that all forms of expression are allowed and utilized to make connections.
Music clearly makes both Shalaine and Victoria happy and it seems to bring them a greater joy in making others happy in the process. Their energy, positivity and chemistry with one another are elements that for us at The Manifold are inspirations in using our gifts.
Not all of us have money or tangible goods to donate and give to others but based on J Corrine’s efforts, we don’t need to. Our society tends to focus on entertainers, athletes, politics and just famous individuals overall. Sometimes, achievements are not even considered into one being well known. But what about all those who give their best efforts and love but never get recognized? Perhaps making a successful human connection is the most valuable asset we can ever share. Furthermore, that connection may be more healing for ourselves and others beyond our own imaginations.