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Music as an Invitation to Unity

So many images swirl through my head as I sit down to write to you today.

Joe Biden, the definition of elegance, with his message of unity, bravery, and compassion. “My whole soul is in this.” I feel it, absolutely.

Kamala Harris, royal, regal, her easy confidence inspiring generations of Americans of all backgrounds and colors and genders that, truly, anything is possible.

The Supreme Court justices, the past presidents and first ladies of all political affiliations, the spiritual leaders and countless other dignitaries, taking their part in this tradition that is as old as our nation itself.

I’m not gonna lie, I was bawling like a baby.

But you know who else I really want to talk about today?

Lady Gaga, reminding me of Betsy Ross in her giant red skirt and ribboned hair, utterly free with her voice, open-hearted and delighted to be using her incredible instrument as a conduit for celebration and joy.

Jennifer Lopez in elegant white, her voice clear and angelic, and bursting out in exuberant Spanish, “One nation, with liberty and justice for all,” singing on behalf of all Americans.

Garth Brooks in his cowboy hat and magnificent belt buckle, making a bold and beautiful choice to sing a cappella straight from the heart, inviting everyone there and at home to sing along (I did, did you?).

The Marine Band, grand, sweeping, traditional, epic, providing the perfect impeccable setting for these precious jewels to shine.

And inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, in her own words, “A skinny Black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother, who can dream of being president one day, only to find herself reciting for one.”

Could I have had the epic cry that I have been needing for the last four years without the music, without the poetry, pageantry, artistry? It gets me thinking. I imagine the inauguration without it. The inspirational speeches would still be there, but it is the music that lifts our hearts and our spirits.

In ceremonies of all kinds since the beginning of humankind, music is what connects the message to the depth of our beings, inviting us to more deeply and viscerally receive it. The words and their meaning ride on the music, into our ears, into our very core. In spite of ourselves, we smile, laugh, cry, grieve, celebrate. Music is an invitation to experience our humanity in its entirety, to allow ourselves to be fully touched and changed by what we hear, and to enter into this sacred space with others. Now that’s unity.

I was moved today to see musicians performing their sacred duty of helping human beings to feel their feelings, to celebrate their humanity, to come together in shared emotion. For me, this is what music is all about. Connection. Honesty. Vulnerability. Bravery and boldness.

I’ll leave you with a few lines from Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb.” In case you missed it (or even if you didn’t), follow the link at the bottom of this e-mail to watch Ms. Gorman reading the poem in its entirety on this inauguration day.

When day comes, we ask ourselves:

Where can we find light

In this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry, a sea we must wade.

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.

Somehow, we do it.

Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed

A nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.

I hope you have some time and space today to feel the beating of your heart and the rhythm of your breath, the reminders that we are here, we are human, we are alive. Regardless of whether or not your candidate won, may we all have a moment of human connection today, celebrating this beautiful, imperfect country of ours as we walk forward together, one step at a time. Somehow, we do it.

I love you guys.



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