Archive | December 12, 2016

Rumba for Fidel: Cubans Celebrate Music, Culture and Revolution*

Rumba for Fidel: Cubans Celebrate Music, Culture and Revolution*

A couple dances to rumba music during an event dedicated to late Cuban President Fidel Castro in Havana, Dec. 11, 2016. | Photo: EFE


Cuban rumba has roots in African culture and historically has developed in some of the island’s poorest and most marginalized neighborhoods.

Cuban rumba performers dedicated a day of music and dance Sunday to late Cuban President Fidel Castro as they celebrated the recent announcement that rumba, one of the country’s most iconic musical genres, has been added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

“Rumba for Fidel,” as the Sunday’s events were dubbed, brought together stars of Cuban rumba in the capital city Havana, while other events in other cities also echoed the celebrations on smaller stages.

Amid singing, drumming and dancing, rumba artists also commemorated Fidel Castro’s legacy, which they said included a revolution of the concept of cultural policy on the island in the early years after the fall of the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

The celebration of Cuban rumba, which has its deepest roots in African culture and has historically developed in some of the island’s poorest neighborhoods, comes after UNESCO declared the traditional music part of the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during a meeting in Ethiopia on Nov. 30.

UNESCO recognized Cuban rumba as an expression of “self-esteem and resistance,” especially for a “marginal layer of Cuban society and identity,” that fuses the traditional and contemporary in a genre built on “verbal and nonverbal” heritage.

“The dances and chants evoke a sense of grace, sensuality and joy that aims to connect people, regardless of their social and economic background, gender or ethnicity,” explains UNESCO.

“The practice of rumba in Cuba has been transmitted over generations by imitation within families and neighborhoods.”

The UNESCO announcement on Nov. 30 came while Cuba observed nine days of official mourning for the former president and as his ashes traveled across the country from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, where his remains were interred alongside national heroes.

Fidel Castro was particularly popular among Afro-Cubans, who greatly benefited from his advances in universal education, health care and the reduction of extreme poverty.



Related Topics:

Revolutionary Icon Fidel Castro Dies Aged 90*

Cuba Rejects U.S.-Style Neo-liberalism*

A Year of Achievement for Cuban Healthcare*

Cuba Ready to Provide All Needed Medicines for Syria*

Cuba Has Officially Eradicated HIV Transmission to Babies*

Cuba Achieved Food Security without Destroying Its Environment*

Ongoing U.S. Blockade on Cuba Is Genocidal*

Black Music is Resistance on Brazil’s Black Consciousness Day*

U.S. Congress Passes Restrictions on Trade and Travel to Cuba*

No Cheap Cuban Lung Cancer Vaccine For U.S. and Europe*

The Cuban Five are Free After 16 years Wrongful Imprisonment*

US Firms Claim Compensation for Nationalized Property in Cuba from Colonization*



Finally $170M to Help Clean Up the Mess State of Michigan Created in Flint*

Finally $170M to Help Clean Up the Mess State of Michigan Created in Flint*

By Tanasia Kenney

After much anticipation, the U.S. Senate on Saturday passed a critical piece of legislation providing $170 million in much-needed federal aid to Flint, Michigan, and other cities in the country affected by lead contamination.

According to a Congressional press release provided to Atlanta Black Star, the bipartisan agreement, known as the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act will provide access to $100 million in funding to help repair Flint’s drinking water system; $20 million to activate $200 million in low-interest loans to enhance water infrastructure in communities in Michigan and across the country; and $50 million to address the health care needs of children affected by lead exposure.

Moreover, the WIIN Act would give the state of Michigan authority to forgive $20 million in past drinking water loans to Flint and would require that the EPA warn the public within 24 hours of increased lead levels in drinking water if a state fails to do so first.

“This is a very long, hard-fought victory,” Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow said in a statement.

“This agreement achieves what we set out to accomplish from the beginning — pass urgently needed funding to help repair and replace drinking water infrastructure in Flint and other communities, and address the health care needs of children and families.”

“The people of Flint have waited far too long throughout this terrible crisis for their water system to be fixed,” Stabenow added.

“It is also past time for the state of Michigan to do everything in its power to meet its responsibilities to help the city recover from the water crisis.”

The new legislation, which passed the Senate 78-21, closely mirrors a similar bill approved back in September that would provide $220 million in federal funding to repair Flint’s lead-stricken drinking water infrastructure. The bill also contained aid to implement special programs aimed at helping communities reduce lead in drinking water systems and another $100 million to authorize lead testing at schools and child care facilities, according to Atlanta Black Star.

The bipartisan bill, passed in the wee hours of Saturday morning, a press secretary told ABS, would specifically provide $30 million to two different federal programs aimed at funding efforts to address the short- and long-term effects of lead poisoning, the press release stated. In addition, the legislation would provide help to pregnant women and new mothers and educate them on the dangers of lead exposure.

It’s been over two years since Michigan officials decided to switch its water supply from Lake Huron to the highly polluted Flint River, causing lead from old water pipes to leach into Flint’s water system. To this day, city residents are still forced to rely on home water filters and bottled water for everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning and bathing.

Sen. Gary Peters noted that while the responsibility of giving long-term support to affected families in Flint primarily lies with the state of Michigan, city residents have waited far too long for federal assistance.

“For nearly a year, Senator Stabenow, Congressman [Dan] Kildee and I have fought to secure emergency assistance while many families in Flint are still living on bottled water and dealing with the negative health effects of this tragedy,” said Peters, who also helped champion the WIIN Act. “I am pleased that Congress has finally followed through on the promise made to Flint residents and approved funding to help the city of Flint replace its lead-tainted pipes.”

In addition to funding for Flint, the bill also contained a last-minute provision providing drought relief in California. Earlier this month, environmentalists expressed concern that the added measure would jeopardize funding for lead-stricken Flint.

According to The Detroit News, California Sen. Barbara Boxer vehemently opposed the bill — a bill she helped write — calling it “ridiculous.”

“You take a beautiful bill like [the Water Development Resources Act] … and then you put a pile of dirt on top of it … and then you stick a little Maraschino cherry on top, which is Flint and a couple of other good things,” Boxer said on the Senate floor Friday before the time-sensitive water bill was passed. “And then you say, ‘OK, eat the dirt.’”

Despite that small bump in the road, passage of the WIIN Act early Saturday gave Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and other supporters of repairing the city’s water crisis good reason to celebrate.

“Although we have waited far longer for this help than expected, we are grateful to the Senate and the House for providing the assistance that will help Flint residents deal with this unprecedented health crisis and gain a brighter future,” Weaver said in a statement.


Related Topics:

Veterans Who Supported DAPL Protestors Are on their Way to Flint*

Six More Charged in Flint Water Crisis*

Students Give Bottled Water to Senior Citizens in Flint, Michigan*

Activists from all Over the U.S. Deliver Aid to Flint*

Flint Mayor Tried To Funnel Water Crisis Funds To Her Campaign*

Two People Involved in Flint Water Investigation Found Dead*

Three Officials Charged With Evidence Tampering in Flint Water Crisis*

Flint Tax Payers to foot Gov. Synder’s $500,000 Attorney’s Fee*

U.S. Continues to Poison the People of Flint*

Black Entertainers Raise over $100,000 in #JusticeForFlint, an Oscars Alternative*

300 Plumbers Volunteer to Help Flint’s Most Vulnerable Residents for Free*

Flint State Employees Were Given Clean Water a Year Ago*

House Passes Bill Allowing Americans to Be Tracked Via Microchips*

House Passes Bill Allowing Americans to Be Tracked Via Microchips*

By Sean Adl-Tabatabai

The House of Representatives passed an Orwellian bill on Thursday allowing for the routine tracking of American citizens via microchips.

H.R. 4919 (also known as Kevin and Avonte’s Law) which passed with an overwhelming 346 to 66 majority, allows authorities to create, establish and operate “locative tracking technology programs.” reports:

The programs mission would to find “individuals with forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, or children with developmental disabilities, such as autism, who have wandered from safe environments.”

Additionally, the bill would also require the attorney general to consult with the secretary of health and human services and other health organizations to come up with best practices for the tracking devices.


While advocates of the legislation — like Texas Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith — point to tragedies that could be averted by law enforcement using such technology to find those with mental disabilities who wander into dangerous circumstances, others, like Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, say the good intentions of the bill could be broadly interpreted.

“While this initiative may have noble intentions, ‘small and temporary’ programs in the name of safety and security often evolve into permanent and enlarged bureaucracies that infringe on the American people’s freedoms. That is exactly what we have here. A safety problem exists for people with Alzheimer’s, autism and other mental health issues, so the fix, we are told, is to have the Department of Justice, start a tracking program so we can use some device or method to track these individuals 24/7,” Gohmert said in his floor speech.

He later went on to say, “Sponsors of the bill tell us not to worry, because they got language in there that says the tracking device cannot be invasive, it is totally voluntary AND it is only a couple of million dollars to get it started –so it is not all that much money.”

Gohmert explained, “It is absolutely staggering that the Republican majorities in the House and Senate could be so blind to government overreach that they would allow a federal tracking program, not for criminals in the U.S., not for terrorists, not for illegal immigrants or even immigrants who commit crimes, but for people with ‘developmental disabilities’ a term that is subject to wide misinterpretation. The Senate Republican leaders even brought it to the floor with almost no one there and asked that the new Big Brother program be passed without even having a vote at all – someone just asks for ‘unanimous consent.’ Since no one is advised about the bill being brought up, no one who would object knows to be there, so it passes without anyone ever actually voting for it.”

Rep. Smith, the bill’s main sponsor, however, argued in a press release following the passage of the legislation that the bill will fill a great unmet need, particularly in the autism community—since 2011, over 100 individuals with autism lost their lives after wandering from a safe environment,” said Smith. “Time and training are of the essence when individuals wander and Kevin and Avonte’s Law can help equip local law enforcement with the training and technology to bring these children home safely.”


Related Topics:

Forced Psychiatric Treatments Expanded under Fast Track Bill Before Senate*

Toy Dolls are Recording Your Conversations and Uploading them to Police*

U.S. Govt Exposed for Forcing Foster Kids, Even Toddlers to Take Dangerous Psychotropic Drugs*

The Psychic Roots of Tyranny*

NYPD a Law unto Themselves Forces Photographer Shaun Thomas into a Psych Ward Again*

Arrested and Held in Psych Ward Because Cops Didn’t Believe as a Black Woman She Owns BMW*

NWO: Nonconformity and Freethinking Now Classified as Mental Illnesses*


U.S. Claim of Killing 50,000 ISIS Terrorists ‘Fairytale’ says Ex Diplomat*

U.S. Claim of Killing 50,000 ISIS Terrorists ‘Fairytale’ says Ex Diplomat*

By Carol Adl

The U.S. government’s claim of killing thousands of terrorists in the fight against ISIS is the “stuff of fairy tales” and far removed from reality, according to former American diplomat, J. Michael Springmann.

Springmann, who had been a high-ranking U.S. diplomat in Saudi Arabia, made his remarks after a senior American military official said that the US-led coalition conducting airstrikes in Iraq and Syria had killed terrorists in the two countries since 2014.

Press TV reports:

The latest assessment by the unidentified official even exceeded the 45,000 estimate announced in August by Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, who commands the so-called coalition forces.

The Pentagon has yet to specify how it has arrived at such assessments.

This “is stuff of fairy tales,” Springmann said.

“It is pure American military nonsense.”

The American military has been playing games with numbers of enemy soldiers or civilians killed for three quarters of a century,” he said.

Noting that such practices dated back to the Second World War and continued through the Vietnam War, Springmann argued that the statistics provided by the U.S. government are fabricated and differ from reality.

“How do they know? What figures do they put forward? What proof do they have? They [those who were killed do not have Daesh written on their forehead or something,” he explained.

“This is pure speculation, pure imagination,” he said, adding that the time has come for the world to challenge these numbers and ask Washington for proof.

The American commander’s remarks came at a time when Washington and its allies were under fire for targeting hundreds of Iraqi and Syrian forces in what they call unintentional errors.

Only on Friday, over 90 Iraqi soldiers perished when U.S. war planes bombed their positions near Mosul as government and volunteer forces were battling to flush Daesh terrorists out of the major northern city. Some 100 more Iraqi troops were also wounded in the so-called friendly-fire attack.


Related Topics:

$17k per Month for Journalists Could Have Spent on the NHS was used for Fake News on Syria*

Israelis Trafficking in Syrian Children’s Body Organs*

Syrian Army Takes Control of 93% of Aleppo’s Territory*

Russian Air Force Purges ISIS Forces near Palmyra*

In Aleppo 4 Al-Qaeda Chiefs arrested; 1,000 Terrorists Surrender, and 50,000 Civilians Freed*

George W. Bush on Trial for “Crimes of Aggression” Against Iraq*

Russia and China Veto Phony Aleppo Ceasefire U.N. Security Council Resolution*

Syria Raps U.N.’s Security Council for Meeting in Support of Terrorists*

U.K. Ambassador “I’ve met the person who leaked them [Podesta emails]…not Russian and it’s an insider”*

San Francisco Judges Dismiss 66,000 Arrest Warrants against the Homeless*

San Francisco Judges Dismiss 66,000 Arrest Warrants against the Homeless*

By Whitney Web

Homeless people rest in the Skid Row section of Los Angeles, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016.


The United States, despite often advertising itself as the world’s “most developed” nation, has a major problem with homelessness, with approximately 3.5 million currently living with no place to call home. Even though vacant houses outnumber the nation’s homeless by more than five to one, most of them end up sleeping in public places or out in the street. In cities around the country, the homeless are frequently criminalized as are those who offer them food and other forms of human kindness. Despite the widespread maltreatment of the homeless, judges in San Francisco have been dismissing thousands upon thousands of arrest warrants targeting the homeless because “it was the right thing to do.”

Many of these arrest warrants were for so-called “quality of life” crimes, which include sleeping on sidewalks or public places, urinating in public, and public drunkenness. The vast majority of these infractions are punishable only by fines, which the homeless obviously cannot afford. In years prior, those who failed to show up in court or were unable to pay the fines were issued arrest warrants carrying a sentence of five days in jail or longer depending on the fine’s amount.

Just within the past year, this inhuman precedent changed for the better when San Francisco Superior Court judges stopped issuing arrest warrants for these “quality of life” crimes. Not only that, but the judges also threw out over 66,000 arrest warrants that had been issued since January 2011. Though the San Francisco’s police union and some private citizens strongly protested and criticized the decision, the city’s chief judge, John Stewart, defended the judges’ actions to the press this past week. Stewart said, “you’re putting somebody in jail because they’re poor and can’t pay a fine. We got a lot of criticism, but we thought it was the right thing to do.”

San Francisco has a major problem with homelessness, with approximately 7,000 people living on the street. A significant part of this high homeless population has been due to the explosion of gentrification that has forced out low-income residents and small businesses across the city. Gentrification, defined as the process by which an influx of more affluent residents results in increased property values and the displacement of lower-income families, became a major issue in San Francisco around the same time that many tech companies began choosing to locate their businesses in the city over nearby “Silicon Valley.” The influx of wealthy tech employees has forced out thousands of families that have lived in San Francisco for generations, all because they can no longer pay the rent. Those San Francisco residents who couldn’t afford to leave became homeless. San Francisco now has the most expensive rent in the entire country as the average one-bedroom apartment now costs $3,530 a month. Though the city’s judges have shown great compassion in dismissing the cases against the city’s homeless, it will take much more for the problem of the San Francisco’s epidemic of homelessness to disappear.


Related Topics:

So ‘no one eats alone’ Muslim-owned Restaurant Offering Elderly and Homeless Free Meals on Christmas Day*

A Former Street Child in Mumbai Builds a Cafe-Cum-Library for Homeless Youth*

‘The Helping Lunchbox’ has helped feed over 200 homeless citizens in the New Orleans

Homeless Are Being Abducted and Put into FEMA Camps*

Israel Destroys Entire Village, Leaving Children Homeless*

U.K. Cities Begin Opening Empty Buildings for Homeless*

Homeless People Plant a Rooftop Organic Garden and Feed an Entire Shelter*

Woman Cites Religious Freedom Law to Defend Her Right to Feed the Homeless*

Last $5 and Homeless Man Gave it to a Girl So She Could Get Home Safely*

U.K. Ambassador “I’ve met the person who leaked them [Podesta emails]…not Russian and it’s an insider”*

U.K. Ambassador “I’ve met the person who leaked them [Podesta emails]…not Russian and it’s an insider”*

By Alex Christoforou

The irony is that the CIA is accusing another country of interfering with local elections.

The Duran posted yesterday that “those who are actually in a position to know and whose record of truthfulness is beyond doubt confirm that the DNC and Podesta leaks were not done by Russia.”

This diverges greatly from the CIA’s assessment that the hack was carried out by Russia, citing “anonymous sources”.

The Duran wrote

Craig Murray, Britain’s former ambassador to Russia and a close friend of Julian Assange, has now confirmed that he knows the identity of the person who leaked the DNC and Podesta leaks to Wikileaks, and that this person is not Russian and has no connection to the Russian government.

On the contrary, he is a Washington insider.

Craig Murray has moreover told the Guardian that he has actually met with this person.

Anyone wanting to know more of what Craig Murray is saying should read his statement on his blog. Indeed it should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in the truth of this affair.

In an interview with Sputnik News today, Murray noted…

“They plainly have no idea what’s happening or they would be taking action against people. So the CIA is simply lying about knowing what’s happening and knowing who the people are. They don’t know, if they knew they would act.”

Murray made the point that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has declined to support the CIA’s allegation that a hack took place, as well as pointing out the obvious irony at play…mainly that the CIA is accusing another country of interfering with local elections…

“The FBI has rather more integrity. It’s a domestic law enforcement agency and putting out total lies is not in the normal FBI playbook. I’m not saying it’s never happened, but it’s not normally how it operates whereas of course, lies and deceit are stock-in-trade for the CIA.”

“It is extremely amusing for the CIA to be accusing another country of interfering in domestic elections, when interfering in other country’s domestic elections on scores of occasions is what the CIA has done to effect regime change for the last 70 years so really; this is almost beyond satire.”

Today Zerohedge posted another article authored by Craig Murray, which once again states that the U.S. election hack had absolutely no connection to Russia, and was indeed an inside job.

I have watched incredulous as the CIA’s blatant lie has grown and grown as a media story – blatant because the CIA has made no attempt whatsoever to substantiate it. There is no Russian involvement in the leaks of emails showing Clinton’s corruption. Yes this rubbish has been the lead today in the Washington Post in the U.S. and the Guardian here, and was the lead item on the BBC main news. I suspect it is leading the American broadcasts also.

A little simple logic demolishes the CIA’s claims. The CIA claim they “know the individuals” involved. Yet under Obama the USA has been absolutely ruthless in its persecution of whistleblowers, and its pursuit of foreign hackers through extradition. We are supposed to believe that in the most vital instance imaginable, an attempt by a foreign power to destabilise a U.S. election, even though the CIA knows who the individuals are, nobody is going to be arrested or extradited, or (if in Russia) made subject to yet more banking and other restrictions against Russian individuals? Plainly it stinks. The anonymous source claims of “We know who it was, it was the Russians” are beneath contempt.

As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks – there is a major difference between the two. And it should be said again and again, that if Hillary Clinton had not connived with the DNC to fix the primary schedule to disadvantage Bernie, if she had not received advance notice of live debate questions to use against Bernie, if she had not accepted massive donations to the Clinton foundation and family members in return for foreign policy influence, if she had not failed to distance herself from some very weird and troubling people, then none of this would have happened.

The continued ability of the mainstream media to claim the leaks lost Clinton the election because of “Russia”, while still never acknowledging the truths the leaks reveal, is Kafkaesque.

I had a call from a Guardian journalist this afternoon. The astonishing result was that for three hours, an article was accessible through the Guardian front page which actually included the truth among the CIA hype:


The Kremlin has rejected the hacking accusations, while the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has previously said the DNC leaks were not linked to Russia. A second senior official cited by the Washington Post conceded that intelligence agencies did not have specific proof that the Kremlin was “directing” the hackers, who were said to be one step removed from the Russian government.

Craig Murray, the former U.K. ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, called the CIA claims “bullshit”, adding: “They are absolutely making it up.”

“I know who leaked them,” Murray said.

“I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.

“If what the CIA are saying is true, and the CIA’s statement refers to people who are known to be linked to the Russian state, they would have arrested someone if it was someone inside the United States.

“America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. They plainly have no knowledge whatsoever.”


But only three hours. While the article was not taken down, the home page links to it vanished and it was replaced by a ludicrous one repeating the mad CIA allegations against Russia and now claiming – incredibly – that the CIA believe the FBI is deliberately blocking the information on Russian collusion. Presumably this totally nutty theory, that Putin is somehow now controlling the FBI, is meant to answer my obvious objection that, if the CIA know who it is, why haven’t they arrested somebody. That bit of course would be the job of the FBI, who those desperate to annul the election now wish us to believe are the KGB.

It is terrible that the prime conduit for this paranoid nonsense is a once great newspaper, the Washington Post, which far from investigating executive power, now is a sounding board for totally evidence free anonymous source briefing of utter bullshit from the executive.

In the U.K., one single article sums up the total abnegation of all journalistic standards. The truly execrable Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian writes

“Few credible sources doubt that Russia was behind the hacking of internal Democratic party emails, whose release by Julian Assange was timed to cause maximum pain to Hillary Clinton and pleasure for Trump.”

Does he produce any evidence at all for this assertion? No, none whatsoever. What does a journalist mean by a “credible source”? Well, any journalist worth their salt in considering the credibility of a source will first consider access. Do they credibly have access to the information they claim to have?

Now both Julian Assange and I have stated definitively the leak does not come from Russia. Do we credibly have access? Yes, very obviously. Very, very few people can be said to definitely have access to the source of the leak. The people saying it is not Russia are those who do have access. After access, you consider truthfulness. Do Julian Assange and I have a reputation for truthfulness? Well in 10 years not one of the tens of thousands of documents WikiLeaks has released has had its authenticity successfully challenged. As for me, I have a reputation for inconvenient truth telling.

Contrast this to the “credible sources” Freedland relies on. What access do they have to the whistleblower? Zero. They have not the faintest idea who the whistleblower is. Otherwise they would have arrested them. What reputation do they have for truthfulness? It’s the Clinton gang and the US government, for goodness sake.

In fact, the sources any serious journalist would view as “credible” give the opposite answer to the one Freedland wants. But in what passes for Freedland’s mind, “credible” is 100% synonymous with “establishment”. When he says “credible sources” he means “establishment sources”. That is the truth of the “fake news” meme. You are not to read anything unless it is officially approved by the elite and their disgusting, crawling whores of stenographers like Freedland.

The worst thing about all this is that it is aimed at promoting further conflict with Russia. This puts everyone in danger for the sake of more profits for the arms and security industries – including of course bigger budgets for the CIA. As thankfully the four year agony of Aleppo comes swiftly to a close today, the Saudi and U.S. armed and trained ISIS forces counter by moving to retake Palmyra. This game kills people, on a massive scale, and goes on and on.


Related Topics?

Guccifer 2.0 Angry about his DNC Hack being Blamed on Russians*

Russia and China Veto Phony Aleppo Ceasefire U.N. Security Council Resolution*

Russia, 3rd Country to Pull Out from Int’l Criminal Court in Two Months*

Russia Today Shut Down By U.K. Government*

Sweeping Cyber Attack By U.S/ Gov’t on WIKILEAKS/TWITTER…Not RUSSIA!

Funded by U.S. Latest iconic image designed to Demonize Russia and to Keep Syrian Blood Flowing*

Russia on the Attempted Coup in Crimea*

U.S. Led NATO to send 4,000 Troops to Russian Borders*

U.S., NATO Deploy Troops to Russia in WWIII Build-up*

Whoever Controls Eurasia Controls the World*

Singing Together Brings Heartbeats into Harmony*

Singing Together Brings Heartbeats into Harmony*

By Cassandra Sheppard

“The neuroscience of singing shows that when we sing our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways. It fires up the right temporal lobe of our brain, releasing endorphins that make us smarter, healthier, happier and more creative. When we sing with other people this effect is amplified.

The science is in. Singing is really, really good for you and the most recent research suggests that group singing is the most exhilarating and transformative of all.

The good feelings we get from singing in a group are a kind of evolutionary reward for coming together cooperatively.

The research suggests that creating music together evolved as a tool of social living. Groups and tribes sang and danced together to build loyalty, transmit vital information and ward off enemies

Science Supports Singing

What has not been understood until recently is that singing in groups triggers the communal release of serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and even synchronises our heart beats.

Group singing literally incentivised community over an “each cave dweller for themselves” approach. Those who sang together were strongly bonded and survived.

In her book Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others, Stacy Horn calls singing:

An infusion of the perfect tranquiliser – the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirit.

Singing Makes You Happy

For a decade, science has been hard at work trying to explain why singing has such a calming yet energising effect on people. Numerous studies demonstrate that singing releases endorphins and oxytocin – which in turn relieve anxiety and stress and which are linked to feelings of trust and bonding.

Singing helps people with depression and reduces feelings of loneliness, leaving people feeling relaxed, happy and connected. What’s more, the benefits of singing regularly are cumulative. People who sing have reduced levels of cortisol, indicating lower stress.

U.K. singer, singing teacher and choir leader Sophia Efthimiou describes singing as a process of consciously controlling our breath and larynx to create and sustain certain pitches and we blend that with rhythm and poetry to create songs.

In a group setting, each group member feels the musical vibrations moving through their body simultaneously. Our heart beats become synchronised. Sophia explains:

“We literally form one unified heart-beat”.

Anybody Can Sing

One of the great things about singing is that you can receive the wellbeing benefits even if you aren’t any good. One study showed that:

“Group singing can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is of mediocre quality.

Tania de Jong, singer and founder of Creativity Australia, has effectively harnessed this ability of group singing to lift every member of the group up, no matter their singing ability.

The organisation’s project With One Voice puts a diversity of people together regularly to sing. The group euphoria is harnessed allowing people’s natural creativity, triggered by the group singing session, to generate new levels of community support, connection and opportunities. Tania says:

“One of the great things about singing is that is connects you to the right side of your brain. This is the side responsible for intuition, imagination and all our creative functions. It connects us to a world of possibilities. In modern life we are constantly bombarded with so much information that we process and analyse. We tend to get stuck in the left, processing side of our brain. So it becomes fundamentally important to nurture the attributes of human beings that set us apart from machines. The best way to do that is singing.

Sing Anywhere, Anytime

These benefits are free and accessible to all. We all have a voice. We can all sing, even if we don’t think we can.

There was a time when we all used to sing. We sang at church, around camp fires, at school. While group singing is experiencing a resurgence, not so many of us sing anymore. At some stage, someone told us to be quiet or judged our imperfect singing voice. Sophia Efthimiou suggests that singing is very personal, an expression of sound coming from within us, so we cannot help but take this criticism very personally and it sticks.

Yet, people who claim they cannot sing because they are tone deaf are more likely to be very unfamiliar with finding and using their singing voice.

Tone deafness is comparatively rare and means that you would be unable to recognise a song. If you can recognise a song you are not tone deaf, you are just unpractised. Sophia clarifies:

“When our voice makes the wrong note we can feel terrible as though it is a reflection of our self-worth.. But – if you can talk, you can sing.

Raise Your Voice

U.S. opera singer Katie Kat wishes to encourage all of us to sing far more often regardless of our perceived skill.

“Singing increases self-awareness, self-confidence and our ability to communicate with others. It decreases stress, comforts us and helps us to forge our identity and influence our world.

When you sing, musical vibration moves through you, altering your physical and emotional state. Singing is as old as the hills. It is innate, ancient and within all of us. It really is one of the most uplifting therapeutic things we can do. Katie continues:

“However, society has skewed views on the value of singing. Singing has become something reserved for elite talent or highly produced stars with producers, management, concert dates – leaving the rest of us with destructive criticism of our own voices.

She claims that singing is instinctual and necessary to our existence. You do not have to be an amazing singer to benefit from the basic biological benefits and with practice the benefits increase.

Singing Creates Connection

I have fond memories of hearing my grandmother singing throughout the day and of large group singing sessions with her friends.

One of my favourite memories of group singing is the old Scots tradition on New Year’s Eve of singing Auld Lang Syne. My grandmother and all her friends would stand in a big circle just before midnight.

Everyone would hold hands, and then at the beginning of the final verse we would cross our arms across our bodies so that our left hand was holding the hand of the person on our right, and the right hand holds that of the person on the left. When the song ended, everyone would rush to the middle, still holding hands. It was beautiful fun and as a young girl I felt so safe, included and loved within that singing circle.

The phrase “auld lang syne” roughly translates as “for old times’ sake”, and the song is all about preserving old friendships and looking back over the events of the year.

A tradition worth resurrecting, considering the benefits of singing in a group.


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