“Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.” -Sarah Dessen
On March 13, 2020, Broadway icon, actress, and supermom, Laura Benanti (My Fair Lady) began one of the kindest social media movements our nation could have during a pandemic. While schools began closing due to the increasing spread of COVID-19, and the need to ensure that our kids are safe, Laura took to social media. She asked students whose spring musicals were cancelled to post videos of the songs from their shows.
“This may seem silly but I know that a lot of high schools were going to have their musicals and those musicals got cancelled. And that is a bummer. I know for so many of us, I know for me my high school musical was like a lifesaver,” Benanti said on Twitter. “If you would like to sing a song that you are not going to get sing now and tag me, I want to see you. I want to hear it.”
This suggestion from Laura was anything but silly. Students of varying ages and grade levels began sharing their videos under the hashtag “SunshineSongs.” All over the country, students performed songs from within their homes or shared videos from rehearsals before their musicals were cancelled. The musicals ranged from Hamilton to Rent, to The Lion King, to an all-female production of Fiddler on a Roof, and anywhere in between. As Laura shared each phenomenal performance, other Broadway icons (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stephanie J. Block) told these hardworking and passionate students that they were watching, too.
In fact, everyone was watching. #SunshineSongs brought joy, sunshine, and hope into a world of uncertainty, anxiety, worry, and fear. Personally, it helped me get through the day and filled me with happiness.
#SunshineSongs continues today and is still helping people throughout the country. We are so incredibly thankful for it! In addition, Laura has expanded the movement to include #SunshineSongGrads. Most importantly, Laura began an initiative with Kate Deiter-Maradei. This initiative helps individuals who are “especially isolated” during this pandemic and quarantine:
If you want to watch very talented students doing what they love, follow along with #SunshineSongs, and follow Laura here.
I want to thank Laura Benanti for starting this kind, and much needed movement. I also want to thank all the students for sharing their videos. Keep singing, keep performing, and keep spreading a little sunshine!