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Colorado Creative Industries Detour Program: Detour is a statewide pilot program that creates a model of music touring as a community-based, sustainable and creatively rewarding practice. For more, visit www.coloradocreativeindustries.org/communities/colorado-music/detour-music-program
When do you sing?
This question was at the heart of the community-building workshop put on Thursday afternoon for 360-plus students in English classes at Fort Morgan High School.
Leading the workshop were members of bands the Flobots and 2MX2 and emcee Lolita Casteñeda. After some impromptu singing and spoken-word/rap performances of their own, they broke the students up into smaller groups and got them singing.
It didn’t matter what songs they were singing, the band members said, as long as they were singing together.
That led to renditions of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” “We Are the Champions,” “Call Me Maybe,” “The Alphabet Song” and lots of others being heard in the FMHS library and a large English classroom.
The workshop in Fort Morgan was part of a series of such workshops and concerts being held across Colorado in rural areas with the Flobots and various other bands. State agency Colorado Creative Industries sponsored the tour, which was called “Detour.”
“From what I’ve heard from the members of he bands and the community members, I think it’s a huge success,” said Sheila Sears of Colorado Creative Industries. “I think they’re engaging people that regular tours couldn’t do, and I think they’re reaching all corners of the state.”
Fort Morgan is toward the end of the Detour, which has its last rural Colorado stop this weekend with the Pedal the Plains show in Sterling.
“As we’ve traveled, we’ve been asking people, ‘When do you sing? Why don’t you sing?’,” Flobots vocalist/emcee Stephen Brackett, aka Brer Rabbit, said. “We think it’s very powerful when you sing.”
He and other workshop leaders asked the participants to point out the songs that they look at as their anthems.
In Brackett’s group, students pointed to “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child, “Sanitarium by Metallica, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor and “Dream On” by Aerosmith as songs that get them going.
The Flobots member pointed out that this is only one way music has power and can make a difference in the life of a person or a community.
In the other workshop space, Flobots emcee Jamie Laurie, aka Jonny 5, encouraged the students to sing no matter who’s listening or watching.
“The time to raise your voice is when everyone will hear you,” he said. “We talked before about how songs can change our emotional state. That’s technology. That’s a powerful thing.”
English teacher Elliott Johnston helped set up the Flobots’ Fort Morgan stop on the Detour and workshop at FMHS through his connections as a former music journalist.
“They really want to reach out to places with the Detour that they haven’t played before and reach out to the communities with both the workshops and the show,” Johnston said. “The English department and the whole high school has been very supportive to the idea.”
The teacher said he felt “proud” to be able to offer this “unique” opportunity to so many FMHS students.
“One thing I really love about this, what I understand the band is trying to do is get the kids to see their communities as something special and not just places like Denver,” Johnston said.
That message, along with the power of music, resonated with 14-year-old FMHS student Jose Chavez.
“They talked about how many ways music can fix someone’s life,” Chavez said, adding that he enjoyed it and getting to learn from members of a band he likes in his hometown. “It was a very fun workshop.”