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Northampton Senior Center monthly Group Sing to perform lyrics from ‘Hair’

Barbara Cranson of Northampton can’t read music, but loves everything from classical to rock. Luckily, the ability to read music is not required for the Northampton Senior Center’s monthly Group Sing event, where Cranson will join as many as 100 community members tonight to belt out the lyrics to the ’60s musical “Hair.”

“It is just refreshing to sing with everyone and not worry about what is going on in world,” Cranson said in a telephone interview Monday. She has been attending the group since its first meeting in January 2012.

Group Sing brings together people ages 55 and over to sing songs from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. The group is constantly trying new things for their meetings, and this Wednesday will be the first time the group sings along while watching a movie. Last month they were joined by the local ukulele group AEIOUkes.

On April 24, Clair Chapwell, who does music and advocacy work with seniors in Great Britain, will travel from London to attend and study the group.

Ashlee Cancio-Bello, a former program coordinator at the senior center, still helps lead Group Sing every month. She said in a telephone interview Monday that the group always enjoys itself, but she is particularly looking forward to seeing what happens this week.

“ ‘Hair’ is a crazy musical; there are a lot of drug and sexual references, it will be interesting and funny to have us sing along to some of the lyrics,” she said.

Cancio-Bello said that she believes there is a lot of significance in all of the silliness.

“I think it is a way of uplifting ourselves, taking a break from the seriousness. It is so good for the spirit to express ourselves through song,” she said.

Ron Ackerman of Northampton has also been attending the meetings since their beginning with his wife, Cleo Gorman. He stressed that you don’t have to sing well in order to sing out loud with the group.

“It feels very welcoming, very comfortable and very encouraging,” he said in a telephone interview Monday.

He is looking forward to singing “Hair” for the same reason he likes the music every month.

“The music that is chosen is music that we are all familiar with, and they give us the words, so it’s easy,” he said.

Group Sing meets the last Wednesday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Northampton Senior Center. It is free and open to the public. Lyrics will be handed out and everyone is invited to sing along with the movie. In addition to Cancio-Bello, Group Sing is also led by Roy Faudree of No Theater and is joined by Ken Maiuri on the piano.

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