Unitarian livestream concerts aid musicians, social justice causes

  • Peter Blood and Annie Patterson will livestream a concert in the series Saturday. SARAH PRALL

Staff Writer
Published: 12/4/2020 11:45:54 PM
Modified: 12/4/2020 11:45:40 PM

Next week’s concert by the Bob Sparkman Trio is just one of a series of livestreamed shows from the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence (USNF) that have a two-fold design: raising money for Valley musicians who have been hamstrung by the pandemic, as well as supporting various social justice initiatives.

Begun in summer, the concerts, which can be viewed at livefromsanctuary.org, have also been aimed at helping Irida Kakhtiranova, a Russian immigrant who has been in sanctuary in the church since 2018 to avoid deportation and separation from her nearby family: three American-born children and her husband, also an American citizen. Kakhtiranova took shelter there after the Trump administration changed federal immigration policies in 2017.

Brit Albritton, a choral singer with the Unitarian Society who has organized the music series, says the series has relied on donations, which can be made through the program’s website, and those funds have been split 50-50 between musicians and the church or other projects (donations for the Dec. 13 concert will be shared by the Gazette’s Toy Fund and the Bob Sparkman Trio).

The series, which has featured folk, jazz and classical music, continues today, Dec. 5, with a 7 p.m. show by Annie Patterson with Peter Blood. Patterson is a singer-songwriter and banjo player, as well as a singer with the jazz/swing trio Girls From Mars. Blood, her longtime partner, accompanies her on fiddle and guitar.

The couple also created the noted “Rise Up Singing” songbook and are the subject of a new documentary film, We Began to Sing, which examines their career and their key role in helping build what’s been dubbed a “quiet revolution of group singing in North America.” Their show will be a benefit for the Movement Voter Project.

The Rev. Janet Bush, the Unitarian Society’s minister, said in a statement that the concert is “an outgrowth of the voting rights work tirelessly undertaken by USNF members over the past year.”

Other concerts in the works include Moonlight Davis and Morning Star Chenven, performing Jan. 17, 2021 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend; a classical trio playing Baroque music Jan. 31 to benefit the Arcadia Players; archguitarist Peter Blanchette on Feb. 14; and Justina Golden and friends, who will perform in March.

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