Posted by: mhubler on Jun 26, 2012
A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle “Loneliness Lethal for Seniors” talks about results from a new UCSF study that finds older people who are lonely are more likely to experience a decline in health.
Bread & Roses performer Barbara Dane, an 85-year-old resident of Oakland, was quoted in the article as saying many older adults need to take more responsibility for their own social lives. As her late husband’s primary caregiver, Barbara had to take some time off from a 50-year career as a jazz singer. After he died, she realized how very important it was to maintain her active and varied social life as a performer.
At Bread & Roses, older volunteers who perform live music find it a great vehicle for staying connected to others. Almost eighty volunteer performers, both individuals and groups, are over the age of 65 and many keep performing for Bread & Roses well into their 80s.
The Swing Society, Bread & Roses performers for over a decade, are octogenarian swingers all in their 80s. The late James Jenkins, a Bread & Roses performer for over twenty-five years, played violin well into his 90s.
At an institutional show for Bread & Roses several years ago, former staff producer Kurt Huget recognized Barbara Dane’s high level of experience and showmanship. “Barbara brings to her performances an impressive musical legacy, a wide repertoire of material and an engaging personality that draws listeners into her world. She ran the gamut from blues and folk to gospel, songs with emotions and themes that everyone can connect with. Indeed, she had this appreciative audience clapping, shouting and singing along. After the show, most of the audience came forth to express their appreciation. One listener told her that ‘we needed that.’ “
Barbara thanked us afterwards for the privilege of performing for the folks at New Bridge, an adult drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Berkeley. She said, “They were just about the most aware and responsive audience one could want, and we loved it all. Please do invite us for more. And thanks for all that you do to make these things possible.”
Our senior performers are an important part of Bread & Roses program of bringing music to isolated audiences around the Bay Area. For the 600 programs we present each year, a third of our audiences are either in senior convalescent centers or day facilities where seasoned performers who do vintage songs or classic jazz standards are especially welcome.
Do you know any older performers who might be willing to volunteer for Bread & Roses?
They could benefit from staying connected to those who would truly appreciate them and we could use their help.
By Marian Hubler
Barbara Dane (with Kurt Huget) performed at a benefit for Bread & Roses in 2007.
Photo by Ken Friedman
I have always liked to use the term "win-win". After reading this blog I cant help but think to myself how much of a "win-win" it is for performers like Barbara and the clients here at New Bridge. We look forward to each and every time we get a visit from Bread and Roses. We are grateful for Barbara and the energy that she brings.