“Music has the power to bring people together…” Laura Cunningham knows this, and, along with her friend and fellow musician Lorna Dollery, she is using music via their #CoronaSongChallenge to raise the spirits of Nantucket residents sheltering in place. And in doing so, they are raising money for Nantucket Cottage Hospital.
Cunningham explained that the challenge developed organically out of a conversation she had with Dollery when the Open Mic Night at Corner Table was canceled due to the island’s Covid-19 measures.
The day Dollery called to tell her the Open Mic was not happening, “it had been a hard day personally and for our business, [as it has been for so many here],” Cunningham explained. Her parents in Ireland had to cancel their visit to Nantucket to see their daughter and grandson, and Yellow Productions, the videography business she and husband Christopher Wendzicki operate, was dealing with cancellations of many spring events.
“The realization set in that people were not taking [the pandemic and the island situation] seriously… So I suggested to Lorna that we rewrite a song to educate people about what is happening… We thought Meghan Trainor’s song Dear Future Husband was perfect… and Meghan is from Nantucket.”
After writing their new pandemic-theme lyrics, they had another thought: “It would be great to turn this into a challenge” to get more people involved and spread the word. “When I uploaded our video we made to Facebook, the notice to ADD A DONATE BUTTON popped up, and I thought ‘Nantucket Cottage Hospital is on the front line of it all,’ so I made it a fundraiser, too.”
Cunningham and Dollery invite all Nantucket musicians and aspiring singers to accept the Corona Song Challenge. Once the challenge is accepted, participants have 24 hours to rewrite lyrics, make a video, and upload it to Facebook. Each person who uploads a video then challenges another to participate. “But anyone can join in,” clarified Cunningham, “the idea is to keep it going… The people in Italy singing from their balconies were so inspiring — we don’t have apartment buildings on Nantucket, so we are using Facebook to ‘sing from our balcony.'”
As of our interview Thursday morning, March 26, twenty-five people have taken the Corona Song Challenge and $5,600 has been raised for Nantucket Cottage Hospital.
“I hope people are listening to the lyrics,” commented Cunningham. “We’re all in the same boat out here, and we need to let Nantucket know that if we don’t take this seriously, we may not have a summer season. Stay home!”
Here is a sampling of the songs in Nantucket’s Corona Song Challenge. Enjoy and listen to the lyrics!