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Inspired By Italy, Dallas Residents Sing Together From Their Apartment Windows

People lean out of their homes' balconies to play and sing during a flash mob in Milan, Italy, Friday, March 13, 2020. Italians have not been able to leave their homes since March 9, when the government locked the country down to combat the spread of coronavirus. (Claudio Furlan/AP)
Image credit: Claudio Furlan

In these uncertain times, we all need somebody to lean on.

Or so felt the residents of South Side on Lamar, an apartment building in Dallas, Texas, where a group of residents stuck their heads out of windows in a chorus of quarantined voices.

Building resident and soulful tenor Danzel Barber led an apartment quarantine singalong to the popular Bill Withers song “Lean on Me.”

Little by little, other residents began to join Barber in his refrain, some adding harmonies, some just peering out their windows or filming on phones. Others came in a bit off-beat or off-key — the perils of cross-apartment singing.

North Texas member station KERA reported the story, and longtime contributor Mark Birnbaum, who lives in the building, caught the singalong on camera.

Another resident, radio host Bonnie Curry of Texas radio station KLTY, organized the singalong.

Curry said she was inspired by the videos she saw of Italians in quarantine singing to one another from the balconies of their buildings. Since Italy announced a country-wide lockdown in response to the coronavirus outbreak, videos of quarantine singalongs have begun to circulate social media. Italy now has more than 50,000 confirmed cases and nearly 5,000 deaths from COVID-19.

“When I saw the video of them singing from window to window to encourage each other, I realized I live in a building that has lots and lots of windows,” said Curry. “I think we could all use a bit of encouragement right now.”

So Curry decided to organize something similar at the South Side on Lamar apartment building, a former Sears warehouse. She chose “Lean on Me” as the song for its universality and, of course, its timely message.

“Everything about that song to me says what we all need to be doing right now,” Curry said. “There are people all around us that need help.”

When Barber, an experienced singer, saw a flyer advertising the singalong, he said he reached out to see what he could do to help.

“I wanted to be a part of something that could lift the spirits,” Barber said. Like many others, he’s been working remotely from his apartment to socially distance.

Curry suggested Barber start the singalong. When it came time to start the song at 11 a.m. Friday, she sang along with her community, following Barber’s lead.

“It’s an amazing moment of community,” she said. “People coming together even though we have to stay apart.”

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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