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  • Writer's pictureJena Ball

Be a Light - Introducing the Hug Felt Round the World Music Road Trip

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

One of the first casualties of COVID was the physical hug. Overnight, hugging family and friends became verboten, leaving many of us feeling like we’d been locked in solitary confinement. As a single woman without family, the isolation was pervasive and deep. Finding myself without a job, I had no co-workers to collaborate with or talk to. I stopped going to grocery stores and taking walks during the day because my neighbors refused to wear masks. Instead, I became a creature of the night, emerging from my den only after 11:00 pm for long, solitary walks around the neighborhood.

Then an extraordinary thing happened. I attended a live concert in a virtual world. There, more than 60 people (represented as avatars) gathered to hear a musician perform. The singer was broadcasting from the east coast of America, but the audience was composed of people from around the world. Freed from masks, social distancing, and the moratorium on physical touch we danced, told jokes, and allowed the music to wash over us in waves of life affirming sound. A tune about accidentally wishing on a plane instead of a star made me laugh; a sappy love song made me cry; and a country ballad about staying humble and kind left me feeling better than I had in weeks. “Almost,” I thought, “like I’d been given a warm hug.”

Musical Hugs Intrigued by my experience, I did some research. It turns out that notes produced by a musician are carried as sound waves to our ears. There, they are picked up by the inner ear and transmitted to the parts of the brains responsible for storing memories and emotions. So when we hear a song we love, the brain recalls and reproduces the memories and feelings associated with it. No wonder I felt hugged when I heard “You’ve Got a Friend” performed. It’s a song that brings back some of my happiest moments in college.

All of the above got me thinking. What if there was a way to help ease the sadness, isolation, and anxiety people are feeling by combining the power of story with musical hugs? How might we use the universal language of music to bring people together to share stories and support one another? That’s when the concept of The Hug Felt Round the World Music Road Trip was born.

Before you read any further, please listen to this song:

For me, this song embodies what so many of us are feeling and what is possible when we reach out to give one another a “safe place to land.” It is the perfect example of a musical hug and an ideal way to introduce the Hug Felt Round the World Music Road Trip. The Hug Felt Round the World Music Trip is an ongoing series of interviews and performances with and by musicians from around the world. The goal of the Music Road Trip is to use the power of music (our universal language) to bring people together to comfort, support, and share "Music Hugs" with one another. In doing so, we hope to build a diverse community of caring individuals and groups who are committed to helping one another survive and thrive in these challenging times. Each stop along the Music Road Trip will consist of:

  • An inspiring musical story told through words, images, and song

  • A live performance broadcast on the web and in virtual space

  • A live Q&A session with the musician(s) so that audience members can get to know them better and have an opportunity to win cool Hug Felt Round the World swag.

Watch the video below to learn more, and find out how you can be part of the dream.

Copyright 2021 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.

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