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The music came to them

Singer-songwriter Mary McBride gives seniors at The Watershed rare access to live music


Residents of The Watershed affordable housing project in Hillsdale were treated to some toe-tapping tunes Sept. 3 with a free concert given by singer-songwriter Mary McBride.by: CONNECTION PHOTO: DREW DAKESSIAN - Mary McBride rocks out during her Sept. 3 performance at The Watershed.

Sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners, the concert was one of four stops on The Home Tour, McBride’s self-created series of musical performances put on in the homes of those who under normal circumstances may lack access to live music due to limited income or mobility.

“I’m very grateful to do this tour and have the opportunity to be with you today,” McBride said before kicking off the show to an audience of about 15 senior citizens.

As she made her way through a set list of over 11 songs at The Watershed, a property of Community Partners For Affordable Housing, McBride regaled her audience with the highlights of her career, including opening for her favorite singer, Coco Taylor, in her last New York concert, and recording the song “No One’s Gonna Love You Like Me” for the film “Brokeback Mountain.”

The Home Tour first came into being in 2010. While volunteering with the social service agency We Are Family in Washington, D.C., two homebound elderly women told McBride they wished they could come sing for them in their living room.

“It was one of those cliche, light bulb moments,” recalled McBride, who also serves as a cultural envoy for the U.S. State Department. “I realized I was spending my time running around the world playing in clubs and there was this whole world of people who did not have access to music.”

What they lack in day-to-day access, they make up for in enthusiasm. The concertgoers at The Watershed, for their part, clapped along with McBride and her band throughout the concert.

“A lot of organizations that house and serve seniors always warn us to sort of keep the volume down,” McBride said, “But I have played so many shows for seniors that I know that people (their age) want to hear a little rock ‘n’ roll.”

Indeed, McBride said, giving senior citizens and members of other affordable housing communities the opportunity to hear that type of music fills a crucial void.

“I think that the risk of being any kind of living situation where you’re not with your family all the time is that you can feel isolated and you can feel alone and in many cases people feel invisible. What we're trying to do is bring people together; validate them, their ideas, where they live and give them what we can give them — which is music.”

Amanda Saul, Enterprise Community Partners Pacific Northwest senior program director, agreed.

“At Enterprise we believe that affordable housing is more than a roof over peoples heads; it’s about making sure that people have connections and opportunities,” she said. “And music is a great way to do that.