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A community united in song

Community sings like the one planned for Rosemount have drawn hundreds in other locations.

Shower singers, car singers, and everyone else who likes to belt one out every once in a while: here's your chance to give your vocal cords a workout in public.

At 2 p.m. July 12 the Robert Trail Library in Rosemount will hold a community sing, which is exactly what it sounds like. Anyone who feels like showing up will gather and, with the help of some professional song leaders, do a little singing. Song lists aren't restricted to any particular genres. Suggestions at previous events have included the likes of the Beatles, Bob Marley, God Bless America and Bohemian Rhapsody.

"We're open to suggestions," said Kathy Kleckner, the children's librarian at Robert Trail and the person who put together the singing event. "If anyone in the community really wants to have a song in the program, we can make it happen."

Kleckner became interested in the community sings after reading a story online. She attended one herself and decided she had to bring the event to Rosemount. She is working with a group called Minnesota Community Sings, which for the past three or four years has been leading about one community sing a month.

Community sings have a long history in Minnesota. From the late teens up through the mid-1950s there was an annual competition among the parks in Minneapolis. Judges would evaluate groups on participation and enthusiasm, among other factors. Standings were published daily in the newspaper.

The Minnesota Community Sings leaders will share some of that history at the library event, but the focus will be on the singing.

Bret Hesla, one of the people behind Minnesota Community Sings, said it's nice to give people a no-pressure chance to break into song. The event isn't about performance, or even necessarily about sounding good. It's about coming together as a community.

"It seems to be something that people love to do, and there's sort of a lack," Hesla said. "There are ways for people to sing in our culture ... but as far as people kind of singing in the community, non-performance, non-professional, it's kind of dwindling.

"It's a way to bring people together."

All of the members of Minnesota Community Sings are experienced song leaders. They bring instruments, but they're not there to perform so much as to get everyone else involved.

"No one has to sing. There's no performances. There's no solos," Kleckner said. "But with the leaders really carrying the show, anyone can join in."

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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