91-year-old Ottawa woman takes up the ukulele (with video)

Ottawa Citizen

She proudly calls herself an “old folkie” and, with her late husband, Gil, hosted countless hootenannies — singalongs — over the decades in the living room of their Ottawa home.

But Helen Levine waited a long time before deciding to pick up an instrument herself.

A very long time.

“That’s one thing I love about the instrument. You don’t have to be good,” says a laughing Levine, 91, as she cradles her Republic resonator ukulele on the sofa of her new apartment at the Rockcliffe Retirement Residence.

Levine took up the instrument a year ago at the urging of her daughter, Tamara, who’d fallen in love with the ukulele herself after hearing players from the Bytown Ukulele Group (BUG) play at the annual spring Grassroots Festival. With lessons from another Ottawa folkie, musician and CKCU radio host Chris White, a longtime family friend, Levine slowly coaxed her arthritic fingers into the simple chord shapes…

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Perth train commuters enjoy a Monday singalong in viral video

Commuters joined in an impromptu singalong on Monday morning. Photo: The Liberators International / YouTube

For a carriage load of Perth passengers Monday morning’s train journey to the office wasn’t the usual gloomy trudge to begin the working week.

In what is sure to become the latest viral video to sweep social media, Peter Sharp can be seen boarding a everyday commuter train at Claremont before announcing to the straight-faced cabin of workgoers that he’d like to contribute to their journey by saying, “thank you”.

He then launches into Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow; complete with friends accompanying him on the ukulele.

And slowly but surely, one-by-one, sceptical and embarrassed passengers join in with the singer as he moves through the cabin handing out song sheets.

Some passengers begin to dance, many sing and all are left smiling and with a happy story to share with colleagues when they arrive at their desk.

Peter Sharp, the young man who broke into song, says the act was inspired by his mum.

“For so many years I’ve seen my mum going to work on dark, cold winter mornings to make a living for our family,” he says.

“I think it’s easy to forget the hard-work people put in everyday. I want to contribute to this society, give back to this community and I want to show how easy and simple it can be for anyone to do it.

“It was actually one of our most successful [stunts] in that we had most of the train singing along and that’s really special, especially for the morning train which can be a bit gloomy.”

Mr Sharp said the brief singalong seemed to lift the spirits of those on board.

“It created this electricity in the air and when we got off the train there were just smiles beaming from all of the people on the train,” he said.

“We had one of our mates stay on the train a few extra stops to see the impact after we left. People wished each other a nice day after we had gone which was great.”

The Liberators International have launched a crowdfunding campaign to take their joyful work across the world – first stop Europe.

“It’s worked here in Perth, but we want to see if these concepts are truly global,” Mr Sharp said.

“We’re going to five cities – London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Barcelona and meeting up with people who have seen our videos and love what we do.

“We’ll collaborate with these people on the ground to see if we can create more acts of love and human connection.”

Vía: The Sydney Morning Herald