I was very blessed to be able to attend the Public Library Association Conference in Nashville a few months ago. This was right before COVID-19, when we seemed to move freely and breathed easier.
I was walking home from a full day of lectures and events, making my way down Broadway through the string of music venues. I heard the sweet sounds of a fiddle, and I had to take a hard right as I seemingly felt harmonies that spoke to my spirit. I stepped into the “Bootlegger Inn” and fell smack in music crush with the Wilson Brothers Band. They were covering Kenny Chesney’s “Anything But Mine” when I heard them, though they are known for their own extensive catalog of original songs. What I heard was the juxtaposition of music, family voices and crazy good violin with that poignant soul sound that moves the heart in music.
It may be strange to devote a column I usually write on libraries to this seemingly random event, but bear with me a moment. The Wilson Brothers Band recently released an original song titled “A Little Love.” I circled back and listened this song many times lately as we’ve had so much unrest in our nation, and I needed nourishment in my heart that we could make it through. That we could do better.
This action perfectly illustrated what I’ve written about frequently as a library professional and arts supporter, we need a strong cultural economy to support who we are as people. We don’t get a do-over on feeling the human experience, and at each step we need to grow and learn. The song “A Little Love” combines genres, styles, races, cultures and creeds together, and was recorded in my home state of Alabama on the small town streets of Alexander City. Probably the last place you would expect to support diversity and inclusivity, but judge not in that small towns can sometimes grow big hearts as people care for each other.
In our own libraries of today we support making and sharing content that supports our human experience; we sing, dance, create, exhibit, orchestrate, and illuminate the arts that help us grow thoughtfully. Cultural economy, hashtag it in that #culturaleconomy is where we roll up our sleeves and support content creationist, artists, and writers as they bring ideas forth that make a difference. I hope that we can all use our love to stretch, not only to include folks but to embrace all. I think we do this through education, arts, literature and engagement as we utilize our resources to strengthen our democracy.
At this time when we can seem so very far part, I hope we can draw together in endeavors that bring “A Little Love.” We need it. A little hope. A little calm. A little peace. A little laugh. Maybe, as a writer, I brought you a new idea to check out that circles you back to our library collection to find things that uplift you, intrigue you. Ones that you feel in your heart, things that help you love.
You can visit the Wilson Brothers Band at https://www.wilsonofficial.com/ and I hope when we can venture out post-COVID-19 that we can have them play up here. Our #culturaleconomy could use it.
Shannon Halikias is the director of the Sugar Grove Public Library, a professor at College of DuPage and an instructor at Joliet Junior College. She is an active outdoor lover, local poet, and has two rowdy teen boys she loves to pieces. You can reach her at email@example.com.