Music teamed with health awareness May 15 for a performance at Boston’s Berklee College Performance Center, as part of the “Music Inspires Health” tour, proving that entertainment can be educational as well enjoyable.
Headlining the Boston stop was indie-pop artist Ingrid Michaelson who self-consciously acknowledged that, yes, she does sing “The Sweater Song” from the Old Navy holiday commercial and that it was also her song, “Keep Breathing,” which was featured in the season three finale of popular television show “Grey’s Anatomy”.
Opening for Michaelson were April Smith and the Great Picture Show and Ari Hest.
During Michaelson’s nearly two-hour set, the New York native played almost the entirety of her most recent CD “Girls and Boys,” as well as “Keep Breathing,” and a song she explained to the audience that she had written only the week before, but would perform because she liked the crowd. “Don’t hate it if it comes out all purple and covered in goo,” she asked of the audience, likening her newest creation to that of a newborn child.
Her humor was almost more entertaining than her singing, as the audience roared with laughter at her stage banter, which included a story of drooling all over herself on an airplane, as well as an impromptu halt to her performance after making a mistake and subsequent explanation/apology.
Benjamin Levy, executive director of “Music Inspires Health,” which targets high school and college students, introduced all three soulful performances with videos and dialogue about different dangerous behaviors students tend to exhibit. The art films in particular touched on alcohol abuse, unprotected sex, and eating disorders.
On the “Music Inspires Health” Web site, the 10 acts who are taking part in the tour also address issues that they feel strongly about. “Staying away from cigarettes and second hand smoke helps me to hit all of those high notes and keep my energy level up when I’m on stage,” Smith writes. “Being smoke free and healthy allows me to do just that.”
For Hest, the most important health concern is eating healthy.
“Musicians like us who are on tour most of the year have learned that the only way we can sustain that pace is to eat right wherever we go,” he said. “Not only do we feel much better but healthy food makes for a much better performance that if we were lazy and stopped at some fast food joint.”
Smith’s bubbly performance and cute personality started the Berklee show off on the right foot. Her guitar, which she was loathe to give up to her manager even for the three minutes it took to perform a song without it, was almost as big as she was.
Hest opened up his set standing out on the stage alone with his guitar. Much of his set was comprised of songs from his project “52,” where for $20 fans receive a new song each week for a year, and then the top songs as voted by subscribers will be the tracks to his new CD.
It’s a pleasant change to have artists taking the time out of their schedules to perform music for a cause, to try to promote better and healthier behavior in their audience members instead of encouraging substance abuse and promiscuity. Perhaps it is a practice that should be seen more often.