BY BTL STAFF
Ann Arbor – A fundraiser to support local seniors will showcase an award-winning documentary and harmonizing legends from Ann Arbor.
Hear the sweet, serious, silly and satisfying sensation of the Chenille Sisters when they perform before the showing of an award-winning feature-length documentary “Alive Inside” on May 28 at the Michigan Theater as part of an upcoming fundraiser to benefit local seniors.
The Chenille Sisters have performed together for over 30 years, harmonizing throughout the streets of Ann Arbor and beyond. In the early 1980s Grace Morand, Connie Huber and Cheryl Dawdy met at the Old Town Tavern in Ann Arbor. The three of them would gather late in the afternoon and sit around a table, singing and playing their guitars together. Huber and Morand started a duo called “Cookin'” and began performing in bars across town. Not long after, they invited Dawdy to join them on stage for a few songs and she stuck with the pair, forming a trio. They quickly caught the attention of former manager of The Ark, Dave Siglin, who booked them for the Persuasions at The Ark in 1985 and put them in the Ann Arbor Folk Festival lineup in 1986.
They rehearsed daily and performed almost every weekend for nearly 20 years. There was a drop in funding for performing arts in the late ’90s, which caused a drop in performances for the Chenilles. Now, the three artists perform roughly 12 times a year. They are known for their playful performances, eclectic choices in fashion and above all else having fun on stage.
Their 12th and latest album titled “May I Suggest” was released in 2006 and includes many songs that fans have requested the group perform and some new favorites including “Your State’s Name Here,” “God’s Gift To Women” and “May I Suggest.”
The event will be emceed by Rob Reinhart, host and producer of Acoustic Cafe, with a special VIP reception before the documentary showing offering refreshments and a meet-and-greet with Reinhart.
“After decades surrounded by music, ‘Alive Inside’ is the most amazing musical experience I’ve ever seen. It’s simply the best example of how powerful music is,” Reinhart said.
Winner of the Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, “Alive Inside” follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he demonstrates music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett visits family members who have witnessed the miraculous effects of personalized music on their loved ones and offers illuminating interviews with experts.
Ann Arbor geriatrician Dr. Alan Dengiz, clinical assistant professor of Geriatric, Hospice and Palliative Medicine at the University of Michigan, has devoted most of his career to the care of people with Alzheimer’s Disease and is serving as the “faculty champion” for this fundraiser event.
He notes that, “Music seems to have a magical effect to bring back old memories and also to give people who cannot speak or communicate the ability to suddenly start to smile and sing along when they hear a familiar tune. What a delight it is to their families and to everyone around them.”
The fundraiser is by Big Hearts for Seniors, a group that promotes awareness and raises funds for five non-profit, community-supported programs of the University of Michigan Health System serving older adults throughout Washtenaw County. Organizers have expressed a desire to reach the LGBT community and include LGBT senior needs in their work.
Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels, Housing Bureau for Seniors, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Michigan, Silver Club Memory Programs and Turner Senior Wellness Program all collaborate to make sure that seniors obtain access to home-delivered meals, affordable housing options, support to remain independent, mental stimulation and relief from social isolation, as well as care for those with dementia. All funds raised go directly to these programs and provide critical services.
Since 2006, Big Hearts for Seniors has raised funds through participation in the Ann Arbor Marathon and the Big House/Big Heart race, from which the name Big Hearts for Seniors originated. The 2014 fundraiser featured a screening of “Age of Champions” at the Michigan Theater and raised over $25,000 for Big Hearts for Seniors.
The Chenille Sisters will perform at 6:30 p.m., directly before the documentary showing. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for VIP tickets and at 6:15 p.m. for general admission. Cost for attending the fundraiser is $50 for VIP tickets and $15 for general admission. Tickets are available at the door or online at http://www.med.umich.edu/geriatrics/BHS.
The Michigan Theatre is located at 603 E. Liberty St. in Ann Arbor.