Denver burlesque performer and producer Melissa May, known by the stage name Polka Dottie, originally had a straightforward name for her upcoming event: “Colorado Artists: Let’s Mourn the Opportunities Lost to COVID Together.” Although she changed the name to Ghost Light, the event’s message remains the same, and artists from around Colorado will gather at HQ on Monday, May 16, to showcase their art and have a symbolic burial for the artistic opportunities lost during the pandemic.
For many artists, those opportunities aren’t coming back. “I had all this momentum going, all these things planned. And then it stopped,” May reflects.
She says that during quarantine, her motivation and creativity came to a halt. It wasn’t until two years later that her passion for art served as motivation to keep going after losing so much.
“After discussing this topic with several other artists, I realized that the world hasn’t made time or space for us to mourn what could have been, so I wanted to create that opportunity for those desiring closure,” May explains.
She began contacting artists across Colorado to partake in the event. She got the inspiration for the new name from ghost lights, the single bulbs that theaters use to light a stage when it is unoccupied. Ghost lights were also used as a symbol of hope during the lockdown.
Any type of artist is invited to join, from drag performers to painters, sculptors, actors, singers, dancers, tattoo artists and more. The artists are invited to share their losses in a eulogy of sorts, and to bring works to display. During the time artists will be given to speak, items will be shared, and explanations of their meaning will be presented. Being able to speak about these items out loud and share them with others will be a crucial part of the mourning and closure that May hopes to bring to artists with the event.
“Don’t take the arts for granted,” she says, urging the general public to help support artists during these hard times in any way possible. Whether through financial or promotional avenues, any amount of support counts.
“We stayed home, we stayed brave, and we kept the light on. But we never got closure. Let’s create it together,” May says.
Ghost Light, 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 16, at HQ, 60 South Broadway. Entry is free. For updates, follow @misspolkadottie on Instagram.
After reviewing 2.7 million songs churches sang and 91,000 sermons delivered in 2021 amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the church technology company Faithlife has published its annual report revealing top worship songs and sermon trends of the last year.
The maker of the Logos Bible Software released its 2021Year-End Song & Sermon Report last week. Faithlife highlights worship music trends based on data from over 705,000 presentations using its Faithlife Proclaim Church Presentation Software. The report’s insight into the most covered topics in sermons is based on data from sermons posted to Faithlife Sermons.
According to the report, the most popular worship song of the last year was the 2016 song “Build My Life” by Pat Barrett.
The first verse of the song, which was second-most popular in 2020 and earned the top spot in 2019, goes:
“Worthy of every song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe
We live for You.”
The second-most popular song in 2021 was the 2015 song “Way Maker” by Sinach, the top song in 2020.
“Great Are You Lord” by All Sons & Daughters was at No. 3. “Goodness of God” by Bethel Music/Jenn Johnson finished fourth, and “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” by Matt Redman claimed the No. 5 spot. Chris Tomlin’s 2004 hit “How Great is Our God” came in No. 6.
“Altogether the average age of the top 20 songs is [just over 11] years, driven down by ‘How Great Thou Art’ from 1949,” the report reads. “The top 10 songs are even younger with an average age of 8.6 years.”
Faithlife notes that the “youngest” song on its top-20 list, 2019’s “Graves into Gardens” by Elevation Worship/Brandon Lake, was the only new addition to the list of the top songs in 2021, finishing at No. 9.
The report finds that hymns continue to be among the top worship songs during services.
“How Great Thou Art” was the 13th most popular in 2021, while “Lord I Need You” placed No. 14 and “Amazing Grace [My Chains Are Gone]” placed No. 16. “Cornerstone” ranked No. 17.
The sermons delivered in 2021 followed the most common topics of 2020. But some topics became more popular in 2021, including the No. 1 ranked topic, eschatology/resurrection, which was six times more popular than the previous year.
The topic of grace (No. 2) was four times more popular.
Other topics that increased in popularity were family and children, creation/renewal, philosophy, revival, cults, compromise, persecution and hospitality.
“These topics demonstrate the internal and external tensions many churches are facing,” the report details. “Torn between fear, hope, and simply surviving, preachers dedicated many of their sermons to helping their congregations understand how Scripture applied to their struggles.”
The top trending Bible passage was John 3:16, which states: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The second-most used Bible passage was Matthew 28:18–20.
The passage states: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
“While there aren’t many surprises in the 10 most used verses, Faithlife discovered that, of the 31,102 verses in the Bible, 29,321 verses were referred to in at least one sermon in 2021 (94%),” the statement reads.
Faithlife CEO Vik Rajagopal said that the data shows how church leaders met the needs of their communities and congregants amid another challenging year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The trending preaching topics demonstrate that even as the world navigated the challenges of the COVID pandemic, churches delivered God’s truth about the hope found in Jesus,” Rajagopal said.
The Spotify Science VS podcast aims to fact-check a lot of COVID and scientific misinformation that’s currently running rampant on the popular streaming service.
(Photo : Reet Talreja from Unsplash)
This was announced by the podcast’s host and editor, who Engadget says is actually stopping producing regular shows in order to focus on countering the spread of misinformation on the popular music platform. The Spotify Science VS podcast is set to keep doing so until the company “implements stronger methods” to stop misinformation from running rampant on the streaming service.
Wendy Zukerman, who serves as the executive producer of Science VS (which is actually owned by Spotify themselves), penned an open letter via email to company CEO Daniel Ek and tweeted a copy of it:
As you can see there, Zukerman claimed Spotify’s siding with Joe Rogan as “a slap in the face.” She specifically pinpointed Rogan’s controversial interview with infectious disease specialist Dr. Robert Malone, which took information about COVID vaccines “repeatedly out of context,” as reported by Reuters.
Furthermore, Rogan’s interview with Malone will also serve as a topic in a forthcoming episode of Science VS. This comes after the recent row between the popular podcaster/color commentator and veteran musician Neil Young, whose music has been taken down from the streaming platform after voicing out his intense criticism over Rogan’s tendency to peddle anti-vax sentiments on his show.
As per Young, Rogan’s podcast titled JRE (Joe Rogan Experience), who averages 11 million listeners per episode (via the BBC) poses a danger to more impressionable audiences who may believe the false information being shared. The music streaming service has been under fire as a result of the row between Rogan and Young, with the company’s stock tanking afterwards:
Spotify stock tanks. Spotify shuts down their customer service lines. Thousands of listeners complain and cancel subscriptions over Spotify’s decision to support Joe Rogan and the misinformation he broadcasts, over Neil Young’s music. pic.twitter.com/pjvMm7pYVQ
Will The Spotify Science VS Podcast’s Efforts Be Enough?
What’s basically going to happen is this: Science VS will be fact-checking what Spotify clearly won’t. And this comes after some analysts are saying that the platform’s current efforts to curb misinformation about COVID (and general scientific topics) aren’t enough.
(Photo : Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images) This illustration picture taken on July 24, 2019 in Paris shows the logo of the Swedish music streaming application Spotify on the screen of a tablet.
According to NBC News, it won’t be enough to just display a warning message on content talking about COVID-19 on its platform, which is also designed to help redirect users to more accurate information about vaccines and the pandemic as a whole. They are arguing that instead of this, all misinformed content should simply be removed without hesitation.
This, however, could still be met with opposition from Spotify itself. Amidst the announcement of its “content advisory” feature on COVID-19 topics, the company also claimed that they’re doing everything they can to “not be a content sensor.”
So far, Spotify claims to have removed roughly 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. But when asked about why Rogan’s podcast hasn’t been removed, they simply said that JRE’s content basically didn’t break any enough rules to be taken down.
For now, only time will tell whether Spotify will finally do the right thing.
But the CEO of the festival’s organiser, ARTRAGE, said they would take any new rules in their stride.
“In the last two years we’ve pivoted and we’ve pirouetted around the room,” Sharon Burgess said.
“The message is: you can buy with confidence, and if the worst case happens then we will support and we will be springing into action very quickly from all the learnings that we had in the previous year.”
Despite the uncertainty, Ms Burgess said ticket sales were already much faster than they were last year.
Hopes for improvement on difficult 2020
A lockdown part-way through last year’s festival delivered Fringe its lowest attendance since 2014, with 468,850 attending free and paid events.
ARTAGE said the five-day lockdown and capacity limits which followed meant 2,751 sessions had to either be cancelled or run at reduced capacity.
All up, 70,000 tickets had to be refunded, leading to a net deficit of $1.08 million.
Ms Burgess said while there was some concern any new restrictions could have a similar effect on this year’s festival, the reopening also presented some new opportunities.
“We’re excited, we have a whole range of fresh acts getting on planes to come and perform because we have that opening date,” she said.
“It’s all about balance, it’s about balancing the great stuff with the more challenging stuff.”
Minister celebrates opportunity
Arts minister David Templeman was tight-lipped on what restrictions might look like beyond February 5.
But he said Western Australians should appreciate the state is one of few places in the world where events of this scale can go ahead.
Mr Templeman also celebrated the resilience of the arts sector, which has been dealt blow after blow during the pandemic.
“I’m very confident that whatever we might face post-February 5, we’ll be able to respond to,” he said.
‘We know what to expect’: performer
BarbieQ was one of the performers affected last year and has mixed feelings about what’s to come this time around.
She has a range of performances over the month of Fringe, including two beyond the reopening date.
But BarbieQ is no stranger to that kind of uncertainty, having faced similar issues last year.
“Because we’ve been through it once before we know what to expect,” she said.
“All of us are sort of sitting here with that feeling of we just don’t know what’s going to happen.
“There’s no point worrying too much because it’s out of our control, so we’ve just got to go with it and take it on the chin.”
Organisers pleased with support on offer
An issue organisers raised last year was how much compensation was available to acts, venues and support staff.
Speaking about that topic this time around, Ms Burgess said she was happy with what was on offer.
That includes the state government’s Getting the Show Back on the Road+ grants, which will provide organisers with 75 per cent of the projected total box office revenue of their event, up to $150,000.
But those measures aren’t extended to unticketed or free events, or those with fewer than 100 people or total capacity ticket sales of less than $5,000.
The festival will also make support available through its Keep on Fringing grant program, which is funded in part by audiences.
Plans in place if capacity limits re-introduced
One of the few plans set in stone for beyond February 5 is what happens if a performance has its capacity reduced.
People will be refunded in reverse order of when they purchased their ticket, giving an extra incentive to purchase early.
For those who have their tickets cancelled, they will also have the option to forgo a refund, and instead donate the money to the artist directly, or to the festival.
Ms Burgess said it would be an important scheme for artists.
“They have had a tough couple of years, they’ve had opportunities removed from them,” she said.
“This is a time where we can really show our support.”