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Lynton, Big Park kids sing out for “Freedom Now”

by Trish Tucker

When the students of Mr. Simon’s fifth-grade class at Big Park School in the Village of Oakcreek came together with singer-songwriter Lynn Lynton to write a song about freedom, they did much more than make up a tune and lyrics.

Together, they explored freedom, what it means, how it is earned, and what the consequences may be if it is taken for granted. And as a result, the song “Freedom Now” will be included as part of the commemorative salute to September 11 to be heard on radio and television stations throughout Arizona.

A nine-year veteran as an elected member of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Lynton shares with students across our state her experiences of being a professional performer and songwriter. Through a grant awarded by the Commission, Lynton designed this workshop specifically to address our country’s renewed interest in patriotism.

“Immediately following the tragic event we experienced last September, flags were waving and cars and trucks displayed bumper stickers petitioning our pledge to America, freedom and blessing this country,” said Lynton. “At the same time, I witnessed some of these vehicles racing through traffic and cutting people off to get just one space ahead. I thought to myself  . . . just what do we all agree the definition of freedom is? And what is our personal commitment towards that end? In other words, how can we personally walk our talk on a daily basis?”

Lynton shared with the students a dictionary description of freedom and then encouraged each one to expand on it with his or her own definition according to their experience. She emphasizes individual accountability as she teaches her workshops. The students then broke into groups and passed around a talking stick to share ideas on various aspects of freedom.

“As soon as I had them break into groups, kids were kids and it was clear that we had before us an opportunity to actually exercise techniques to demonstrate freedom of speech and to allow others in their group to experience freedom as well,” said Lynton. “They learned that listening without judging another’s opinion was a valuable part of communication and that the more they listened, the more likely they too, would be heard.”

As a songwriter, Lynton’s interest is in evoking conscious thoughts and feelings from the listener. Her music takes on a tone of social and personal responsibility, while expressing, sometimes, a spiritual quality. Part of the workshop was to allow the students the experience of relating their personal message to the public and observing how their thoughts can positively effect a cause.

Each group wrote a verse for “Freedom Now.” Lynton created music to go with the lyrics, and after rehearsing, the students then sang their lyrics live as Lynton accompanied them on guitar and recorded their voices. Later, she added an orchestrated arrangement along with her own background vocals.

“It’s a bit of a backwards recording project, getting the final vocals first and then building the music around the kids voices,” Lynton. “Quite challenging, but worth the effort.”

No stranger to this type of process, Lynton recorded the songs for her CD release Voices of the People, Songs from Navajo Country in much the same manner, using authentic, unrehearsed traditional Navajo people singing and later creating the musical arrangements. In addition, she has a successful children’s CD, There’s A Dinosaur In The Backyard!.

Lynton is slated to appear in concert as part of the downtown Phoenix 36 hour-commemorative programming by KTVK Channel 3 where “Freedom Now” will be heard as well as Lynton’s song “For the Sake of Freedom Won,” which appears on her Navajo CD.

She is working on making the Freedom Now CD available for purchase by then with a portion of the proceeds benefiting charities relating to those affected by September11. She plans to have it available in several local stores and through the Web site cdbaby.com.

“I’m so proud of the students for expressing their thoughts and feelings so creatively, and especially for demonstrating through their actions their understanding of freedom,” said Lynton. “Isn’t that what we are all trying to do - be successful works in progress with the open mindedness and enthusiasm of a child?”

For more information on where you can hear or purchase Freedom Now, and on Lynton’s other CD releases, you may contact Lynton at lynnlynton@sedona.net.

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