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UofSC School of Music celebrates everyday heroes with music

While traditional venues were closed due to the pandemic, local musicians used innovative ways to build bridges and improve community morale.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — As COVID-19 forced communities to shut down, many people suddenly found themselves on the front lines of a public health disaster. Whether out of necessity or a sense of duty, these essential workers kept showing up, despite little recognition and great personal risk. 

To recognize and better understand the challenges confronting these champions, the University of South Carolina School of Music hosted Concert Truck Community Heroes.

On Friday, News19’s Brandon Taylor spoke with Dr. David Cutler, Director of Music Entrepreneurship with the USC School of Music.

“As musicians, we are not able to administer vaccinations or treat people suffering from this virus. Yet our artform’s unique ability to bring joy, build community, and tell stories led to this powerful idea,” said Cutler.

Celebrating Local Heroes began by identifying a diverse mosaic of ten extraordinary South Carolina-based workers. These individuals represent sectors that have shown great courage and commitment during Covid: custodial, mental health care, restaurants, nursing, doctors, teachers, artists, grocery, delivery drivers, EMTs.

Each hero was paired with a composer and ensemble.  Heroes were then honored at public events aboard “The Concert Truck,” a mobile music venue invented by two School of Music alumni.

The final chapter of this project involves a facilitated conversation around community issues. At a time when so many of us feel isolated and divided, this presents a rare opportunity to learn about the experiences, frustrations, and desires of diverse neighbors.

“As hard as it has been, it would be a shame to write off this period as a wasted year,” said Cutler. “The power of our music and visioning achieved something nobody else could. Learning from these amazing neighbors has left us inspired, energized, and optimistic about the future.”

This final discussion takes place May 14 at 6 p.m. in Johnson Hall located in the Darla Moore School of Business at UofSC.  The discussion is closed to the public due to the ongoing pandemic.