Group Effort

A massive amount of cooperation makes the Shine A Light series truly shine

According to an old proverb, “A songbird doesn’t sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.”

I love the imagery and sentiment of that quote. I also find it amusing that no one seems sure who said it first.

Over the ages, the saying has been attributed to poets, authors, critics, and anonymous Chinese sages. Perhaps the uncertainty of the source merely reinforces its meaning.

I’ve been involved with the Shine A Light concert series from the start, from the first meeting when organizers pitched the idea to one of the board members of the Light Up the Queen Foundation. I’ve never used my access to the magazine to write about it personally until now.

From Day One, the concept of Shine A Light has been an ambitious premise. It’s not just the fact that every year the concert showcases dozens of solo musicians and members of various bands playing together—sometimes for the first time—but also that the line-up of musicians changes on every song throughout the night.

I don’t know of any other show like it in the country.

Maybe no one else is crazy enough to try.

There is also another important fact: This show raises money for The Light Up the Queen Foundation, a local non-profit organization that seeks to inspire children in at-risk communities by cultivating interest and education in the arts.

In other words, the musicians are giving back, hoping our efforts might provide musical opportunities to kids growing up in less fortunate circumstances than  we were given growing up.

That might be the one thing the musicians do agree on.

Almost every other choice, decision and option is possibly up for debate. Everyone has an opinion. Imagine ordering two pizzas for six people and trying to make everyone happy with the right combinations of toppings. Now picture picking 30-plus songs for 50-plus musicians to play, on and relish the complete madness of it all.

That said, every year, this show lifts The Queen theater a few feet off the ground. The last one was named “Best Fundraiser” by Delaware Today. Cooperation and teamwork does that. Beyond the musicians themselves, there are dozens of other volunteers who put hundreds of hours into this show. But by the time the last note of the night is played, everyone is smiling.

This month we are focusing on optimism and innovation. Shine A Light offers both.

The show is innovative because every song features an entirely different combination of musicians. It’s also optimistic because, ultimately, it’s a celebration of music in every way possible.

I hope this show goes on forever. Long after all of us are gone, future generations of musicians will be arguing about pizza toppings, then getting on stage to play their hearts out. And when they look back at all the people who started it, they won’t know our names or care about what answers we had.

They’ll just know that we had a song.

For tickets to Shine A Light, visit

So, what do you think? Please comment below.