National musician grows through participation in Overture programs

Dana Perry

“Working on the Lullaby Project challenged me. It provided a way to look at things from a different perspective. I stepped out of my comfort zone and grew as an artist by trying something new and collaborative.”

Relocating to Madison about eight years ago, singer/songwriter Dana Perry discovered a vibrant music and arts scene, which helped her quickly fall in love with her new community. She began participating in Madison Area Music Association (MAMA) events and soon become familiar with Overture Center, where MAMA holds its annual awards ceremony.

“My band played on Capitol Theater stage in 2017 and it was so cool,” said Perry. “It’s really a beautiful space.”

When the director of the MAMA Awards mentioned that Overture was looking for teaching artists for its Lullaby Program, Perry knew in her heart it would be an amazing project, and she couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

“I’m a big believer in the divinity of music, its power and what it can bring to us, especially when a song is written with such intention,” said Perry. “And here was this opportunity to work with a mom and help start her baby’s life in such a positive way. I had to be a part of it.”

The Lullaby Project, piloted in Madison in 2019/20 through Overture Center and Harambee Village Doulas, uses the creative process of songwriting to help new and expectant parents express their hopes and dreams for the future through music. The project pairs local singer-songwriters, mothers and mothers-to-be to create personal lullabies for their children, supporting maternal health, aiding child development and strengthening the bond between parent and child.

Perry was paired with Tia Murray, mother of five children and founder of Harambee Village Doulas, to write a song for Murray’s newborn daughter, Rosie. Their creation is titled “Sleep Little Rosie.” According to Perry, Rosie knows her song: “Her mom has sung it to her so many times, when she hears it, she dances along, her legs kicking, a big smile on her face.”

“Sleep Little Rosie” was submitted to Carnegie Hall and featured in their virtual Lullaby Celebration Concert with other lullabies from around the country.

“Working on the Lullaby Project challenged me,” said Perry. “It provided a way to look at things from a different perspective. I stepped out of my comfort zone and grew as an artist by trying something new and collaborative.”

In June, Perry again contributed to an Overture program, Voice Your Heart, in which members of the community were invited to share where their heart was in this moment using art. The campaign invited the submission of signs, songs, spoken word, poetry, essays/reflections, photos, doodles and drawings to be shared digitally or in a special Voice Your Heart gallery.

A few months earlier, in late March, Perry had returned home from a singing tour to find everything shut down from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I couldn’t believe how empty the streets were. I couldn’t see my friends. All of my gigs were cancelled. The whole music and arts community was suffering,” said Perry. “It was hard on my soul. I was bummed. And when I feel this way, I need to write a song.”

Not wanting to say it on her own, Perry collaborated with several Madison area musicians and friends in music to create a song titled “All Come Outta This,” which encourages everyone to hang in there. The video submission shows how local musicians are getting through the pandemic.

“It’s a song from us to the music community,” said Perry. “We needed a song to heal. Fear is hard on the heart and immune system. We can’t be scared. We need to put out good vibes and give others hope and inspiration. The song says, ‘this is hard, but we’re in this together, and we’re going to heal and make it through this.”

Perry appreciates her budding relationship with Overture and looks forward to the Lullaby Program next year. “I’m so glad Overture supports the Lullaby Program,” she said. “It’s such a beautiful program, full of good feelings.”

Perry also looks forward to viewing the galleries and supporting local art and music when Overture reopens.

“I love that you can get everything—from international to local performances—at Overture. It connects us on an international level while still making us feel supported on a local level,” she said.

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