Silver Linings concert brings East Lansing together after violence

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Johnny Noone

Musicians Reggie Harris, Rev. Robert Jones, Matt Watroba and Josh White Jr. play songs for healing during the Silver Linings concert at East Lansing Public Library.

EAST LANSING, Mich.—The East Lansing Library hosted the Silver Linings concert on April 12. The concert was put together for the people of East Lansing to come together and heal after the Feb. 13 shooting at Michigan State. The concert showcased four musicians who have connections to the area: Reggie Harris, Rev. Robert Jones, Matt Watroba and Josh White Jr. The four played a variety of genres including blues, folk, gospel and more. They also told stories related to their songs and facilitated conversation with the crowd. 

“For me, music is a way of healing and after the event that took place, we thought having a concert was a good idea,” said Phyllis Thode, the community development specialist for the East Lansing Library. “They are good friends to each other, good friends to me, and good friends to the community. Having them together felt like a natural fit for our community to move forward.” 

Audience member Susan Iekel thought that the music was a great way for the community to heal. “Music is a great way to bring the community together. It can give everyone the strength to move forward and help each other out,” said Iekel. 

Greg Spencer and his wife were fans of Josh White Jr. and have been living in East Lansing for around 50 years. “It hurts to see the community that we love feel so much pain. We think it was a wonderful idea to have a concert and bring the community together. I just hope we can continue to bring peace to East Lansing,” said Spencer. 

In a Twitter post before the concert, East Lansing Public Library Director Kristin Shelley said, “We are grateful that these four amazing musicians are coming together for the East Lansing community to help us continue to heal after the horrific shootings at MSU in February. We want the community to be together, to have a space to grieve and to heal together with wonderful music.”

The library has access to counselors from the Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties, many of whom were also present at the concert. The counselors have open hours at the library from 12:30–5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The library also offers a range of mental health and community programs for all ages throughout the week. These programs include science, poetry, music programs and special events for younger children. 

“We are called the community classroom, and we loved to be called that. All our programs are free to attend and do not need a library card [to participate]. We just want to welcome all members of the community to the library,” said Thode.

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