Area churches perform weekly ‘songfest’ for GSS-Albion residents

STRUMMING CLASSICS — Johnson originally performed religious songs and patriotic tunes for GSS-Albion residents, but soon added some classic country to her setlist.

By Gabby Christensen
When she’s not at her day job as a laboratory scientist at the Boone County Health Center, Albion native Jill Johnson can usually be found carrying out another one of her passions—music.
Johnson especially enjoys singing and performing with others. Perhaps her favorite venue is the Good Samaritan Society-Albion.
In fact, every third Thursday of the month, Johnson and a group of women from St. Michael’s Catholic Church meet at GSS-Albion to entertain residents with some classic, ‘old-school’ music.
Johnson, who grew up listening to most of the music she now performs, refers to this event as “songfest.”
Other area churches also take turns visiting the residents throughout the month.
Johnson said this allows residents a chance to interact with others in the community.
The activity was first introduced after the GSS-Albion reached out to area churches to see if anyone would be able to sing for the residents on a monthly basis.
“The home saw the need to break up the day with activities such as this,” Johnson said. “It’s an activity for the residents to do and get out of their rooms to be among people. When they hear a song they remember, they sing along and it brings back good memories—they love it.”
Johnson said it’s reminiscent of a football game when everyone sings the fight song together.
“It’s a commonality—they’re singing and enjoying this activity together,” Johnson said. “I just don’t think people realize the need that’s there and the joy it brings to the residents.”
Johnson, who comes from a long line of musicians, said the songfest is therapeutic for her, as well.
“My dad is really the one who got me started with music,” Johnson said. “He loved to sing and always wanted to play an instrument, but never had the chance growing up. But because of this, he made sure I had that chance.”
In fact, Johnson doesn’t recall a family gathering during her childhood where music wasn’t involved.
She first began playing the guitar in junior high after her father insisted she take lessons.
Since then, she has been performing in the church choir for nearly 50 years now. Currently, she co-directs two choirs and gives guitar lessons to area students.
And while many families pass down antiques or heirlooms, Johnson’s family has remained intent on passing music onto future generations.

SINGING ALONG — Before the songfest begins, each resident is handed a binder including lyrics to all the songs. Residents then participate in the songfest by singing as a group.

Read the complete story in the Sept. 26 Albion News & Petersburg Press, Print and E-Editions.