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Melodies for a cause

Photo Courtesy/Michelle Albanese The Songbirds, a quintet of 10th grade girls, have an Andrew Sisters style flair to their music. The girls will perform at 3 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville to benefit the Tree of Life Ministries.
“ I just happened to be part of an amazing circle of girls who loved to sing and be together,” said Elizabeth Roden, a sophomore at Woodgrove High School in Purcellville. “I had never sung in front of people in such a small group before.”

The “small group” is Songbirds, a quintet of 10th grade girls who, after an innocuous start two years ago, have performed at venues as diverse as the Sunrise Senior Center in Leesburg and Nationals Park in Washington, where they sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” for 40,000 people.

“I was definitely nervous,” said Roden. “While every performance is an amazing experience, that was really exhilarating.”

Roden, along with fellow Songbirds Lauren Albanese, Darby Clinard, Sarah Midolo and Christine Stewart, will put on a benefit concert "Sing for Your Supper" Feb. 24 at Purcellville’s Franklin Park Arts Center.

The array of songs they will perform include "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "Earth Angel," "Lollipop," "Under the Boardwalk" and "Thank you for the Music."
They will also perform their title song "Sing for your Supper."

“We decided to support the Tree of Life Ministries,” explained Roden, noting that all ticket proceeds will go to the church. “We know lots of people who already work with the group, and it provides for the basic human needs of local people. We would all sing for free anyway just for the sake of performing, so we might as well use the chance to raise money for people who need it.”

Roden’s generous attitude came as no surprise to Ann Stewart, the “mom who had the drive” to bring the Songbirds together.

“They like to make a difference,” said Stewart, whose daughter Christine is in the group. “Some Saturdays they’re singing at retirement homes. Next week they’ll be doing the benefit concert. You know, whenever kids can get outside of themselves and see needs bigger than their own, it gives them better perspective. It allows them to see their lives more clearly.”

The Songbirds, according to their Facebook page, sings everything from jazz to musical theatre to holiday music. Described as having "an Andrew Sisters" style flair, they credit their influences as the music from Broadway, religion and the 1920 and 1930 eras.

Their mantra is "Music gives your soul the wings to fly."

The Songbirds were inspired in their charity work by the experience of Maddy Curtis, a Loudoun native who raised $2,000 for Haiti earthquake relief after appearing as a contestant on "American Idol."

“ It showed them that high school kids can do something positive for the community,” said Stewart. “These five girls are not "American Idol"stars, but anything they can do helps.”

Family members said the girls’ involvement in Songbirds benefits not only the community but the girls themselves.

“ Sarah has been singing longer than talking, and that's saying something,” said Sarah’s mother, Martha Midolo. “The most meaningful part of Songbirds for Sarah has been the cultivation of a passion into a reality. It is a wonderful life lesson to see dedication and hard work turn an idea, a dream, into something tangible and real.”

Elizabeth Roden, one of the group members, said pursuing her dreams with her four closest friends by her side was inspiring. The most important lesson she’s taken from her experience with Songbirds, however, is a practical one.

“I’ve learned that there has to be a lot of give and take on everyone's part to make any group work,” Roden explained. "You have to take responsibility for your mistakes and not get upset with others for theirs. You have to be flexible, and you have to search for opportunities instead of just waiting for them to come to you.”

For updates on Songbirds visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Songbirds.Sing.

If you go:
Songbirds: Sing For Your Supper will be at 3 p.m. Feb. 24 at Franklin Park Arts Center.
Tickets are $5. To reserve a seat, call 540-338-7973. For more information, visit http://www.franklinparkartscenter.org/season-schedule.php


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