They say there's nothing quite as resilient as the human spirit - and this documentary proves that to be true. What an inspiration! If you're the type of person to sing out loud in your car on the way to work, you'll want to see what happens in this movie 100%.
A film that brilliantly details the effects of the pandemic on the choir community, "The Drive To Sing" reveals how even the corners we weren't watching - were dramatically affected by the spread of COVID-19. While many of us had concert tickets in our pockets when the world shut down - and followed along as our favorite artists canceled their performances, I would venture a bet that not too many of us considered what would happen to our local choir communities. Think about it. Of all the people potentially at risk, is there a group that would have been more at risk than a bunch of folks standing closely together and singing, no less? "The choir" went from being the single friendliest thing you can think of to an unintended deadly game of chance that was far too risky to participate in. So they try Zoom-choir for a while in the same way that many of you experienced work meetings and such – but can you imagine trying to feel the magic of music and the spirit of unity - while effectively still singing in complete isolation? It seems impossible, to say the least, and many of these folks desperately needed to find a different method that would somehow allow them to sing together in each other's presence. They even tried loudspeakers and eventually discovered they could broadcast the choir en-masse to the stereos in their cars, allowing them to sing as a group while still physically distant.
Starting with a few humble headsets, a mixing board, and some basic know-how, the choir community beat the odds and managed to spark itself back to life. With the help of a man named David Newman, who explained how to use wireless transmitters and technology to the choir's advantage, the rolling "isolation booths" of cars lining the streets and gathering in parking lots contained singers of all kinds. Bryce Denney, who also directed "The Drive To Sing," continued to refine and simplify the process, which opened the doors for everyone to participate online by outlining precisely what equipment was needed to participate in the choir - and maps to walk people through the steps to get there. An admirable pursuit, to say the least and inspiring on every level. As a person raised on music, I completely appreciated the lengths guys like Bryce and David went to - in order to work around the many restrictions imposed on society during the harshest times of the pandemic. In many ways, the results became even more enticing to participate in because for the average, everyday person - to hear their voice with others coming back through the airwaves was an exhilarating moment. Choir or not, you would definitely feel like a complete rockstar.
Where Bryce was beyond brilliant was in having the foresight required to film every step along the way. Not only was it helpful to his choir participants right there in the moment, but he also ended up with all this incredible footage to make "The Drive To Sing" later on. Kathryn Denney, Bryce's wife, is a perfect example of what the pure joy of music looks like in human form and shows directly how necessary sound is to our souls. To be fair, you can sincerely see it in everyone onscreen in this documentary. It wasn't all that long ago that we were more or less locked up in our isolated ways, wherever we were, and you can remember how lonely those times were, just like you can remember what the first taste of your freedom returning was like as well. A lot of that is what you see in this film, you see the joy of the human spirit returning, and you see what a pivotal role music truly played in all that. It's a heartwarming documentary, and it's filmed as such. It was genuinely fantastic to see this community of performers beat the odds and find a way to do what they love after so long.
Using my own background as a guide - being from the music scene, particularly the independent music scene – I've got extensive experience with all kinds of wires and trying to figure out different workarounds for all sorts of technological issues. For me, a lot of what "The Drive To Sing" is about on "that" level seemed like an impressive solution for sure, but also a logical conclusion to the problem overall. That being said, I'm not everyone, and I fully understand how the average person who can plug in a microphone is not at all someone who gets how the rest of the technology needs to interact - for something as large as this. So for those people with no experience in the audio/video realms of the world, a lot of what's accomplished in this film is quite the revelation in terms of what can be achieved. I suppose I looked at "The Drive To Sing" on a much less technical level because of that; to me, this film was much more about the spirit of the people involved and their desire to continue making the music they love. That's where the real heart is in "The Drive To Sing," and it's somewhat important not to let that get caught up in the tangled mess of wires that this could have been. I loved how Denney's movie not only shows us the journey of the many choirs they follow and participate in, but also authentically documents what the world was going through at the specific time during the pandemic era. It shows how we felt, behaved, struggled, and eventually rebounded and reconnected with each other - as we found our way through it all.
I personally feel like "The Drive To Sing" deserves a solid four stars out of five. Having written that, it's important to note that my love of all things music runs seriously deep; it's possible that this film could be a bit dry for people that don't share that same passionate interest. Like, I'd get it if someone out there was hesitant about watching a film about choir groups and people singing in their cars - based on some synopsis you'd read on paper, or even this review, perhaps. But I can promise you, there's a whole lot more to it than that, and "The Drive To Sing" is really something you must experience to understand. It's inspiring to watch, and an important part of our history preserved. "The Drive To Sing" reminds us how crucial it is to let the joy we find in life be heard aloud - by one and all.