Making us Happy When Skies are Gray

Tony award winning actress, Laura Benanti created #Sunshine Songs, inviting students from across the country to share videos of their performances that were cancelled due to COVID-19. #Sunshine songs went viral, grabbing the attention of millions of viewers. Laura and her friend Kate Detier-Maradei, a community activist, created Sunshine Concerts to bring these uplifting performances to audiences who aren't active on social media.

Sunshine concerts beautifully evolved into a free concert series to connect intergenerational audiences- lending access and attention to senior living communities, children in hospitals and other organizations serving vulnerable populations- including Friends of Karen.

On May 30th, Sunshine Concerts featured the artwork from Friends of Karen children and siblings : Alexa & Nicholas, Hector, Sophia and Layla, and will feature FOK musical performances in upcoming concerts. What a dream for these incredibly deserving kids to share their creative expression and moving narratives with such a large and captive audience.

When initially meeting Ms. Benanti to discuss this opportunity, FOK staff members were admittedly starstruck. Though it quickly became clear that Laura Benanti is so much more than her jaw dropping, sometimes side splitting talent, striking beauty and voice that could (and did!!) bring tears to your eyes. Laura and Kate are both equally passionate and compassionate, using their platforms to promote joy, love and light in a time of darkness. Perhaps most heartening though was that they also saw the FOK children as we do: marveling at their strength and resilience with warmth, tenderness and respect.

Laura and Kate, thank you for helping our children shine. Thank you for showing us goodness in this tumultuous time. Thank you for making us all happy when skies are gray.

Tune in again Saturday June 20th, 6pm for another #Sunshinesongs featuring Friends of Karen kid "Dream".

Follow Laura Benanti on IG @Laurabenanti