More than three years ago cellist Nora Willauer took an interest in documentary songwriting—creating songs from the spoken word to help tell a person’s story.
Willauer was intrigued by how therapeutic the art could be, especially after she started talking to women who are victims of sexual misconduct or domestic violence. So, in 2018, she started Documentary Songwriters to help tell these women’s stories.
“It started out as a individual project, but I ended up getting a lot of attention for it,” says Willauer, who recently earned her master’s degree in cello performance at Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM). “It just got bigger and bigger.”
Documentary Songwriters’ latest project is Songs of #MeToo, in which Willauer co-wrote songs with six women who have stories related to sexual misconduct and domestic violence.
“They are just women from all over,” she explains. “One woman is in her 70s and is from Maine, others are 25 and from Oregon and San Francisco. All of them are working in activism and are dedicated to making their lives better.”
The ensemble is comprised of Willauer, Cleveland Orchestra cellists Tanya Woolfrey and Martha Baldwin; local spoken-word artists and activist Lisa Martin; CIM graduates Cecelia Swanson, Eleanor Lee, Nora Willauer, Renée Richardson, and Kathryn Brunhaver; as well as up-and-coming vocalists from across the country.
The group will perform a virtual concert—Songs of #MeToo: A Prelude for Change—livestreaming tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 7 at 7 p.m.
“All 12 performers are highly trained and classically trained musicians, and we have three folk artists,” Willauer explains. “This is a way to reach an audience in a professional way.”
Willauer says "Songs of #MeToo" are paired with the preludes to J.S. Bach's Cello Suites.
Willauer says the concert is moving—starting with a woman’s story. “The songs are very raw and very powerful—they really grab you,” she says. “It’s eye-opening, inspiring, and probably sad. But a lot of people have triumphed over these happenings.”
Martin’s spoken word piece, “My Life is Worth Living,” is a part of the concert.
Guests can register, or learn more about the concert, at the Songs of #MeToo site, where they show will also be streamed on Friday.
Suggested donations are $25, with proceeds going to Documentary Songwriters and the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.