Powerful voices: Josh Groban and Idina Menzel build ‘Bridges’ around human rights in Philly

It was all vocals and technical proficiency at the Josh Groban concert featuring special guest Idina Menzel  on Nov. 12. But the two were not shy from letting their activist voices sing too on their “Bridges” tour at the Wells Fargo Center.

In the second half of the concert, the two appeared on the stadium’s center stage and discussed family separation at the border, an issue which Groban believes is, or at least should be, nonpolitical.

“The subject to me is not actually political. I don’t feel this is a political statement, because I always feel we should keep politics outside of these kinds of walls,” said Groban to the crowd. “[But] whatever you decide, however you vote, you’re red or blue, how you vote in a democracy of what laws you want to put into place … how we treat human beings while we decide on those laws I feel is very important.” 

Groban then narrowed his message down to the true victims of the Trump administration’s policy.  

“Especially how we treat children is very important to us,” continued Groban. “That we don’t traumatize children, that we don’t traumatize families, that we don’t separate these families while we are trying to figure out how to deal with a very real issue.”

Following the comments, Groban and Menzel sang “Lullaby.” The song was first released on Groban’s 2006 album Awake. The duo revitalized the song for Singing You Home, a star-studded bilingual album that benefits non-profit Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services and Artists Striving to End Poverty. The collaborative album, which was head by Broadway actress Laura Benanti, was released on Oct. 26 of this year.

Earlier in the evening, Menzel hit a few political notes of her own. The original cast member of Rent’s Broadway show and film said she usually dedicates the musical’s “No Day but Today” to its creator Jonathan Larson, who passed away in 1996, but that evening she wanted to pay tribute to those suffering from today’s violence, including the forest fires in Northern California.

“I hope [Larson] you wouldn’t mind if we borrowed the song for a little pick me up maybe for all the violence and fires, realistically and metaphorically speaking,” said Menzel. 

While not mentioning the current White House administration, it was hard not to catch the inference.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Nov. 10, blaming state forest management for what is said to be the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history and threatened to cut federal funding as a result. Days into the fires on Nov. 12, Trump approved a expedited request for a major disaster declaration for California, which grants the state increased access to federal funds.

{{tncms-inline account=”Donald J. Trump” html=”<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!</p>&mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href=”https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1061168803218948096?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>November 10, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1061168803218948096″ type=”twitter”}}

The “Camp Fire” has claimed 48 lives to date and a statewide death toll of 50 people.

As Menzel sang “No Day but Today,” audience members in the mostly packed house took out their phones and shined their flashes, in lieu of candles, to pay homage.


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