Sing It Out Loud!


cropped-10687413_10205457300738581_1255344687835731503_o.jpgInspired by her own song,  “Who Made It Be That Way,” Mary Ann Vorasky formed All-In-Love.Org, a nonprofit project that offers music classes to women healing from domestic abuse.


After high school, Mary Ann moved to California from Ohio at age 17, took a job in a fast food restaurant, and rented a room in the house of the short-order cook’s landlady, Rosie. At Rosie’s house, Mary Ann wrote “Who Made It Be That Way” about having grown up in a violent home. She debuted the song at an open mic at the Troubadour at that time (where Elton JohnTom Waits and James Taylor played early in their careers), and a friend who came to see her asked why she sounded so angry when singing it. Mary Ann realized then that she had sung the entire song through clenched teeth. Despite wanting to tell the story of her home life, she did not feel comfortable sharing it then, nor after several re-writes over the years.

In 2013, when Suzanne Vega, whose song “Luka” about child abuse was a hit in 1987, spoke at a writer’s conference at Whittier College, Mary Ann went to the conference and asked her if there were any songs she had ever written that she didn’t feel able to play for people. Suzanne said there are songs she doesn’t play because she does not want to deal with how people react to what she’s singing about, but not because she doesn’t feel able to share the song.

In the summer of 2014 in “Recording and Producing in the Home Studio,” a Berklee College of Music online class, inspired by students who were producing rap and hip hop music, Mary Ann decided to try to bring that genre to “Who Made It Be That Way.”

“Rap / hip-hop music was not familiar to me because I thought it was mostly violent and exploitative of women, but a friend at work shared some of his favorites with me. I listened to Missy Elliot’s “Supa Dupa Fly,” the Fugees “Ready or Not,” Gorillaz “Feel Good,” and Nicki Minaj’s “Superbass,” and others, songs about love, happiness and feeling good. One morning after falling asleep listening to the Fugees, everything I said or sang sounded Jamaican! My friend reminded me that Chrissie Hynde is white and from Ohio like me, and raps in her rock songs, so I reconnected with my roots in Chrissie Hynde and created “Who Made It Be That Way” anew.”

The “Sing It Out Loud!” program seeks to undo the damage caused by abuse, tapping into each woman’s creativity and self-expressive abilities to build confidence, self-esteem, and feelings of connection and community. The ultimate goal is for each woman to become empowered to act with greater awareness on her own behalf in her life, to learn to communicate in ways that others can be receptive to, and to make more self-affirming choices in her relationships and life situations.

Sex on the Beach

I just read about a couple in Manatee County, Florida that must now register as convicted sex offenders for having sex on a public beach with other people present. Someone’s grandmother filmed it with her phone.  The defense claimed the woman was only dancing on the man.  I just happen to be visiting Florida next week, and since I believe society needs to become more open about loving sexuality in order to become more peaceful, the headline caught my attention.


Of course, the jury found that the couple wasn’t merely dancing, they were having sex on a beach in the presence of other people of all ages. But should that be punishable by 15 years’ imprisonment? Also, if it isn’t being done in the nuclear family setting where feelings of jealousy, abandonment, competition and other potentially explosive emotions could result due to the very limited social experience the nuclear family affords, would it be harmful for small children to see adults having sex?


Before going further, I would like to share my version of the song “I Hope You Dance,” and I’ve included a photo of a couple who really are just dancing on a Florida beach. The original version of this song by Lee Ann Womack was a beautiful country ballad heavily influenced by religion. I made the lyrics more secular, sped the song up and made some changes to the melody and rhythm.


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Again, I look to the bonobos, who have a peaceful society in which there is no war, no murder, no child abuse, where rape is not tolerated, where all children are wanted and fully parented by their mothers. They do not keep track of paternity. The bonobos do not idealize romance or parenthood, nor require or promote marriage. They have no dogma about such things. It is only in our money-driven world where these control mechanisms have been put into practice and are required to keep the social order we have in place. But our social order includes war, murder, rape, unwanted children, child abuse, and many other ills, which we are encouraged to pray to God about while we continue to tolerate the intolerable.


Well, my prayer is this: that we start following The Bonobo Blueprint. One way would be to not imprison this couple for 15 years, and to not require them to register as sex offenders.


Another way might be to no longer ask men to take financial and legal responsibility for children. It may be better if women who have children live in communities which are supportive of motherhood/co-parenthood, which offer affordable housing, and food.  Men would be welcome, respected, and loved, but not controlling.

I think we should be as much like the bonobos as we can to re-envision society and create it anew.