BANGOR, Maine — In pajama pants and a worn-in t-shirt, Joseph Meyers decided to take to his Brewer basement last Tuesday night, turning on a microphone and pressing record on a camera. A karaoke track for the Weeknd’s newest hit “Blinding Lights” pulses on, as Meyers dances along, waving his arms without a care.
That video would soon become a part of a community of more than a quarter of a million people — but for Meyers in that moment, it was just a blissful few minutes, trying to relieve some stress in the current state of the world.
“I (was) in my basement just jamming out,” Meyers laughed during a video call with NEWS CENTER Maine. “It’s one of those ‘sing-and-dance-like-nobody’s-watching’ kind of things.”
After jokingly branding his video on Facebook as “quarantine karaoke”, Meyers had a thought — what if there was a place online where everyone could share their music, covers or originals, country to heavy metal? He started the ‘Quarantine Karaoke’ Facebook group, and from there, it’s all history.
“I’ve gotten hundreds of messages of gratitude and (people saying), ‘Thank you so much for thinking to create this and giving us all a place to pull together,'” Meyers explained.
The group has more than 250,000 members and counting, representing all 50 states and a number of different countries. Anyone is allowed to upload a video to showcase their talents or to just have some fun.
“You can be a small child to an elderly person — all shapes and sizes and races and anything,” Meyers said. “It doesn’t matter. Everyone is loving and supportive.”
It’s a community-like environment that group members like Erin Fletcher from Albion say they appreciate, while quarantining during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think a lot of people, you know, myself included — we’re feeling secluded,” Fletcher told NEWS CENTER Maine via FaceTime. “It feels like we’re kind of alone, but in this group we’re not.”
That feeling of solidarity isn’t one that’s surprising to the experts. Kate Beever, a board-certified music therapist with Maine Music and Health, says that music can be good for mental health and healing.
“It’s a really good (distraction), and I mean that pretty literally,” Beever said. “You can actually literally distract the brain away from pain and anxiety by listening to music.”
That’s exactly what these group members are doing, as ‘Quarantine Karaoke’ continues to gain national and international attention.
“I will tell you, it’s been a lifesaver mentally and emotionally,” Fletcher expressed.
It’s a group that Meyers says he hope will live on, even when quarantining as a precaution against COVID-19 comes to an end.
“It’s one of those things where such a community has been built that it feels like family in a lot of ways,” Meyers emphasized.
You can join the ‘Quarantine Karaoke’ Facebook group here.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.newscentermaine.com/coronavirus