Feel the rhythm
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS At audition, Madeline Millard performs for choreographer Theressa DuBois of Lehighton's Deaf Welcome Center, as Lisa Giordano, wife of lead singer CMG and mom, Stephanie Millard, enjoy.
A dance music video for the deaf.
Well, what seems not to be possible, is possible and has happened in Carbon County thanks to a collaboration of New York City-based dance music recording artists and Lehighton's Deaf Welcome Center.
The track, "Weekend," featuring singer/rapper "Crazy" Michael Giordano, known to his following as CMG and featuring singer Carol Williams, is being promoted with a music video filmed in Carbon County and the Lehigh Valley, a movement styling which integrates American Sign Language with acting and dance movement, a choreography innovated by the DWC's Theressa DuBois.
"Weekend" is CMG's updated cover of a song that Mick Jackson, who wrote Michael Jackson's "Blame it On The Boogie," released in 1979. "It didn't go too far," CMG said. "Now, 30 years later, we remade it, and it's been going pretty well"
The fun song with an infectious beat and an easy to follow lyric is about having a good time on the weekend. "It's Friday night," said CMG. "It's been a long week. You are ready to go out with your friends to party and dance."
CMG and his wife, Lisa Giordiano, a Jim Thorpe High School alumnus, were visiting her old stomping grounds, checking out locations for a video, thinking about relocating, and trolling for antiques at a shop in Weissport. While Lisa shopped, CMG chatted with a woman.
"I was touring Carbon County and met CMG," Theressa DuBois said. "I found out that not only was he married to a local girl-a graduate from Jim Thorpe, but he is actively doing his music.
"Have you ever thought about making deaf welcome?" she asked. "We could easily add sign language to your music.
"CMG played the 'Weekend' track," she continued. "I was so impressed. They used all the all the basic signs a beginner would need to know, like the days of the week. They even encourage children to make the best of their youth. It's not what people usually think of, when they think of Hip-Hop."
As bringing deaf and hearing people together is the mission of the Deaf Welcome, DuBois saw this as the opportunity of "having deaf and hearing people to be able to enjoy the same music."
"I though was not only groundbreaking, but important," she said.
DuBois, who has a dance background, offered to teach the dance crew the required sign language and to choreograph a sign-dance.
DuBois, who produces and hosts a Deaf Welcome TV program tries to educate people that most deaf, even if they have difficulty understanding words, can still feel the rhythm. With sign-dance, the deaf can, not only feel the rhythm, but simultaneously understand the lyrics. She wants the "Weekend" video to serve as a prototype for a new generation of deaf welcome videos, and lead to a new Sign-Dance Grammy award category.
On the three minute and 56 second Weekend track, Brooklyn-based CMG sings lead and Queens-based Carol Williams of the Salsoul Orchestra sings back up. When they are not singing, CMG installs designer wall treatments, and Williams is a Police Athletic League educator in Far Rockaway.
After the recording was completed, work on the sign-dance video began with audition on Nov. 6 at the Deaf Welcome Center where mom Stephanie Millard, son Dylan and daughter, Madeline were among the local volunteer talent strutting their stuff with hopes of making the cut. The following Saturday, scenes were videotaped at Tommy's in Weissport. That evening, club crowd scenes were shot in Bethlehem.
The Weekend music video is planned for a second week in December release. A "Weekend" mix played against an earlier video is viewable at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=gm-K_8HX6i4.