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Meet Alive & Kickin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alive & Kickin. They and their team share their story with us below:

About Alive & Kickin Our mission is to give a voice to seniors through personal stories and popular songs, empowering our members to entertain and enlighten multi-generational audiences.

Founded in 2010 by Michael Matthew Ferrell, Alive & Kickin is the Twin Cities’ premier senior rock ensemble. It began its journey as a touring vocal ensemble of seniors who rock. The rock ensemble is comprised of seniors ages 60-99+. Now, a full decade later, Alive & Kickin has grown to redefine what it means to grow older. Alive & Kickin’ supports and serves our senior population through the craft of music, empowerment of self-expression and the belief that you’re never too old to pursue your passion.

The enthusiastic ensemble has been performing to sold-out crowds at Twin Cities theaters for several years and tours around the upper midwest to a myriad of venues from the Minnesota State Fair to senior-living communities.

Alive & Kickin gives voice to seniors through personal stories and popular songs, empowering its members to entertain and enlighten multi-generational audiences. The highly inspirational group of spirited and charismatic seniors spread their musical message as they explore contemporary genres of music ranging from rock & roll and pop to gospel and Motown.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Alive & Kickin by its nature brings up many obstacles, working with individuals with physical challenges, health conditions, and memory loss. Not only is the music high energy and difficult, but we memorize it!! As an organization, we push our performing cast to overcome these challenges.

We have dealt with the loss of cast members throughout the years. It’s inspiring to watch the senior cast and staff rally around one another in these times, often finding greater dedication and enthusiasm for singing on behalf of those who have left us.

In the past few years, COVID has made the Performing Arts and working with seniors incredibly challenging. We learned new technologies, invested in protective equipment, and kept rehearsing through the pandemic. In addition to combating senior isolation by providing a community space, we’ve found new ways to perform and share our stories. We’re excited to be able to present live shows again.

In June of 2021, we lost our fearless founder and artistic director, Michael Matthew Ferrell, who was an inspiration to all who met him. The 2021-22 season has been an impressive show from the cast, staff, and board of newfound determination to come together and keep the organization going.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Since the organization’s founding in 2010, Alive & Kickin (A&K) has worked exclusively with older adults ages 60-99+. Our vocal music programming uses the power of song and storytelling to combat the silent issue of isolation and related negative health impacts experienced by seniors in our community, which have worsened due to COVID. Through participatory music experiences that uplift, unite, and inspire, we provide seniors with meaningful opportunities for social connection and building community, while engaging audiences of all ages.

Our two primary programs include:

Seniors Rock Academy cast programs: This program has two tracks, Rockers and Rollers. Both tracks participate in weekly rehearsals and annual community performances.

SingOUT!, a no-cost open community musical, social, and community-building gathering for people with all abilities, welcoming 60-100 attendees per month.

To our knowledge, A&K is unique among performing arts organizations in Minnesota. Giving seniors a voice, redefining aging, inspiring others, and honoring seniors’ experience, talents, and abilities allows us to have a broad reach. We are passionate about our love for seniors, and through our work, provide an inclusive space for community connection, purpose, inspiration, and music-making. A&K enhances both the lives of our program participants, as well as the lives of our audiences. Through the craft of music and empowerment of self-expression, A&K supports, serves, and elevates older adults, who are often among the most overlooked and marginalized members of our community.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
The resilience of seniors is not to be underestimated. The seniors’ desire for community and connection pushed them past obstacles they face, including fears of technology (zoom, Facetime, recording themselves for virtual performances).

We also learned how to engage with our audiences in a virtual space and present the same inspirational music and message from behind screens and devices. Tackling these projects was certainly a new and untested venture, but combined with the will of our senior cast, and the spectacular ingenuity of our staff, we were able to produce truly uplifting performances that kept our familiar brand of entertainment.

We’ve also learned how to take care of one another from a safety perspective with new COVID protocols in place. Moving forward, we can not only mitigate the risk of COVID, but have applied these practices to better protect our seniors and staff from regular colds and other common diseases.

Contact Info:


Image Credits
Tom Sandelands
Dan Norman

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