Admit it. You want to sing. Why? Because it's good for you 

Good Vibrations

Every karaoke night has one: the guy who performs like he's auditioning for American Idol. He knows the songs, the moves, everything — except when to quit.

No surprise that one time I met a karaoke jockey ("KJ" in industry parlance) who was so committed to singing AC/DC's "Back in Black" just like Brian Johnson (with the same just-smoked-a-pack-of-Pall-Malls rasp) that afterward he puked a bucket of blood.

Seems he hemorrhaged his vocal cords. Couldn't talk for weeks.

Like I said, committed.

Singing isn't typically bloody, but most don't realize how good it is for you.

It exercises the lungs and upper-body muscles, and it encourages greater oxygen flow, all of which are linked to reduced stress and longevity. It's also been shown to ease chronic pain and even give an overall sense of well-being.

"It's really good for asthma," says Joy Allen, a music therapist at Trident Medical Center. She says that singing encourages deep breathing and lowers blood pressure.

So singing for your health comes down to physics: "Vibration of the human skull, as produced by loud vocalization, exerts a massaging effect on the brain," according to an article published in the journal Medical Hypothesis. "Vocal vibrations cause a kind of cleaning of the chemical cobwebs out of the head."

And you thought allergies explained your congestion.

More importantly for some is that singing establishes and reinforces the ties that bind — in families, between friends, and in the community at large. Bottom-line, experts and grass-roots advocates say, is that the community that sings together pretty much stays together.

And who would disagree?

Go to any church on a Sunday and you see it. Go to any coffee bar on a Monday night and you'll see it. Go to any school and you'll likely see it. Go to even the new Carolina First Arena, with its roaring hordes of CofC Cougar fans, and you'll see it.

People are singing. They are singing for each other and with each other.

"It literally connects people, because of the vibrations," Allen says. "When singing with others, you are communicating in physical and emotional ways."

As for the guy who shredded his vocal cords, was he trying to connect? Perhaps we'll never know. One thing's for sure: There are many ways for you to connect with your community this holiday season.

In your opinion, why is singing good for you?

"Our music comes from the cadence of the soul," says Lee Pringle, president of the CSO Gospel Choir, whose concert will be guest conducted by Vincent L. Danner and feature guest soloist Jennifer Bynum. "Gospel was brought here with African Americans who used the Bible to get through their days. It provided comfort and relief. Same for anyone who comes to experience our music. They can step back and let those rhythms and harmonies take them somewhere else."

The CSO Gospel Choir's Ninth Annual Gospel Christmas
Sat. Dec. 6, 8 p.m. $30. Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St. (919) 923-2791, www.csogospel.com

"Singing is healthy, especially in church," says Eric Johnson, music director at the nearly 300-year-old Johns Island Presbyterian Church. "It creates a deep sense of community." Johnson's vocal and handbell choirs promise an eclectic program that features an adaptation of Corelli's Concerto Grosso and familiar Christmas carols that everyone can sing along to. "Church choirs are not professional," he says. "As individuals, they can't be too strong. But together they can produce some amazing material. That's community."

Christmas Bells and Song at the Johns Island Presbyterian Church
Sun. Dec. 7, 7 p.m. Free. Reservations are encouraged due to limited space. Johns Island Presbyterian Church, 2550 Bohicket Road, Johns Island. (843) 559-9380, www.jipc.org

"Singing is good for you, because it's fat-free," says Ann Caldwell, leader of the Magnolia Singers. "It doesn't have any calories so you sing as much as you want to." Caldwell and the Magnolia Singers, an a cappella vocal ensemble dedicated to the preservation and performance of early southern music and spirituals, perform a program of African-American spirituals at Drayton Hall. Tickets include a catered reception and informal tours of the house by professional museum guides. "Singing is like a drug," Caldwell says. "I've been so high after performing that I had to go grocery shopping to settle down."

Annual Spirituals Concert at Drayton Hall
Sat. Dec. 13, 5:30 p.m.; Sun. Dec. 14, 3 and 5:30 p.m. $30-$35. Reservations required. Drayton Hall, 3380 Ashley River Road. (843) 769-2605

Other ways to experience singing this holiday season

Charleston Music Club's Holiday Carol-Fest

A free inter-generational event for middle- and high-school and adult instrumentalists who want to sight-read Christmas carols.

Mon. Dec. 1, 7 p.m. Free. Franke at Seaside, 1885 Rifle Range Road, Mt. Pleasant. (843) 795-7842

Vienna Boys Choir

This beloved group of young voices is set to ring in the holiday season in Charleston. Presented by the Charleston Concert Association.

Thurs. Dec. 4, 8 p.m. $15-$60, Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St. (843) 577-7400. www.charlestoncity.info

A Yuletide Madrigal Feast

Robert Taylor's Madrigal Singers sing an evening of sacred and secular traditional holiday songs with an extensive Renaissance feast.

Fri.-Sun. Dec. 5-7 at 7 p.m. $60. Alumni Memorial Hall, College of Charleston. (843) 953-6306

Celtic Christmas Concert

Na Fidleiri and the Taylor Festival Choir offer an evening of holiday music and dinner. Seating is limited to 100. Tickets in advance only. Proceeds benefit the Taylor Music Group.

Fri. Dec. 12, 7 p.m. $75. Old Hibben Methodist Church, 0 Hibben St. Mt. Pleasant. (843) 953-6306

Mt. Pleasant Christmas Spectacular

Sprinkles Entertainment promises to delight audiences young and old.

Fri.-Sat. Dec. 19-20, 7 p.m. Sun. Dec. 21, 2 p.m. $10-$18. The Darby Building, 302 Pitt St., Mt. Pleasant. (843) 849-2061. www.townofmountpleasant.com

Charleston Men's Chorus Christmas Concert

A concert of sacred music and joyful holiday lyrics at The Citadel.

Sat. Dec. 20, 5 p.m. $10-$15. Summerall Chapel, The Citadel, 171 Moultrie St. (843) 720-8505. www.cmchorus.com

Charleston Symphony Orchestra Messiah Sing Along

You know it. You love it. Now sing it. Handel's Messiah live and in concert.

Sun. Dec. 21, 6 p.m. $5-$15. Citadel Baptist Church, 328 Meeting St. (843) 577-7400. www.charlestonsymphony.com

A Child's Christmas in Wales

A co-production of Chamber Music Charleston and Actors Theater of South Carolina.

Tues. Dec. 23, 7 p.m. $15, Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting St. (843) 763-4941. www.chambermusiccharleston.org


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