South Street Seaport Museum’s monthly sea-music events Sea Chanteys and Maritime Music––the original NYC Chantey Sing––continues in-person and virtually on Sunday, March 5, 2023, at 2pm ET, in the Seaport Museum galleries at 12 Fulton Street, NYC, and on Zoom. This Winter, each of the Museum’s sea chantey events includes a 45-minute performance by various local artists singing a variety of traditional maritime work songs and ballads. Attendees are invited to sing along with the featured guests or just sit back and enjoy their performance. Following the set, the stage will open for a round-robin where attendees––in-person and virtual––can sing and share a chantey of their choice that will be heard by all. Singers of all levels, as well as listeners, are welcome to join in the choruses throughout the event, lead or request a song in the round-robin, or just listen as we present traditional maritime work songs and ballads on the first Sunday of every month. The event is FREE. For more information and to sign up, visit seaportmuseum.org/chanteysing.
Before and after the Chantey Sing, in-person participants are invited to tour the Seaport Museum gallery exhibitions at 12 Fulton Street, as well as visit the 1885 tall ship Wavertree and the 1908 lightship Ambrose on Pier 16, all free of charge.
“The fanciful lyrics and portraits of a far-off life at sea were a perfect balm for
people across the country and world.” – Daily News
“The Museum is really open about this idea that some beloved sea chanteys are racist or sexist. I love that they call it out! There’s also a chat where you can talk about this and talk about the context as the song is happening.”
– Jennifer Vanasco, WNYC Radio
This Winter, South Street Seaport Museum’s Chantey Sing will use a hybrid format, offering options to join both in-person and online, having evolved into the preeminent virtual Chantey Sing in the world. The program features professionals and amateurs, old salts and new initiates, from across the street, across the country, and across the pond. South Street Seaport Museum actively recruits and supports new and diverse singers for each song.
“A fine mix of familiar songs and some new ones that should be better known. The fact that performers came from all over, from the Netherlands, the UK, Canada, and across the US, gave a wonderful feeling of this special musical community we all share,” wrote one participant.
“This venue draws some excellent, knowledgeable singers and I always learn. Today I came away with four songs I wanted to learn,” wrote another participant. “Joy!”
Old-time sailors on long voyages spent months living together in close quarters with no outside entertainment, no new people to interact with, a monotonous diet, and each day pretty much just like the day before. How did they keep their spirits up? Singing together! Work songs and fun songs, story songs, and nonsense songs, songs of nostalgia and songs of up-to-the-moment news—all were part of the repertoire onboard. At South Street Seaport Museum, the chantey tradition lives on. March’s Chantey Sing includes a performance by Bonnie and Dan Milner, featuring traditional chanteys from around the world, as well as maritime songs and ballads with plenty of opportunity for singing along.
“Sea chanteys fit in beautifully with the New York tradition,” said Laura Norwitz. “Sailing ships were a melting pot of languages and cultures, and chanteys and forecastle songs, along with hard work and shared challenges, helped sailors merge into one community. When we sing these songs today—some old, and some updated with up-to-the-moment lyrics—we celebrate our connection with our maritime heritage and also with the community we create by enjoying home-made music together.”
Be sure to review the latest COVID-19 protocols before attending.
Bonnie and Dan Milner sing sea chanteys and traditional maritime songs in accompanied harmony. Each is also a strong solo vocalist. As members of the New York Packet, they have hosted and performed at both live and online Chantey Sings at South Street Seaport Museum. They have appeared at festivals and in concerts throughout the U.S. and overseas. Dan’s background of growing up in a singing Irish family, informs his repertoire and singing style. His CD, Irish Pirate Ballads, received two Indie Award nominations in 2011. Bonnie’s interest in sea songs was sparked by her friendship with the last working shantyman, Stan Hugill. She is a founding member of the renowned all-woman maritime quartet, The Johnson Girls.
The New York Packet was established over 30 years ago as the official maritime singing group of South Street Seaport Museum. First singing on the iconic vessel Peking, they have endeavored ever since to keep chantey singing alive in lower Manhattan. Even when the Seaport encountered “heavy weather” during and after hurricane Sandy, the Packet found places to fill with sound while awaiting a return to their beloved ships at the Seaport Museum. In May of 2019, the moment came when the Packet could return and sing aboard Wavertree. It was a magical and welcome moment.
About the South Street Seaport Museum
The South Street Seaport Museum, located in the heart of the historic seaport district in New York City, preserves and interprets the history of New York as a great port city. Founded in 1967, the Museum houses an extensive collection of works of art and artifacts, a maritime reference library, exhibition galleries and education spaces, working 19th century print shops, and an active fleet of historic vessels that all work to tell the story of “Where New York Begins.” seaportmuseum.org
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