Roberta Kirn

  • Songleader

If you can walk, you can dance.  If you can talk, you can sing.

This expression from Zimbabwe is a favorite of Roberta Kirn’s because it is her deeply held belief that singing, drumming and moving with others is not only fun, but profoundly healing.

After majoring in dance at Dartmouth and Sarah Lawrence colleges, Roberta moved to New York City where she pursued a professional dance career and went on to study singing and song leading with song leaders Ysaye Barnwell, Nick Page, Melanie DeMore and Bobby McFerrin.  After moving to the island of Martha’s Vineyard, she became the music teacher at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School for 10 years and has led Community Sings for all ages for the past 18.  In addition, she directs an annual Winter Concert and Community sing, a now 17-year old island tradition.  She has also had a strong connection to percussion, having participated in college in a West African drumming ensemble and playing and singing with a drum ensemble on Martha’s Vineyard for more than 20 years.

“My mission is to inspire as many people as I can to sing in community, wherever and whenever possible!”

In 2014 Roberta traveled to Nanyuki, Kenya where she had the opportunity to teach and learn songs from the girls of Daraja Academy, a school with the mission of educating exceptional teenage girls with outstanding leadership qualities.  The most inspiring part of her trip was the experience of being in a culture where music is not just a nice sidebar – it is food, sustenance and a necessary component of survival.

In 2015 she traveled to Haiti and returned to Kenya, continuing her work with the SONG EXCHANGE PROJECT, teaching songs from all over the world and learning new songs to share at home and on her travels, creating a web song.

Since that first trip she has continued to travel, teach and collect songs, returning to Kenya several times and bringing the work to South Africa, Zambia, Italy and Germany.