The Spirit of Yes

I was taking an afternoon snooze one lovely afternoon in the summer of 2009.  In that delicate place between wakefulness and sleep, a song started unspooling into my mind.

This rarely happens to me as a songwriter.  The inspiration for a song usually comes in an instant.  Then it takes diligent hours at the piano refining melody, organizing chord structures, detangling lyrics, and waiting for that certain “click” that tells me it’s finished.

I brought the new song to The Morning Star Singers, a volunteer hospice choir I founded in 2007.  When we sang it at our rehearsal that evening, they jumped in with breathtaking harmonies and unbridled enthusiasm.  My yoga-teaching friend Margie Weaver suggested that we add a gesture to the singing: making a “Y” of our upraised arms.

The song found a new voice when I was emceeing the International Coach Federation conference.  There I witnessed a sea of 1,200 people from 46 countries singing the one-word chorus – “YES!” – with hands in the air.  It’s a sight and sound that I will never forget.

Since then thousands of people have sung the song at conferences, retreats, community sings, workplaces, and in their cars as they commute with my CD playing (so I’m told).

Just this week my beloved friend Lucy Matthews Heegaard finished the music video version of the song.  Here’s the link…

I wonder how singing the word “yes” over and over these past two years has changed me?  And I wonder what effect it has had on the thousands of people who have raised hands and voices in the Spirit of Yes?

And most importantly, what might the Spirit of Yes have to offer the world?

About Barbara McAfee

Barbara is a voice coach, singer/songwriter, keynote speaker, and author who merges lessons from 12 years in organization development with the transformational power of sound. Her book, Full Voice: The Art & Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) was a #1 Amazon bestseller in Business Communication. The book is based on her 25 years as a voice coach, supporting people from many professions in learning how to access the full power and expression of the voice in service to their work and relationships. Barbara’s musical keynotes blend practical content, sophisticated humor, and thought-provoking questions on topics including voice, leadership, and engagement. She was “the band” for Margaret Wheatley’s Women’s Leadership Revival Tour, which visited 15 North American cities. She also appears with authors Parker Palmer and Peter Block. Barbara has produced seven CD's of mostly original music and is founder of the Morning Star Singers, a volunteer hospice choir in the Twin Cities. She lives across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
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