Finding a Family at HEAVY AND LIGHT.

By Sara ZimmermanJanuary 15, 2014

I can’t decide if there are not enough words to describe HEAVY AND LIGHT, or if there are no words capable of doing it justice. However, there are two things I am certain of: 1) Those few hours spent at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, among strangers who became family, were some of the best of my entire life, and 2), I was incredibly lucky to have been able to share the experience with a friend—the same friend who, only a few weeks earlier, had sat on the floor of my living room with me, hugging, and crying, and being painfully, terrifyingly honest. With absolute certainty, I can say that throughout HEAVY AND LIGHT, I have never felt less alone in my entire life.

The evening opened with a brief video, reminding the HEAVY AND LIGHT family (I’m going to keep using the word “family” here to describe every single person in attendance, because it seems the most accurate description possible) that the evening was neither a benefit show nor a fundraiser, but about being present. HEAVY AND LIGHT was about each person coming through the door, about joining the community in a ground-up conversation about being a human. It was about the people who left clutching the pamphlet of local mental health resources, saving it for later, for tomorrow, for a rainy day, for a friend.

After brief introductions, Mary Lambert took the stage. To say she brought down the house would be an understatement. She stunned us into silence, and then she brought us back up. She was a reminder that we laugh, and we sing, and we cry, and, most importantly, we are more than the sum of our parts. And so the tone for the evening was set.

There was no “best” part of HEAVY AND LIGHT, as it too was more than the sum of its parts. Anis Mojgani showed us that the evening was for us, that we should “shake the dust.” Tristan Prettyman confirmed that an acoustic guitar is a powerful instrument for good. Kevin Breel was a refreshing reminder of the importance and beauty of words. Amanda de Cadenet proved, once again, that you will never truly know a person until you sit down across from them and listen to their journey of how they made it to today. Jamie was, quite simply, the embodiment of To Write Love On Her Arms. The Summer Set transported us beyond the walls of the House of Blues and had us riding, and laughing, and singing along Sunset Boulevard. And Jon Foreman? Suffice it to say that hundreds of people coming to the collective conclusion that “forgiveness might be right where we fell” certainly dared us to move.

The evening ended with the most beautiful rendition of “Lean on Me” I have ever heard. Every performer came on stage and sang their hearts out, alongside the family they had so effortlessly created. We were heavy, and we were light. We leaned on one another, and, despite false starts and stumbles, we had all made it to January 11, 2014, to the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard—to HEAVY AND LIGHT.

I have been obsessing over one of the first things that Mary Lambert shared with us: That, long before she knew of HEAVY AND LIGHT, Anis’ beautiful words had saved her from a terrifying downward descent. That they had the privilege of sharing the stage that evening was nothing short of a miracle. I feel the same about having been at HEAVY AND LIGHT. It made me scared and overjoyed; it made me terrified and hopeful. But most of all, HEAVY AND LIGHT made me glad that I still am.

On Sunday, January 19, HEAVY AND LIGHT will make its way to its next home—its first home—in Orlando. I have never wanted to jump on a plane to Florida so badly in my entire life, but if you’re in the area, I hope you’ll be there. A family will be waiting for you.


HEAVY AND LIGHT Orlando takes place this Sunday, January 19, at House of Blues in Orlando. You can still buy tickets here or at the House of Blues box office. 

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Comments (2)

  1. Allissa

    This describes that night so perfectly. I’ve been struggling to find words for it. It was incredible. That night changed me. I’ve been to H&L before but this year was something else. It made us laugh and cry, sing at the top of our lungs and simply stand there listening to words that made you feel so important. That night moved me beyond anything that has ever moved me before. Thank you all for putting it on, it meant so much to me, to all of us.

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  2. Rachel

    The only thing I can say is that as a participant in this family that was created at Heavy and Light, I am in love with how this blog captures the precise essence of that night. If we could’ve all taken a family photo together I can guarantee you I’d have it framed and sitting on my mantle in this moment. I’d invite everyone in that room to my ugly sweater Christmas party any day. I sincerely felt profound love for every single human in a 100 yd radius of me that night; never have I ever felt more enveloped in love. Never have I ever believe so vehemently in love’s capability to foster community. I am more dedicated to my health and happiness than ever, Heavy and Light was a really great invitation to return to myself. The 15 hour drive was worth it. The couponing and sandwich eating was worth it. The LA traffic was worth it. It was worth everything to be there that night and I will hold it in my heart for the future.

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