'Play For The Vote' - Musicians Across The Country Are Donating Tunes As People Wait At The Polls

Nov 3, 2020

This year’s first presidential debate created lots of buzz but it also birthed a new idea. A Boston musician solicited performers across the country to play the stress away as voters wait in line this Election Day. 

Mike Block playing for the vote.
Credit https://www.facebook.com/PlayForTheVote

Mike Block is the director of Play For The Vote, an organization designed to increase voter turnout. Block is also a composer, singer and cello player. He said the morning after the debate he found himself practicing his craft.  

“I realized that, you know, just playing music was helping me to stay calm, and not kind of get full of anxiety,” Block explained. “So, I thought well maybe I'll go and play at my local polling station.” 

After doing that he said he wanted every musician across the country to follow suit. About 600 artists throughout 48 states joined in and they are doing this for free.

“And we're also advising our musicians not even to ask for tips or to look for tips because it's really about serving at this moment. And musicians are, you know, often just looking for that connection to an audience.” 

Block acknowledged that this is just the start of the movement. Some musicians played during early voting in several cities, including Chicago and he said those performances were a success.

“And so, the seed that has been planted makes it feel like, you know, this could be something we can mobilize again,” he said. “And we've actually met some really great partners.”    

Block said the stress involved in the voting process this year is heightened because of the current health and safety concerns.   

The locations aren’t publicized because the organization didn’t want to bombard a particular place but there are several locations across Illinois. Block said the most important thing is that people vote.  

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.