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Je Suis Charlie…and many more

A man holds a placard which reads "I am Charlie" to pay tribute during a gathering at the Place de la Republique in Paris

I join in the voices condemning the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris. We must also realize that this is not an isolated incident.

In 2014, 61 journalists were killedMarcos de Barros Leopoldo Guerra was a blogger who called out local officials in Brazil for corruption. He was killed by unidentified assailants on a motorcycle. Rubylita Garcia had a reputation among the local press for being a hard-hitting journalist who exposed wrongdoing in the Cavite, Philippines police force. Two gunmen shot her multiple times as she entered her home. Steven Sotloff was an American-Israeli journalist who wrote for Time and Foreign Policy. In Syria, he was kidnapped by Islamic State and beheaded.

Freedom of the press is not respected in many countries. Even in countries where freedom of the press is law, reporters still face pressure from interest groups and even threats of physical violence from those who want to silence their criticism. It takes courageous journalists who are willing to risk their lives to uncover the truth and defend our right to know.

Let us honor these brave men and women and remember that we can only have freedom if we are willing to fight for it.

Why “Let It Go” Best Represents 2014

Doll of Elsa from FrozenI usually write my year-end parody this time of year, but we already have a song that best fits 2014: “Let It Go” from Frozen. It’s not just because “Let It Go” has been heard everywhere (especially if you have children). When you look at the lyrics and the context of the song, you’ll see why it inspires people. (And if you haven’t seen Frozen, spoilers ahead.)

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1. Angels We Have Heard on High

Angels We Have Heard on HighDuring December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

My number one song “Angels We Have Heard on High” combines all of the great features from the rest of the songs on my list. I sang it in every choir from elementary to high school and in the caroling group at AST. It has a great melody and unforgettable bass line. It includes Latin for practicing my language skills. It is easy to sing while being full of joy and passion. “Angels We Have Heard on High” best embodies the meaning and spirit of Christmas. This year, we especially need that spirit.

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2. Grown-Up Christmas List

During December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

This song is different from the others on my list. It is the only one I didn’t sing, and it has more of a socially conscious theme.

There are other socially conscious songs I could have added to the list: Stevie Wonder’s “Someday at Christmas,” John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” and Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” which is marking its 30th anniversary this year. However, “Grown-Up Christmas List” shows the personal suffering that doesn’t get press coverage. This suffering happens all around us, including our own communities. Read more »

3. Balulalow

Reseda High School Vocal Ensemble 1976-1977

During December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols was the hardest piece of music I ever had to sing. It had unfamiliar melodies, tense and discordant harmonies, and Middle English lyrics. (It did help me when I studied Chaucer, though.) When I had to tackle it in my first year in the Reseda High School Vocal Ensemble, I thought I was in over my head.

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