Anyone lucky enough to be taking in the sun on Pearl Street Saturday would have encountered quite the sight -- over a hundred 100 smiling faces, gathered on the bricks and belting out the lyrics to dozens of pop songs.

This unusual gathering wasn't spontaneous or even last minute, though. It was the celebration of the annual World Singing Day, an event that sees people all over the world coming together to sing along to well known songs including the Beatles' "Hey Jude," Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," and a reworked version of "Ode to Joy."

Gary, a participant in the festivities and a four-year veteran of the sing-along who went on with his day before providing his last name, said that he comes because "It's a fun thing to do. It's a Boulder thing to do."

And the event's festive and carefree vibes aren't the only reason it's a "Boulder thing to do."

The event got its start here in 2012.

The brainchild of Boulder resident and musician Scott Johnson, he said that World Singing Day was a long time in the making.

"I wish I could say it was like some epiphany or something, but I've always, since I was a teenager, been a songwriter, and always kind of used music to promote some kind of a positive message," he said.

Johnson added that over the years he kept making music, and that in 2003 he founded the Positive Music Association, an organization dedicated to the promotion of lyric-based music with "life-affirming, universal, inclusive messages."


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With members around the world, Johnson thought that it might be a good idea to have a Positive Music Association day of singing, but thought "No, let's include the whole world, and let's have it so it's not just for musicians or singers, it's for everybody.

"If you can hum, if you have a vocal chord, you're welcome," he said.

Johnson recalled that the event had humble beginnings.

"I think the first year, 2012, I probably called some of my musician friends around the country or the world and said, 'Hey, sing in your living room or something,'" he said. "Maybe we had a hundred people."

Since then, though, World Singing Day has grown quite a bit. This year, he said a thousand booklets of lyrics were printed, and hundreds of people cycled through over the course of the event — and that was just on Pearl Street.

The celebration is now worldwide, with the World Singing Day website boasting roughly 10,000 participants on seven continents and in 26 countries. It's not hard to see why it has spread so widely, as people seem to gravitate towards its positive message.

Arianna Snow, an organizer with the event, said that she likes "the fact that it is addressing the idea that music is a universal language that we can all speak together and find a little unity in the process."

"It's really about building community, is what it is, and creating a positive human experience that we all can really relate to and enjoy, and we do it through singing," Johnson said.

To join the singalong next year, mark the third Saturday of October 2019. For more information, visit worldsingingday.org.