Video: Karaoke Night On Skid Row
At one Skid Row church, "Karaoke Night" offers more than just the typical showboating and off-key singing that you might expect from an open microphone in Los Angeles. Though, there's plenty of that, too.
For three hours every Wednesday night, dozens of people from the area gather at the Central City Community Church of the Nazarene to belt out their favorite songs, dance together, and find temporary refuge from the typically less welcoming streets outside. For nearly 18 years, Pastor Anthony Stallsworth has hosted the night for local stars from nearby hotels, shelters and sidewalks, along with volunteers, using a karaoke machine bought by former Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello.
"We're a place where the homeless can come, they can sing a song, they can feel like somebody after being rejected everywhere else, get a free cup of coffee — and people applaud for them," Stallsworth told the L.A. Times.
The song selections range from classic rock to country to oldies with the occasional rap thrown in (though the pastor prescreens them for obscenities). And while the skill level on the microphone may range as well, there seems to be no shortage of enthusiasm.
Each karaoke night, Pastor Stallsworth—once homeless himself—also leads an optional prayer session in a separate room from the performances.
"It's a little bit of a return to normalcy in an area that's just absolute chaos," Andy Bates, the head of Skid Row's Union Rescue Mission, tells the Associated Press, "People kind of lose themselves in that moment and get to display their talents," he says.