Sensory-friendly sing-along coming to Chicago

Grammy Award-winning children’s musician Dan Zanes is bringing his annual New York City holiday tradition to Chicago this year in the hopes of helping local families create a new tradition.

If you go

Dan Zanes & Friends Holiday Sing-A-Long

City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., Chicago

11 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 11

Tickets , at door


Zanes describes it as an “old-fashioned sing-along for modern times.” He says it takes him back to some of his favorite childhood memories and reflects a mash-up of traditions from Christmas, Hanukkah and Haiti.

“The music is going to be amazing,” says Zanes, who will be joined at the City Winery show by Claudia Eliaza and Pauline Jean, two Haitian American jazz singers.

This is an especially great show for families with children with sensory issues. Zanes says he introduced his sensory-friendly concept to all of his shows about a year ago. In addition to making the shows more accommodating and welcoming for all behaviors, the song book families receive tells them what to expect with every song. Plus, a special chill-out space is provided that keeps kids connected but removed enough so that the concert doesn’t feel overstimulating.

“All the different ways we have of reacting to music is OK,” Zanes says. “To me, that’s a beautiful thing, and it’s important that we are all together.”

Zanes, who has been making music since he was 8, says what he’s doing with his shows should be the future of all family programming.

“From the stage, it’s very moving to know that because we took a little bit of time, we are able to make a different kind of environment. Anything we can do to try and reach out to each other is meaningful. We all benefit from that,” he says.

“I want to be in a different type of world. I want to be part of a world that always works for inclusion.”

Expect Zanes to be joined by a few friends from Chicago. His team has put out a call for family bands to join him.

His favorite song of the night will be “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow,” an African-American-style song with a great energy and a great message. It is on his Christmas CD, Christmas in Concord.

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