The Musical Capturing the Black Boomer Experience

A '60 Minutes' segment on Alive: 55+ and Kickin' is a moving must-see

If you missed 60 Minutes on Sunday, make a little time now to watch the fantastic segment by Lesley Stahl on a new musical show in Harlem. Called Alive: 55+ and Kickin’, it features black midlife amateur singers sharing their life stories and songs.

(MORE: The 15 Songs That Defined The Boomer Generation)

The show’s creator, Vy Higginsen, tells Stahl she felt their stories and the depth of emotion they brought to their performances could only come from those with life experience, including struggle. Black boomers came of age during urban decay and the civil rights movement, and the poignant stories on stage are of that generation. 

Some stories represented here are about second chances: One man spent 40 years in prison, where he sang for inmates (“I was their radio”). Another, who was illiterate, became an alcoholic and only stopped drinking when he feared it was ruining his voice.

Others capture raw emotion: One woman tells of her son’s death from cancer when he was just 34; another makes the men in the audience weep when she sings as a mother wanting the best for her children.

Higginsen wanted to hear from those over age 55. The era in which they grew up “was one of the most creative musical time periods,” she says. “There were sounds that were created out of the emotion.”

Total viewing time for both parts we link to below is about 26 minutes. Warning: if you watch them at work, you may end up misty-eyed. I know I did.



Sue Campbell
By Sue Campbell
Sue Campbell was an Editorial and Content Director for Next Avenue. Follow her on Twitter @SuePCampbell.@SuePCampbell

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