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Leading for Change

Making changes in your own life can be exciting, unnerving, and surprising in how those changes can affect others. Making any change first requires us to make a decision, and that can be the most difficult step in the whole process. During Week 7 of this year’s SYNC program of free audiobooks, we hear about two different changes: one with effects on a personal and a community level and the other with implications on species survival as well as big business.

Allen Cheney’s fictionalized memoir of his grandfather’s experiences, written with contributions from with Julie Cantrell and performed here by the author, comes to SYNC courtesy of Thomas Nelson. CRESCENDO: The Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town gives listeners the opportunity to get acquainted with Fred Allen as he escapes his impoverished childhood in Georgia to seek more welcoming venues for his musical prowess. Along the way, of course, Fred has to both recognize opportunities for change and make decisions that help to establish those changes. Sometimes, however, the neglect he suffered growing up gets in the way.

From left: Allen Cheney, Seamus Dever (photo by Stephanie Gerard), and Sarah Drew


Paired with this narrative is the stage drama EXTINCTION, by Hannie Rayson and performed by a full cast including Seamus Dever, Sarah Drew, Darren Richardson, and Joanne Whalley, from L.A. Theatre Works. What would you do if your life’s work has been dedicated to bringing a small mammal back from the status of endangered, but the only way to examine its capacity to survive was to get funding from the very business that seeks to destroy its habitat? Let the actors take you into the decision-making process faced by a zoologist who is dealing with the consequences of climate change on her work. This play comes from the publisher’s Relativity Series, which is underwritten by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to bridge science and the arts in the modern world.

In Week 8 of SYNC, which begins June 17, we explore other types of bridges between fields of endeavor and the role social media can play in building and threatening those connections. Both of Week 8’s audiobooks come to listeners courtesy of Listening Library. POEMSIA, a novel by Lang Leav and performed by Saskia Maarleveld, is paired with author-read nonfiction, Kimberly Drew’s THIS IS WHAT I KNOW ABOUT ART.

From left: Kimberly Drew (photo by Travis Matthews) and Lang Leav


Maarleveld, who is from New Zealand, is just the right narrator for Leav’s novel, which is credibly detailed with social media references and also studded with accents for English speakers from both Australia and North America. If, like this audiobook’s heroine, you are willing to get lost in a book, POEMSIA may inspire you to keep going as a writer after you finish listening.

Kimberly Drew has experience in a variety of careers within her chosen field. She can now add narrator to her work as author, art historian, activist, and social media manager at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both art and activism require passion; Drew helps listeners connect with how each of these can embolden and strengthen the other in THIS IS WHAT I KNOW ABOUT ART. For more from the author, follow her on her blog, @blackcontemporaryart, and find inspiration to make your values be seen and heard.

Recognizing the need for change, deciding how you can create change, and using your skills to act effectively takes work. Across Weeks 7 and 8 of SYNC, you have the opportunity to meet some excellent role models in that effort.

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