Sally Kohn and Celebrities Raise Their Voices to Celebrate "The Opposite Of Hate"
Sally Kohn, progressive CNN political commentator and founder of the Movement Vision Lab, has built a career on her talent for finding common ground in times of conflict. As a former Fox News contributor, she’s frequently found herself debating opponents with whom she passionately disagrees, and yet has managed to form unexpected friendships - moving past anger to find new levels of understanding and respect. As of Friday night, Kohn can also add the title of glamorous party host to her long list of achievements.
Celebrities and activists alike joined Kohn at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City for the first of two star-studded karaoke parties to celebrate her new book, The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide To Repairing Our Humanity. Co-hosted by InStyle, Lifetime and Tinder with the support of Katy Perry and Shonda Rhimes, the evening was part of the Guggenheim’s two-day public program, “Culture and Its Discontents,” an exploration of the growing ideological divides in the United States and beyond. And in addition to being one of the best karaoke parties the Upper East Side has seen, the event was also a fundraiser for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
The festivities began with a rousing performance by the Resistance Revival Chorus, whose rendition of “Freedom” and other songs of protest set the tone for a spirited celebration. “The founding concept of the chorus is that joy is a form of resistance,” said Charlotte Holst-Douglas, one of the evening's performers. “I used to live in Israel, but I had such a hard time when they built the Israeli West Bank barrier. It’s so important that people are talking about these issues because there’s a lot of silence and oppression in the world today.”
Before the karaoke began, Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference took the stage. “We need to remind ourselves that we have a call to action right now,” she said. “I was in Memphis earlier this week to commemorate MLK’s assassination, and in his words, ‘Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.’ And that is what Sally’s book is about. When we have the choice between fear and love, we have to choose love every single time.” Gupta passed the mic to Kohn, who impressed the audience with a stunning cover of Cher’s hit, “If I Could Turn Back Time.”
Excited and inspired, the guests lined up en masse to sing. Under the pink and purple lights inside the iconic rotunda, the energy was overwhelmingly positive. When the music suddenly cut out during one performance of “Killing Me Softly,” the entire crowd joined in song. Sophia Bush took to the dance floor in a splashy suit by Maggie Marilyn as celebs like Alysia Reiner and Stacy London swayed to the music. Katie Couric was front-row for the performances.
“I really admire Sally and what she stands for,” said Couric. “I admire the fact that she’s trying to bring people together. Obviously she has this incredible energy and spirit, and she can really sing!” Like Kohn, Couric also tackles heavy cultural issues with her new documentary series, “America Inside Out,” which premieres on the National Geographic Channel next week.
“I feel like hate is one of the biggest problems we have right now,” said Faye Penn, VP of Editorial at Lifetime (and formerly of InStyle). “Look at the things people say to each other on social media - they just tear into strangers. We need to relearn how to connect and talk to each other in an open, non-judgmental way. I’m excited to see how this book starts that conversation.”
At a time when American political discourse has given way to an epidemic of hatred, it’s fair to say we have never needed a book like The Opposite of Hate more. “We all can be a part of transforming our country,” Kohn emphasized, before breaking into song. “We all are part of the problem of hate, so we all need to be part of the solution.” Be sure to pick up your copy on April 10th.
Get those tunes ready, Los Angeles. Sally Kohn’s next karaoke party takes place on Saturday, April 27th at GIPHY Studios.