In the wake of the Newtown tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary comes healing and through healing comes understanding. When it comes to music, there is no better way to work through the healing process than to create. Manda Mosher and Brandon Schott did just that. The two musicians worked together to create a two volume digital music compilation titled Songs for Sandy Hook.
What was purely a thought and executed by word of mouth, became a reality with thirty-nine artists from around the world. Songs for Sandy Hook not only brings original music from artists such as Mosher, Schott, A.J. Croce, and Liv Mueller, but it also brings dollars to Danbury Hospital in Connecticut.
I had the opportunity to chat with both the musicians via phone and we discussed the digital music compilation, how it came to fruition and how people can donate.
J: In the press release it gave us a glimpse as into how Song for Sandy Hook came together. Can you elaborate a little more on that?
M: It happened very, very quickly.It started with a thought I had with one of my songs called "Everything You Need". I was going to re-record it with Brandon as producer. We wanted to take a new spin on the song. It was the title track on my first album from 2009. We gave it a bit of a wintery treatment that sounded a bit holiday-ish . My original thought was I wanted to offer this song up for sale with the proceeds going to a charity for the holidays. That idea happened maybe a month and a half or so before the incident at Sandy Hook.
B: Yes, we recorded the song "Everything You Need". It was the first time we had worked together and it was a song of hers that she wanted to update. We knew we wanted it to stand for something larger than itself.
M: I hadn't really chosen a charity yet and was looking at some, but hadn't committed to one in my mind. When the Sandy Hook tragedy happened, it was such a devastating thing. I felt very helpless. I started seeing the photographs of the victims and families. It really shook me up. I was looking at these sweet precious faces of these young, innocent children. And, it made no sense to me at all why this happened.
B: This is were it gets into sensitive areas...I'm a father of three and when Sandy Hook happened it took me a couple of days to even process what had happened there.
M: And, then I discovered one of them was from our own musician community. He's not someone I have ever met, but I had heard of him; Jimmy Greene. When I saw his little girl, when I saw her picture, I said this is real and it's not just something that happened far away. This is something that could happen to your best friend or you or me.
I immediately wanted to do something to help. I felt really helpless seeing everything go down. I immediately said something to Brandon about selling the song to raise money for the families of Sandy Hook. Brandon said, "Absolutely. I have a song I want to contribute as well. Can we make that the B side. Have two songs we can sell to give the money to them?"
It was within another minute or two I wrote back to him and suggested Songs for Sandy Hook? And, he said, "Yes, let's do it". From that point it almost happened naturally.
B: I think both Manda and I as artists wanted to use our strengths to put something positive back out into the world as a result of it. It feels like it is just a drop of love in an ocean of loss. It was a matter of putting that song out to represent our reactions. Once we started talking about how we could make this bigger and get more people involved, ultimately, we wanted to raise more money toward a healing presence or energy with our music and it turned into the compilation. We had volume one within about 48 hours.
J: There are 39 musicians from around the world on the two volume digital music compilation. How did everyone get involved?
M: We put a call out Facebook and the submissions just came pouring in. We spent the next four or five days working night and day on the project. We were looking for songs that had the right kind of message and songs that we really loved listening to; songs we wanted to keep hearing it over and over again. We made all our decisions pretty quickly. We put it up on Bandcamp, because they take a smaller percentage of sales compared to other digital music services. The whole thing caught on like wildfire.The majority of the artists are friends, people I have toured with, shared the stage with or have established friendships with. Some of the artists are friends and colleagues of Brandon.
B: There's 40 tracks total across the two compilations. The number of entries we received was staggering. We really had an abundance with people coming forward and contributing. We tried to focus the message of what the collections were putting across and had it be in the spirit of healing. A lot of it was word of mouth and social media outreach.
M: The one artist that really stands out is Saskia Eng. Her and her father approached us. Somehow they found out what we were doing and they are from Scotland. That one came completely from out of the blue. And, we just loved her song. She's ten and just blew us away with her talent. She wrote us a personal message that was very endearing and that the song was for us. Saskia spoke about how much Scotland cares about the U.S. and that they care for us in this time of tragedy from far away.
J: You have your first benefit concert planned on March 2, 2013. Tell us a little bit about it and how people can attend or donate.
M: We're just about to announce the line up. We have 17 of the artists from the compilation are confirmed to perform. We plan on having everyone perform their song they contributed to Songs for Sandy Hook and a few of them will play additional songs. We're going to shape the whole evening like a show. It's going to go from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
It wil be held at the Talking Stick in Venice, CA. It's out by the beach and the artist's community. The Talking Stick said they would allow us to have the venue for the evening with 100% of the proceeds going to our cause. We're going to do cash donations at the door and donations by check. People can make checks directly out to Danbury Hospital with the notation of Songs for Sandy Hook.
Every check they receive with the Songs for Sandy Hook notation will go towards their long-term crisis intervention program, which is their therapy program where people get assigned a therapist and psychologist to talk to. That is specifically what we wanted to support with this...the therapy and counseling; having those resources available. Sometimes talking with someone who is a professional helps.
J: Where can people purchases the Songs for Sandy Hook? I know it is on Bandcamp, but how can people donate?
M: People can send donations directly to Danbury hospital with the notation Songs for Sandy Hook. Now, to buy the music, you can go to songsforsandy hook.bandcamp.com. Everything is fully digital right now. We did not make physical CDs, because we wanted all the proceeds to go to Danbury Hospital.
B: We did discuss making physical CDs, but right now everything is digital. On Bandcamp, you can pay $1.00 per song download, but you can also make additional donations when you purchase. All money raised on Bandcamp purchases goes directly to Danbury Hospital.
It's <this music compilation> putting an energy of healing out there for everyone.
Within the first two weeks, Songs for Sandy Hook received over two thousand dollars in donations. For those desiring to donate to the cause they can either purchase the music compilation on Bandcamp or send checks directly to Danbury Hospital:
Attn: Crisis Intervention Program
24 Hospital Avenue
Danbury CT 06810
Notate in the memo line: Songs for Sandy Hook (this is important as the donation will go directly to the crisis intervention program)
Heroes come in many forms. Manda Mosher and Brandon Schott as well as the other thirty-nine artists on the Songs for Sandy Hook compilation are heroes working towards the goal of healing our nation through music.
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