By MIKE CHAIKEN
When a reporter interviews an artist—musical, visual, theatrical, literature—invariably the question will arise… What inspired you?
When the artist replies, just as invariably, he/she has to reach back in time several months, even years, to remember the genesis of a particular work.
But when it comes to singer-songwriter—and Bristol native—Jennifer Hill, the origins of her latest endeavor literally unfolded in updates on Facebook.
The first of the updates came in the moments after the news broke about the shooting death of 20 children and six adults at the hands of a gunman who stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Hill posted how she had to pour her feelings out in a song. And that song grew into an idea to turn it into benefit from the musicians of Connecticut to the children of Newtown.
When she heard the news about the events unfolding in that small town elementary school, Hill said, “As a parent, I sat and cried. I cannot imagine the grief the parents and children are going through. To lose so many people at once is just overwhelming.”
“I wrote this song because it was really upsetting what happened in Sandy Hook,” said Hill in an interview via Facebook. “I’m a mom, a teacher, and a survivor of gun violence. I feel for everyone there and I know they have a long road of recovery ahead.”
“It was easy to write…,” said Hill of the songwriting process. But the emotions, she said, were “hard to put into four minutes.”
“The song is a message of hope and healing together,” said Hill.
To bring the song to life, Hill—who is the organizer of the annual SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) CT arts festival, reached out to the rock community of Connecticut. She posted requests for musicians to perform on the track and she put out a call for young children to sing on the track… to give it added poignancy.
Hill said, “The response of people willing to help has been amazing. Not only does everyone want to lend a hand singing and playing we are also fortunate to have recording time and rehearsal spaces donated.”
“I saw it start to snowball and I thought ‘Ok, now I said it. I asked for help and it came…Now I’ve got to do it.”
“It has many well-known musicians working on it,” said Hill of the ensemble playing the music tracks. “I know it has brought is together and I hope it does the same for everyone touched by this tragedy.”
“They (the other musicians) wanted to do something, anything to ease the pain of what happened,” said Hill. “Just coming together to do this song as a community has made us feel like we are doing something.”
As for how the song will help Newtown, Hill said, “The proceeds from downloads will go to the fund for a new school, but the song’s most important message is that we are sending our love.” In regards to when people will hear and be able to buy the finished product, Hill said, “I am hoping the song will be done by end of this month. It will be available for download (after that).”
“Beyond the recording (and download),” said Hill, “people can help… by making a donation to our fundraising efforts.”
Hill said if you want to know more information about donations and the song, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.
By MIKE CHAIKEN