When Denise LaBrecque and friend Evan Betts first heard of the events of 12/14, the two friends were devastated that such a thing could happen so close to home. They grew up in Shelton, and live near Newtown.
When they later heard that a friend and former classmate was among those to lose a child in the tragedy, their hearts broke. They spent several sleepless nights with thoughts of “What can we do?” filling those nights. Ms LaBrecque and Mr Betts struggled, they said, over the fact that they wanted to do something, “because we were moved so deeply and did not have the resources to contribute, in a meaningful way, any substantial funds.”
Voices For Heroes, Inc. is the result of those long nights. The friends registered with the state of Connecticut and became a small non-profit organization; a complete 501(c)(3) is pending, Ms LaBreque said on March 12.
Ms LaBrecque is the founder of Voices for Heroes, and Mr Betts is her partner in the creation and development of the project, which is a two-fold undertaking: a pair of compilation CDs. The first, Connecticut Voices For Heroes, will raise funds for HealingNewtown Arts Space. Located at 5 Queen Street, HealingNewtown is managed by Newtown Cultural Arts Commission and supported by the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut and the Connecticut Office of the Arts. It is a volunteer organization that relies on funding from the community and sponsors.
The second CD, Voices From Around the World: The Music, will provide funding the Sandy Hook Elementary School Music Department.
“In our call to receive original music from singer-songwriters who have written for/about or inspirational/encouraging words for Newtown, or for the world to heal, we started to receive submissions from as far away as the UK, Hawaii, and all over the United States,” said Ms LaBreque. “Then we started scouting the Internet for songs that would encourage peace, love and kindness.
“The overwhelming response grew our project from one CD to now having our second CD,” she continued.
“The second will be a double album,” she emphasized, “filled with great music from these generous artists, willing to share their music with the world as a royalty free donation. We have over 30 artists joining us in our efforts to help.”
Over 35 artists signed up for Connecticut Voices For Heroes including Dorian Castle, Boplicity, Mark Rosenberg, Rey Michaud, Jose Archuleta, John Ciambriello, Tory Gozzi & Jaime, Garamella, Levy & Spear, Daniel Heath-Ringrose, Rook, Albert Campbell, Martin Earley, IZZ, Jeff Hanke, and Randy McCoy & Family. The musicians and singer-songwriters featured in the project live in or are from Connecticut. Their songs span multiple genres.
The first CD will be premiered during a special CD Release Party scheduled for Saturday, March 23, from 4 to 9 pm. The Crowne Plaza, at 18 Old Ridgebury Road in Danbury, has donated the venue for the event.
Most of the artists on the Connecticut CD is scheduled to perform at the release party. A Meet & Greet/autograph session will open the event from 4 to 5:30 pm.
Special guests The Valley Chordsmen will also be performing.
(Parents are cautioned that they may want to listen to some of the album’s tracks if they are considering bringing their children to the event. Visit VoicesForHeroes.com and click on Our Artist to hear samples. “You know your children and this will be your decision. Some of these songs are a bit sad and may be tough on young children. Each artist will be performing another song that is more upbeat in between the CD music,” Ms LaBreque and Mr Betts posted on their Facebook event page.)
The celebration will also include hors d’oeuvres, light snacks and a cash bar. Raffles will offer signed CDs, T-shirts, movie tickets and other items. T-shirts and CDs will also be available for purchase.
In addition, Newtown-based A Bead of Roses will be there with memorial jewelry that can be purchased.
On March 23 — the day of the CD release party — the CD will be available both in physical form and in download from all major online music sites including Amazon and iTunes. Cost of the CD is $14.95; those at the release event will be able to purchase the CD for $10.95, however.
There is no admission fee for the CD release event, but donations will be welcomed and all will be forwarded to HealingNewtown.
“It’s huge, way bigger than I thought,” Ms LaBrecque told The Newtown Bee on March 5 of the project, and its kick-off event. “The generosity of the artists, everyone really, has been unbelievable.”
She is hoping to do another concert in the summer, she said, “a peace concert. I want a really nice, happy feeling day.”
As of March 12, Ms LaBreque was still looking for volunteers who would like to help during the CD release party.
Anyone who would like to help with set-up, clean-up, party supplies, food, etc, can contact her at 203-574-3322 or admin@VoicesForHeroes.com.