Singer/Songwriter Suzanne Vega & The Greenwich Village Songwriter's Exchange To Release New Tribute CD Vigil For the Victims of September 11
Following the tragedies of September 11, the nation and especially New Yorkers have pulled together in a support of solidarity to honor the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
This spring, pop/folk artist, Suzanne Vega and fellow members of the Greenwich Village Songwriter's Exchange will release a tribute CD titled Vigil, with songs written about those events. As executive producer, Suzanne has compiled several songs by the members, as well as contributed her own song, "It Hit Home."
"Vigil is a natural response to try and bring together the people who want to know how New York is doing after the attacks, and those who were writing about life in New York City, as we all attempted to return to normal." says Suzanne Vega.
Founded by folk pioneer Jack Hardy, the Greenwich Village Songwriter's Exchange has provided local New York songwriters a weekly workshop where its members share new songs and exchange ideas.
So far, the list of contributing songwriters are: Suzanne Vega, Tim Robinson, Jack Hardy, Wendy Beckerman, Bob Hillman, Jon Albrink, Ina May Wool, Dawn Landes, Brian Rose, Richard Julian, Jill Gerwitz, Amy Marie Keller, Andy Germank, Noam, Weinstein and Richard Meyer. Tim Robinson also contributes his artwork to Vigil.
All proceeds from Vigil will go to the Jeff Hardy Memorial Fund. Jeff Hardy was a local Greenwich Village musician who was working as a chef in the World Trade center-based law firm of Cantor Fitzgerald on September 11. Jeff was also the younger brother of Jack Hardy, Greenwich Village Songwriter's Exchange founder and Fast Folk Editor.
Vigil (Conscious Music) will be available to purchase through Amazon.com (Release date April 30.
As it has for seemingly every human calamity since Vietnam and Bangladesh, the music industry rallied itself in the aftermath of 9/11, though with an often remarkable self-restraint (one shudders to think how the solemn dignity of America: A Tribute to Heroes might have been tainted with but a little "We Are the World" egotism). But while the half-life of the biz's conscience generally parallels its attention span, this human-scaled project--conceived by Suzanne Vega and performed by fellow members of her Greenwich Village Songwriter's Exchange--distinguishes itself by being historically retrospective and personally introspective at the same instant. Though time has blunted the raw rage, the perspectives are still powerful: Christine Lavin details the descending gloom of her neighborhood firehouse as it discovered the true toll of the day; Bob Hillman offers a surreal, bravely whimsical take on watching the towers fall over and over again on TV, and, on "Communists," a tongue-in-cheek lament for the idealistic foes of old; Ina May Wool's "Boxcutters and Knives" coolly ticks off the weapons of terror and counter-terror with a delicate delivery that only makes the irony all the more insistent. Vega's "It Hit Home" is a public confession of naked emotion and mixed feelings that's as powerful as it is typically straightforward. It's anthology as prism for intellect and emotion, detachment, and even pretense--a much-needed reminder that this tragedy was, and is, national, yet remains intensely personal. Proceeds will go to the Jeff Hardy Memorial Fund (Hardy was a songwriter--and brother of Songwriter Exchange founder Jack Hardy--who worked as a chef in the WTC and was killed on 9/11). --Jerry McCulley
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If you are fond of some or all of these singers, and want to feel the impact of 9/11 on (mostly) locals, this is the great 5-star recording everyone else thinks it is and then some. You aren't human if you aren't deeply moved by listening, if you make it through the first song with dry eyes. I agree with someone below who wrote that this is a CD to listen to a few songs at a time. Otherwise, it is almost too painful, and one begins to feel like a voyeur looking in on others' tragedies. As a former New Yorker, the music does hit home. And the profits do apparently go to a good cause, though the information on the sleeve is rather vague about that (a memorial fund for Jack Hardy's brother that will in turn be donated to a charity that will benefit his family).
I'm not sorry to have made the purchase, and not just because the profits may go to charity. But this material is uneven, ranging from breathtaking to embarrassing. It starts and ends powerfully, though, and there is much in between well worth a close listen in a quiet room.
These songs, many recorded in a simple voice-guitar pairing, are powerful and moving. This is especially true when you realize that they all knew somebody that died (Jeff Hardy, in particular). When Jack Hardy sings and you understand that it is -his- brother that he is refering to, it makes it real. When Suzanne Vega sings and you know that she planned to visit -her- brother at the WTC that day, it sends shivers down your spine.
These artist follow the great tradition of remembering major events in song, something that we shameful have moved away from. A.P. Carter and the Rye Cove cyclone is a prime example. Songs about the Galvaston Hurricane, battle songs, the list goes on. We have left this tradition. This group of 'folk' (the word means people) singers, have steered us back to songs that touch the heart and remember real history. None of the sticky sweet 'oops I did it again' pop that is like soda pop (empty calories). These songs are 'meat and potatoes' songs, they have real value and will 'stick to your ribs'.