Larry Moore: The Dreidel Song

Publisher | choral music,composers,hanukkah,men's,mixed,secular,winter season | Friday, June 10th, 2016

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In reviewing the selection of Hanukkah-themed music in our catalog, we realized that the majority of pieces predominantly feature contemplative and/or anthemic qualities in tone and mood. And that’s all good and appropriate! But, we did recognize a need to boost our offerings of Hanukkah music that is joyous, upbeat and celebratory. So, we put the challenge to YRM writer Larry Moore, an accomplished Broadway music arranger and orchestrator, and he graciously accepted!

The result is his unique setting of The Dreidel Song (music by S. E. Goldfarb and Mikhl Gelbart, English lyrics by Samuel S. Grossman). It is an exuberant and playful arrangement, bringing to vivid musical life the spinning of the dreidel, and we’re so excited to offer it to our customers!

Larry shared the following thoughts regarding his approach to this piece:

When Yelton Rhodes asked me to write a lively Hanukkah arrangement, I remembered that the band in which my friend Chris Coluzzi played drums had performed and participated in several Hanukkah dreidel spinning competitions. Of the several dreidel songs I found, I thought this one was my best option to adapt. The melody had a limited range, which was perfect for moving into different keys, but I needed a framework and a secondary theme.

As I wandered about singing the Dreidel Song to myself and wondering what to do with it, I found that I kept slipping into the theme from Le Bal, the last movement of Georges Bizet’s wonderful Jeux d’infants. I am very happy that one of my favorite composers (whose wife Geneviève Halévy was Jewish, incidentally) gave me exactly what I needed.

A Bizet-inspired arrangement of The Dreidel Song? Sounds wonderfully intriguing, doesn’t it?!

Available for men’s chorus or mixed chorus and piano. To peruse a partial score PDF, click on either TTBB or SATB.

Joshua Fishbein: No union is more profound

Publisher | a cappella,choral music,composers,family,gay & lesbian,love,men's,women's,YRM | Saturday, October 17th, 2015

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Do you remember when you first heard about the Supreme Court’s landmark, history-making ruling this past June in the case Obergefell v. Hodges which granted same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide?

New YRM writer Joshua Fishbein had just moved back to the Washington, D.C. area from Nevada. He was driving in his car, listening to NPR, and was ecstatic when he heard the news! In particular Joshua was struck by Justice Anthony Kennedy‘s majority opinion, the penultimate paragraph of which was shared in the NPR report.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” ~Justice Anthony Kennedy

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Joshua found this paragraph to be “poetically written, moving and naturally well-suited to music. Kennedy knew he was making history when he wrote those lines.” He felt so inspired by these words that he did set them to music, and YRM is fortunate and proud to be able to present this new publication to our customers!

No union is more profound for solo and TBB or SSA a cappella (click on each voicing to view a partial score PDF).

After the chorus sings the opening two lines (which express an universal message about marriage), the soloist enters in recitative style, representing the voice of Justice Kennedy, while the rest of the ensemble acts more as a backup choir. Joshua explains,

“In this way the setting was influenced by my background in Jewish liturgical music, where the choral parts, subservient to the melody sung by the cantor, often exist for harmonic support and to echo the cantor.”

This piece is written in a contrapuntal style with certain words and phrases repeated in order to emphasize them. He chose to leave out the final short paragraph “The judgment… is reversed. It is so ordered.” And rather than end the piece with “The Constitution grants them that right,” the first line is repeated as a musical bookend.

Joshua hopes that the audience who hears this work will be impacted by the monumental change embodied by Justice Kennedy’s words.

“I want them to hear the universal love represented by marriage, as well as the gravitas of these cases, in which both men and women were deprived of the fulfillment of marriage and equal dignity in the eyes of the law. At the same time, I also want the audience to hear optimism in the circumstances surrounding these words.”

Donald Skirvin: Winter Reverie

Publisher | choral music,composers,winter season,women's | Friday, August 17th, 2012


We’re in the midst of an August heatwave here in Los Angeles, and that makes it even more of pleasure to feature Donald Skirvin‘s contemplative and lovely Winter Reverie for this blog update.

When Donald was commissioned to write a piece for the Seattle Women’s Chorus, he knew he wanted to set the poetry of Sara Teasdale to music. He’s set many Teasdale poems because he finds her sensitive, multilayered voice to be inspirational. Skirvin describes the piece as follows:

Winter Reverie is a setting of two evocative Teasdale poems that re-create a winter scene of walking on a snowy night, enjoying a good meal in a restaurant, watching twilight descend under “icebowed trees,” and returning thanks for “… the mother who bore me. (Click on the link to download a PDF containing the first few pages and the last few pages of the score.)

In the restaurant

The darkened street was muffled with the snow,
The falling flakes had made your shoulders white,
And when we found a shelter from the night
Its glamour fell upon us like a blow.
The clash of dishes and the viol and bow
Mingled beneath the fever of the light.
The heat was full of savors, and the bright
Laughter of women lured the wine to flow.
A little child ate nothing while she sat
Watching a woman at a table there
Lean to a kiss beneath a drooping hat.
The hour went by, we rose and turned to go,
The somber street received us from the glare,
And once more on your shoulders fell the snow.

Winter Dusk

I watch the great clear twilight
Veiling the icebowed trees;
Their branches tinkle faintly
With crystal melodies.

The larches bend their silver
Over the hush of snow;
One star is lighted in the west,
Two in the zenith glow.

For a moment I have forgotten
Wars and women who mourn
I think of the mother who bore me
And thank her that I was born.

Listen to a performance of the piece by the Seattle Women’s Chorus on YouTube by clicking here.

Mark Carlson: Common Link

Publisher | choral music,composers,humanity,men's,mixed | Monday, November 7th, 2011

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If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can [help] make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic, common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children’s future, and we are all mortal.

These words were spoken by President John. F. Kennedy as part of his commencement address at American University in 1963. And they were the inspiration for a moving choral anthem, Common Link, composed by Mark Carlson.

Mark gave us a little insight about setting this powerful text:

At first, it was an enormous challenge to set words that are not intentionally poetic—though undeniably beautiful and profound. But as the compositional process unfolded, I felt immensely honored to be setting these words. In fact, it was kind of overwhelming to set words of such depth, some 40 years after they were spoken, and I remain humbled by the experience.

And what really got me—and still gets me nine years after writing this music—is the line, “and we are all mortal.” In part, it was the realization that Kennedy was saying, “Why are we fighting each other? We’re all going to die, anyway!” But even more, it was the realization that mortality, much as we want to fight it, is a gift. No matter how young or how old we die, we all have a finite amount of time on this small planet. Why not use every moment of that finite time to do whatever we can to make this small planet a more beautiful, a more accepting place.

Common Link was commissioned by the Maine Gay Men’s Chorus (directed by Miguel Felipe) as part of their 10th anniversary celebration. It was originally composed for TTBB, violin and piano, but has recently also been voiced for SATB, violin and piano as well. (Click on the links to see a partial PDF score for each voicing.)

This recording is the premiere performance by the Maine Gay Men’s Chorus, conducted by Miguel Felipe, in June, 2002.

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/carlson.mark/common.link.mp3]

Featured Artist: Kenneth Fuchs, part two

Publisher | choral music,composers,featured artist | Friday, November 12th, 2010

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(Today’s entry is the continuation of YRM’s Dale Trumbore’s recent interview with composer Kenneth Fuchs.)

Yelton Rhodes Music: Do you have any suggestions or advice for choirs approaching your work for the first time?

Kenneth Fuchs: I believe that my music is in service to the words at all times. Understanding the text first is of paramount importance.

YRM: How do you go about finding texts to set? Is there a particular poet or poets whose work you enjoy setting?

KF: I love the prose and poetry of American writers. I read a lot and I am always on the lookout for texts that interest me. I feel especially close to the New England poets, but I am also interested in the works of American dramatists and novelists; I feel fortunate to have set the words of writers as diverse as Don DeLillo, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, John Updike, and Lanford Wilson. Composers must never set a text that is not in the public domain without the permission of the author first!

YRM: Do you have any advice for other composers interested in having their works published by YRM?

KF: Choose your words carefully and set them well. Attention to prosody and proper word setting is essential. Few things show off a composer’s inexperience faster than words that do not sit properly on the music! Also, recordings of good performances are extremely helpful in placing a work with a publisher.

YRM: What do you enjoy about being published by and working with YRM?

KF: I admire Roger Bourland’s bold vision for YRM. He publishes a wide variety of works that often express strong points of view about social and political concerns. I consider it a privilege to have my choral works published by YRM!

Yelton Rhodes Music considers it a privilege to publish so many of Kenneth Fuch‘s beautifully-written choral pieces! 🙂

Please visit his webpage for more information about his work: www.kennethfuchs.com.

Featured Artist: Kenneth Fuchs, part one

Publisher | choral music,composers,featured artist | Friday, November 5th, 2010

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YRM’s Dale Trumbore interviewed Kenneth Fuchs for this featured artist segment on our blog (the first one we’ve done, and there will be more to follow!).

Fuchs has written for orchestra, band, chorus, jazz ensemble, and various chamber ensembles. Naxos has released two recordings of his music performed by the London Symphony Orchestra with conductor JoAnn Falletta and producer Michael Fine (An American Place/Eventide/Out of the Dark and Canticle to the Sun/United Artists). In October 2001, Albany Records released Kenneth Fuchs: String Quartets 2, 3, 4 (Troy 480), performed by the American String Quartet. Mr. Fuchs currently serves as professor of music composition at the University of Connecticut.

Yelton Rhodes Music publishes several of his works including In the Clearing, six Robert Frost poem settings (Devotion, Fireflies in the Garden, Hannibal, Nothing Gold Can Stay, October and Stars), and Immigrants Still, a setting of the fifth canto from On Freedom’s Ground by Richard Wilbur, written as a memorial to those who died on September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center in New York City.

(Please click on the links to view the items in our catalog and to listen to recordings of each work.)
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Yelton Rhodes Music: What is your general composition process like?

Kenneth Fuchs: When I compose for voice, I always start with the text. I know immediately if I should set a poem or prose piece to music, because I hear the music as I read the words. Over the course of my career as a composer, I have set everything from tiny four-line poems to hour-long one-act plays. Once I have completely absorbed a text, I make musical sketches in relation to the words as I perceive them. Eventually I have enough sketches to start composing the piece, usually from the beginning of the text.

YRM: What is your musical background? How does that come into play in your own writing?

KF: I started singing in church choirs and school choruses when I was ten years old. The experience of singing in an ensemble made a lasting impression on me because I was hearing and singing the music from the inside out. For me, composition has always been a vocal utterance. I received my undergraduate degree in composition from the University of Miami, where I studied for four years with the noted band composer Alfred Reed. I received graduate degrees from the Juilliard School, where for nine years my principal teachers were David Diamond and Vincent Persichetti. The composition faculty also included Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, and Roger Sessions. Peter Mennin was the president of the School. Quite a heady atmosphere for any composer!

YRM: What is your favorite piece published with Yelton Rhodes Music? What makes this your favorite piece?

KF: I am especially proud of Immigrants Still. It is based on the fifth canto of Richard Wilbur’s epic bicentennial poem “On Freedom’s Ground.” I first became acquainted with the poem when I heard the New York Philharmonic perform William Schuman’s cantata based upon this text in the mid-1980s. The poem’s powerful observations about the birth and progress of our nation over 200 years moved me very deeply and have stayed with me ever since. I had been seeking to compose an appropriate musical response to the events that befell our nation on September 11, 2001. When I received a commission from the Oklahoma Choral Director’s Association to compose a work for the 2005 All-OMEA Honors Chorus, Richard Wilbur’s prophetic words about the majesty of New York harbor and the immigrant experience seemed exactly right. The poem is very moving, and I hope many choruses will take up the piece for the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

Karlan Judd: This Time Next Year

Publisher | choral music,composers,new year,uu,winter season | Friday, October 15th, 2010

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Yup… 2011. It will be here before you know it! Will your chorus be singing in acknowledgment and celebration of the new year?

Choral repertoire available for the topic of “new year” is unfortunately not that big at all. So, Yelton Rhodes was delighted to publish Karlan Judd‘s arrangement of the traditional tune “Auld Lang Syne” which features original lyrics by Glenn Geller. The piece is titled This Time Next Year, for solo, SATB and piano.

Karlan gives the following insight:

I don’t remember exactly what it was that inspired Glenn and I to write this song, but as I listen to it now I’m glad we did and it brings up some new feelings. With everything that is going on in the gay rights movement along with all of the recent horrible news about teenage suicides and gay-related attacks, it is easy to be angry about everything. It is easy to be angry at my family for their strong-held religious beliefs that call my lifestyle perverted, angry at politicians for not being brave enough to stand up for equality for all, angry at groups that seem to make it their mission to destroy us.

But, it is much much MUCH more important to remember the love that we share with friends and family, and to remember our desire to reach out to our fellow women and men and create relationships that bring us joy. I will not rid my heart of OUTRAGE at the mistreatment of myself or others. However, there is still love between me and my family, me and my friends on the right wing of politics, and hopefully between me and the people I meet every day. This song reminded me of the importance of cultivating this love within myself. I hope it can do the same thing for you and your chorus and maybe even your audience!

Currently the piece is only available for SATB voicing, but if you’re genuinely interested in having a men’s or women’s chorus perform it… leave a comment and we’ll try to convince Karlan to prepare an arrangement for TTBB or SSAA. Click on the links to view the first few pages and the last couple of pages of score.

This Time Next Year was premiered by the West Coast Singers. Here’s their performance (complete with a baby in the audience who decided to join the soloist) 🙂 :

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/judd.karlan/this.time.next.year.mp3]

The team at YRM is growing!

Publisher | composers,YRM | Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Yelton Rhodes Music is fortunate to welcome two bright, young and talented individuals to our staff!
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NILS PIETER DE MOL VAN OTTERLOO

If you’ve ordered music recently from YRM, you’ve likely already been in touch with Nils. He’s charged with processing music requests and handling customer correspondence. He also helps to keep the office in order, and assists the publisher with special projects.

Nils is originally from Marblehead, Massachusetts and studied music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He also pursued additional music studies at Bates College in Maine and at the Rotterdam Conservatory in the Netherlands. As a composer he likes to experiment with various electronic mediums, and has produced a number of ambient/alternative tracks on which he performed as a vocalist, guitarist and bassist. Nils is also a part-time photographer and is always searching for creative techniques and methods for his photographic endeavors.

He claims to have played field hockey in high school… with the girls. We’ll just have to trust him on that. 🙂

Examples of Nils’ music may be heard at http://myspace.com/otterbop.
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DALE TRUMBORE

Dale joins the YRM team as a score editor (specializing in Sibelius digital notation) and will soon be a contributing writer/blogger here at Choralicious.com as well.

She’s a native of Chatham, New Jersey, and just recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue her master’s degree in Music Composition at the University of Southern California. Along with her graduate studies, Dale keeps active composing a variety of concert works covering the spectrum from choral to instrumental. Her string quartet “How it will go” was premiered last fall by the Kronos Quartet, and she’s currently completing a commission for the Orange County Women’s Chorus to be performed this May. In addition to composing, Dale is an accomplished pianist and choral singer (she’s been performing this past year as a soprano in the USC Chamber Singers).

Dale may apparently live and breathe music, but she also holds a black belt in karate!

A sampling of Dale’s compositions may be heard at http://myspace.com/daletrumbore.

Randi Grundahl Rexroth: My True Love Hath My Heart

Publisher | a cappella,choral music,composers,famous poets,love,men's,secular,women's | Thursday, June 4th, 2009

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When YRM’s submission review committee first looked at Randi Grundahl Rexroth‘s My True Love Hath My Heart… we knew we had to publish it! The piece is a lovely and playful madrigal (a cappella) with a charming text written by Sir Philip Sydney, one of the Elizabethan Age’s most prominent figures.

What makes the way that Rexroth adapted the text particularly special is its ability to accommodate a variety of gender references. My True Love Hath My Heart is composed for either women’s or men’s chorus (download the first three pages of each score as a PDF by clicking on the links), with each voicing able to use either “his” or “her” pronouns. This flexibility allows a chorus to express themselves precisely as they’d like!

Randi shares the following story about the inspiration for the piece:

“I needed to give my boyfriend a Christmas gift, but I was not able to buy him much. After speaking with my mother, who is a composer herself, she sent me the Philip Sydney text. She had tried to set herself, but had come up short. I remember her saying “I wanted to compose a contemporary madrigal, but I just couldn’t hear it”. As soon as I received the words I heard this piece.

I wrote the song as a solo and recorded it as my gift. A month later, I arranged the piece to be an SSAA arrangement that would be used in our wedding. The choir that sang My True Love Hath My Heart was made up of students from the schools where we teach and was touted as a highlight of the ceremony.”

Randi Grundahl Rexroth’s My True Love Hath My Heart:
[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/rexroth.randi/my-true-love-hath-my-heart.mp3]

Randi Driscoll: What Matters (2002)

Publisher | choral music,composers,gay & lesbian,men's,mixed,secular,Topics,women's | Monday, July 21st, 2008

Two performances of “What Matters” by Randi Driscoll: the first by the composer (YouTube video), the second by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (an audio file:click the play button).


“What Matters”
Words, music, and performance by Randi Driscoll

This is an arrangement by Kevin Robison available in three voicings sung here is the TTBB version.

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/driscoll.randi/what.matters.ttbb.mp3]

What Matters (2002)
COMPOSER :: Randi Driscoll
ARRANGER :: Kevin Robison
INSTR :: chorus and piano
DURATION :: 04:00
YR2R11v1 Full score (TTBB) $1.85
YR2R11v2 Full score (SATB) $1.85
YR2R11v3 Full score (SSAA) $1.85

Lyrics

you were the brightest angel heaven had ever seen you walked in with a story to tell and ten thousand tongues to scream and you said doesn’t your heart beat the same as mine haven’t i told you a thousand times isn’t the air in my lungs the same air you breathe so who cares whose arms i’m all wrapped up in who cares whose eyes i see myself in who cares who i dream of who cares who i love heaven help me for i am lost what a price my love did cost but here i am standing strong and i am free and didn’t we share the same sunrise and sleep in the same moonlight isn’t the blood in my veins the same blood you bleed so when i die and they lay my body down the peace that i will find is the peace that brings you all around doesn’t my mother cry like everyone my father grieve for his lonely son isn’t my rainbow a little brighter because so who cares whose arms i’m all wrapped up in who cares whose eyes i see myself in who cares who i dream of no it doesn’t matter who i dream of ’cause in the end it only matters that i was loved and am loved love has no face

Copyright 2000 New Light Media

Notes by Randi Driscoll:

When I first heard the story of what happened to Matthew Shepard, I was saddened and outraged. I wanted to kick in my television, rip out my heart and cry all at the same time. I was horrified at what humans were capable of. However, I then remember seeing his parents, outside in the rain, shortly after his funeral. I was speechless and stricken by their sense of compassion and decency. I clearly remember the way the Shepards told us to pray for Matt and not harbor any feelings of hatred for his attackers. I also remember clearly how they described their son as a man who would not want us to hate…because Matthew loved and accepted everyone. Their grace moved me to tears.

So with that, I went into my bedroom and wrote a song about Matthew and the love he represents. I planned on sending a taped copy to his parents, as a form of my own personal condolences.

Later that month, however, I was playing a show at Borders Books and Music in San Diego. I was thinking of Matt a lot that day and for some reason, I chose to sing Matt’s song (which I hadn’t really even finished yet). What happened next was amazing. Men and women of all ages came up to me in tears and expressed how they had been so moved by what happened to Matthew. A mother of two small children reached for my hand and cried. A man came up to me and spoke through his tears. People clutched one another, crying. It was then that I realized how Matthew’s story had touched so many others

And then there was Dana. Dana LeeWood is another musician from San Diego. She was performing that evening as well. When Dana heard the song, she began to sob and immediately began to tell the audience how passionately she felt about this incident. It seemed Dana’s brother had taken his own life, due to the pressures he felt being a gay man in today’s world. Dana encouraged me to record the song. She pursued me for several weeks, bringing people to shows and talking about Matt’s story.

Finally in January, Dana amazed me by giving me some free studio time she had won at Studio West in San Diego. With the help of many musicians who shared their time and talents, and a small company in LA, we were able to record this song.

Dana hoped to share the song with many people by selling the CD single. We agreed that the only way to do this was to have all of the proceeds from the single go to anti-hate crime organizations: i.e.. The Matthew Shepard Foundation.

We decided to release only a limited pressing. We chose not to do a major media press release in hopes of maintaining the integrity of the project, but rather hold a small fund raiser at a local venue in town, Twiggs coffeehouse. Imagine our surprise when on March 5th, 1999, the intimate coffeehouse was packed to the gills with people. Local citizens and musicians came to help support the cause and to perform. A local publication, Slamm magazine, took out a full page ad on the benefit, and Tracy Page Presents donated prizes for a raffle. The evening was so beautiful. It brought me to tears to see the room packed with people who cared so very much.

That same evening we informed the audience about anti-hate crime organizations and made web site addresses available for them to take home. We were able to sell over over 200 CDs that evening alone. I can remember driving home with a feeling of hope that I hadn’t had in a while.

Through my contacts with anti-hate crime organizations, I was invited to meet with Judy Shepard on Easter Sunday in Laramie, Wyoming, to speak with her and share Matthew’s song. I sat next to a woman who had, only six months earlier, lost her son to a vicious hate crime. Yet, there was no hate that I could see. She spoke of her son with a warm smile….and with grace…always grace. She seemed determined to have his death not be in vain as she spoke about her hopes for a better tomorrow.

Along with Judy, there were many other angels that weekend in Laramie. Gathered outside of the courthouse in Laramie for a press conference in support of active measures against hate were members of GLSEN, Cathy Renna of GLAAD, Valerie Baker-Easley of LAMBDA , Marlene Hines of the North West Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, Jerry Switzer from the B.E.A.R. Foundation and many of Matthew’s friends. People standing together on common ground, grieving the loss of Matthew and praying for a better tomorrow. People breathing the same air…under the same Wyoming sky.

Since that time almost two years ago, I have traveled to over sixty cities in the USA and Canada performing the benefit single at charity events, pride festivals and concerts. I have traveled to several high schools and colleges with New Light Media as part of a program featuring the screening of the documentary Journey to a Hate- Free Millennium. I have also appeared as Judy Shepard’s guest in Oakland and the Millennium March on Washington.

I thank God for what this experience has taught me. I thank him for the numerous e-mails that I have received from people who have heard the song. People who have chosen to share their most intimate details with me. Stories of love, acceptance and hope. I also thank God for the people I’ve met at shows. I thank God for the woman who lost her friend to a suicide, for the man who received a copy of the song as an Easter gift and for the strangers who hug me with tears in their eyes and say thank you.

And I thank God for the Shepards. I have often said that this work is the most important work I have ever done….and this song, .the most important one I have ever written. I have seen angels, who believe as I do, that love is unconditional…that love has no face.

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