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.

Oldies but goodies for the holidays!

July through September is typically when most choirs endeavor to plan the programs for their holiday concerts. And for artistic directors and chorus singers who have discovered the YRM catalog fairly recently, we thought it might be helpful to provide lists of those holiday pieces which have proven to be the best-selling and most popular. Perhaps even loyal customers may find that information to be of use. So, after a careful and thorough review of sales reports… here they are (for each voicing – mixed, men’s chorus and women’s chorus, with titles listed alphabetically)!

SATB Most Popular_

CHRISTMAS (ORIGINAL WORDS and/or MUSIC)

YR1213v2 Christmas Brunch (Sturgis/Johnson)
YR1212v2 Coming Out on Christmas (Sturgis/Johnson)
YR2301v2 Christmas is the Warmest Time of the Year (Hall/Mamey)
YR1117v2 If Not At Christmas (MacDuff/Henderson)
YR1401.2v1 Shines a Star (Perry/Carlson)
YR3508v2 This Holiday (Steve Milloy)
YR3102v2 Tomorrow Shall Be My Shopping Day (Sturgis/Moore)
YR1J17v2 What a Gay ‘Ol Christmas Tree (Ravetch/Judd)
YR9115 The Work of Christmas (Thurman/Hardin)
YR1103v2 You’re Home for the Holidays (Daggett/Henderson)

CHRISTMAS (ARRANGEMENTS)

YR1N11 All Hayle to the Days (Elizabeth Norton)
YR8700 Carol of the Bells (Leontovich/Saladino)
YR5505 Hark! (in ⅞) (Mendelssohn/Landau)
YR3501v2 In the Spirit (Three Spirituals) (Steve Milloy)
YR7700 O Tannenbaum (Oh Christmas Tree) (Glenn M. Carlos)

HANUKKAH

YR1121v2 Flame of Faith (Marcus/Henderson)
YR7121v2 Flames So Bright at Chanukah (Dennis W. Rosenbaum)
YR6701v2 For All To See (Jerald Thomas Hawhee)
YR2600v2 Three Hanukkah Songs (Charles Baker)
YR3131v2 Likhtelekh (Light the Lamps) (Bachlund/Moore)

KWANZAA

YR5203v2 Harambee (Joseph Jennings)
YR2508 Kwanzaa Spirit (Ginger Starling)

WINTER SOLSTICE/SEASON

YR1109 Circle Dance (Gwiazdowsky/Henderson)
YR1401.1 Hymn of Winter (Longfellow/Carlson)
YR6204v2 Kore Evohe (Kelleher/Schrag)
YR9916v2 The Longest Night (Middleton/Shelton)
YR9305v2 A New December (David Frank Long)
YR1600v2 A Season for Lovers (John-Michael Albert)
YR6407v2 Solstice Carol (Diane Benjamin)
YR4304v2 Song of the Solstice (Near/Langley)
YR1112v1 Under the Holly Bough (Mackay/Henderson)
YR9301v2 Winter Solstice Moon (David Frank Long)

TTBB Most Popular_

CHRISTMAS (ORIGINAL WORDS and/or MUSIC)

YR1212v1 Coming Out on Christmas (Sturgis/Johnson)
YR3507 The Davey Dinckle Song (Crom/Milloy)
YR1011v1 Fa la la (Blah blah blah) (MacDuff/Bourland)
YR9713 Homo for the Holidays (Strangis/Smith)
YR1117v1 If Not At Christmas (MacDuff/Henderson)
YR3R11 Santa, Won’t You Please Come Back (Pingree/Richardson)
YR3508v1 This Holiday (Steve Milloy)
YR3102v1 Tomorrow Shall Be My Shopping Day (Sturgis/Moore)
YR1200 Welcome! Sing, Be Merry! (Dean X. Johnson)
YR1103v1 You’re Home for the Holidays (Daggett/Henderson)

CHRISTMAS (ARRANGEMENTS)

YR3113P Appalachian Carols (Larry Moore)
YR3504v2 Behold That Star! (Steve Milloy)
YR3817 Three Christmas Carols (Eric Helmuth)
YR7500 God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (Alex Rybeck)
YR8202 Hallelujah Chorus (Handel’s “Messiah”) (Ralph R. Hays)
YR3110 The Holly and the Ivy (Larry Moore)
YR3124 Masters in This Hall (Larry Moore)
YR3303 O Holy Night (J.A. Kawarsky)
YR1C11 Procesión jíbara (Puertorican Carol) (Edgar Colón-Hernández)
YR4903 There Shall a Star (Mendelssohn/Trinkley)

HANUKKAH

YR6101 Dreidel A-Go-Go (Jeffrey Moidel)
YR1102 Hanukkah (Gerson/Henderson)
YR1903 Hanukkah Blessings (David York)
YR2600v1 Three Hanukkah Songs (Charles Baker)
YR2L13v1P Oseh Shalom (Paul Leavitt)

KWANZAA

YR5203v1 Harambee (Joseph Jennings)

WINTER SOLSTICE/SEASON

YR9305v1 A New December (David Frank Long)
YR1600v1 A Season for Lovers (John-Michael Albert)
YR2403v1 Triumphant Light Fanfare and Hymn (Donald Skirvin)
YR1112v1 Under the Holly Bough (Mackay/Henderson)
YR9301v1 Winter Solstice Moon (David Frank Long)

SSAA Most Popular_

CHRISTMAS (ORIGINAL WORDS and/or MUSIC)

YR1213v3 Christmas Brunch (Sturgis/Johnson)
YR1212v3 Coming Out on Christmas (Sturgis/Johnson)
YR1011v3 Fa la la (Blah blah blah) (MacDuff/Bourland)
YR3508v3 This Holiday (Steve Milloy)
YR4321 Why Oh Why (Joan Szymko)

CHRISTMAS (ARRANGEMENTS)

YR4012 Angels We Have Heard On High (Naomi Stephan)
YR4014 In Dulci Jubilo (Naomi Stephan)
YR3501v3 In the Spirit (Three Spirituals) (Steve Milloy)
YR9107 Maria durch ein Dornwald ging (Clif Hardin)
YR1C12v2 Tres Estrellitas (Three Little Stars) (Edgar Colón-Hernández)

HANUKKAH

YR6701v3 For All To See (Jerald Thomas Hawhee)
YR2600v3 Three Hanukkah Songs (Charles Baker)
YR6700v3 Nes Gadol Haya Sham (Jerald Thomas Hawhee)

KWANZAA

YR5203v3 Harambee (Joseph Jennings)

WINTER SOLSTICE/SEASON

YR6204v1 Kore Evohe (Kelleher/Schrag)
YR9916v3 The Longest Night (Middleton/Shelton)
YR9305v3 A New December (David Frank Long)
YR3406v1 Sacred Circle (Ruth Huber)
YR6407v1 Solstice Carol (Diane Benjamin)
YR1112v1 Under the Holly Bough (Mackay/Henderson)
YR9301v3 Winter Solstice Moon (David Frank Long)

Dennis Rosenbaum: Velvet Shoes

Publisher | choral music,famous poets,gay & lesbian,men's,mixed,winter season,women's | Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Walk in the snow

Once again it is July and thoughts at YRM are turning to snow… with a couple of new publications that touch upon the subject of winter (just in time for your winter concert programming consideration, of course!).

The first of these two new scores (the second one will be featured next week!) is a setting of Elinor Wylie‘s poem Velvet Shoes by Dennis Rosenbaum. He first became acquainted with this text when he heard Randall Thompson’s choral setting at an assembly in the seventh grade. He was intrigued by the imagery of walking in fresh fallen snow being likened to walking in “velvet shoes.”

To his delight that very poem was presented for study in an English class just a few weeks later. The text stuck with him over the years, and he was inspired to do his own musical setting in 2003. His intention was as follows:

“The overall mood I strove to create throughout the piece was one of romantic intimacy – a walk through virgin snow with a lover in a world which is quiet, hushed, and tranquil after a snowstorm; a moment which is private, event though it takes place in a public setting, a walk that becomes the moment when a relationship “gels,” and is ever after remembered as the start of that commitment.

The calm of the final plagal cadence represents the lovers resting into their new commitment to each other. The end result of the piece shows the calm of the outer world contrasted with the internal passion of the lovers taking a walk in “velvet shoes” for the first time in their relationship. In the end, the listener is taken on a journey not only through freshly fallen snow, but into the romance of the couple walking through it.”

This thoughtful and lovely piece is ideal for those choruses wanting to program music that touches upon the subject of winter, but isn’t tied to any particular holiday celebration. Velvet Shoes is available for men’s chorus, mixed chorus and women’s chorus with piano accompaniment (click on the link to view partial score PDFs).

Here’s a clip of a concert performance by the Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus:

Sousa/Kuzma: The Stars and Stripes Forever

Publisher | choral music,humor,men's,mixed,patriotic,women's | Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

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Happy Fourth of July! In honor of the U.S.A.’s Independence Day, we’d like to share John Kuzma‘s fun and quirky arrangement of John Philip Sousa‘s spirited march, The Stars and Stripes Forever. This performance was done by the Heartland Men’s Chorus (the arrangement is also available for SATB and SSAA).

Randi Driscoll: Love Is Love

Publisher | choral music,gay & lesbian,love,men's,mixed,uu,women's | Friday, June 27th, 2014

Randi2CroppedFinalWebOnly
The year was 2008, a decade after Randi Driscoll had composed what matters, a beautiful and moving tribute to Matthew Shepard. The songwriter was troubled to see her home state of California embroiled in the controversial battle over Proposition 8 and was inspired to pen Love Is Love as a response.

“[The song was] written as I contemplated where we stood as a country ten years after Matthew Shepard’s death, but more importantly, where I envisioned we, as a society could grow and evolve to. It is my hope for a better tomorrow.”

She collaborated with Kevin Robison (with whom she also worked on what matters) to have the piece arranged for a performance by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. Tim McKnight then adapted Robison’s arrangement for mixed and women’s chorus.

As LGBT Pride Month draws to a close, and in celebration of the momentous progress that has been achieved regarding LGBT rights since the fateful passage of Prop 8 nearly six years ago, Yelton Rhodes Music is excited to announce this new addition to our catalog! Please note that the writers have graciously agreed to donate all royalties from sales of this choral arrangement to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

[excerpt from lyrics]
There’s a million voices singing by the river,
There’s a hundred lovers dancing in the sand.
There’s a bridge that brings the two sides together,
And a peace that paints the skyline of the land.

Oh, the candles on the water,
The colors of the rainbow light the sky.
Oh, bless all your sons and daughters
So they may never have to know
How hard we had to fight for Love.
Love is love is love is love.

loveislovephoto copy

Download partial score PDFs of Love Is Love for men’s chorus, mixed chorus, and women’s chorus.

Here’s a recording of the solo version of Randi’s song (we hope to have a recording of the choral arrangement soon!):

When it is summertime and your mind is on holiday music…

holiday
For many choral directors, the holidays REALLY begin in the summer as they consider what music to program for their upcoming concerts in November and December. It can be tricky trying to focus on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Winter Solstice when you’re dealing with July-August heat, vacations, and fireworks!

YRM customers frequently inquire, “What’s new in the catalog regarding holiday music?”

So, here’s a breakdown of the latest additions from the past three years (Click on the voicings to see a few pages from each score as PDFs. For those pieces which were featured in our 2010 Holiday Sampler, the links will take you directly to that download page):

All Hayle to the Days YR1N11 – traditional English carol arranged by Elizabeth Norton. SATB a cappella. Category: Christmas/Winter season

Campana Sobre Campana YR1C18v1-3 – traditional Andalucian carol arranged by Edgar Colón-Hernández. TTBB, SATB or SSAA a cappella. Category: Christmas

Christmas is a Season YR4C11 – original music and words by Jennifer Covert. SSAA, cello, piano and sleigh bells. Category: Christmas

Christmas Wish, A YR1D12 – original music and words by Ann MacDonald Diers. SATB a cappella. Category: Christmas/General holiday

Davey Dinckle Song, The YR3507 – original song by Rick Crom, arranged by Steve Milloy. TTBB, solos and piano. Caategory: Christmas/humor

Festive Joy and Peace YR3C11P – original song by Rich Cook and Cathy Bridges, arranged by Rich Cook. TTBB and piano. Category: General holiday

Marrying on Christmas Day YR9307- original words by John Sobrack and music by David Frank Long. TTBB (with optional soloists) and piano. Category: Christmas/humor

Mary’s First Lullaby YR5S13 – original music and words by Jonathan Santore. SATB and cello or piano. Category: Christmas

Peace In Your Heart YR2D11v1-2 – original music and words by Michael Davis. TTBB or SATB and piano. Category: General holiday

Still, Still, Still YR3C12 – traditional Austrian carol arranged by Rich Cook. TTBB a cappella with tenor solo. Category: Christmas

These Holidays! YR2D12v1-2 – original music and words by Michael Davis. TTBB or SATB a cappella. Category: General holiday

This Holiday YR3508v1-3 – original music and words by Steve Milloy. TTB, SAB or SSA and piano w optional guitar, bass and drums. Category: General holiday

Together This Christmas YR7502 – original words by Barbara Fried / music by Alex Rybeck. Solos, TTBB and piano. Category: Christmas

Winter Blessing YR5M12v1-3 – original music and words by Lynn Fisher McCanne. TTBB, SATB or SSAA a cappella. Category: Solstice/Winter Season

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

Michael Davis: Peace In Your Heart

Publisher | choral music,christmas (secular),men's,mixed,uu,winter solstice | Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

peace
It’s the first full week of October! Most choruses have already started their fall rehearsal season, many in anticipation of an upcoming holiday concert this December. Some of those choruses may still be figuring out their program… and that’s where this blog tends to come in handy! :)

YRM put out holiday samplers earlier this summer featuring all of our newest publications. This blog can go even further, however, in giving you a little additional insight to some of those pieces.

To start… I’d like to introduce you to a new YRM writer, Michael Davis, and his recently published Peace In Your Heart (A Holiday Carol). This vibrant, up-tempo work has a touch of jazz attitude, and offers a positive message for the holiday season.

Michael shared the following thoughts about composing this piece:

I wrote Peace In Your Heart for the 2008 holiday carol competition sponsored by the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus. The theme was “peace” and I didn’t want to write the slow, pretty song with a flute solo that I imagined people would expect from me (I’m a flutist, LOL). I thought that there would already plenty of those kinds of songs on the program and that something with a little more attitude and bite would have a better chance of being selected.

My plan worked. It won, and they sang it more beautifully than I could ever imagine. Some people even told me it was their favorite song on the program (no small compliment with some of the master works the chorus sang on that concert).

I wanted to convey the message that embracing diversity could be a path to inner peace, but I didn’t want to preach. I think I achieved that by asking questions instead of issuing statements. Hopefully, I wasn’t too subtle. Above all I wanted to write a fun song. If it doesn’t make people move and smile, then I’d be very disappointed.

By the way, it looks a lot harder than it actually is because of the jazz/blues influence. One guy in the chorus told me it “scared” him when he first saw it, but the words flow with the music very well and when he figured it out it was a piece of cake.

I hope to see a video one day with lots of diversity and hilarious costumes.

Peace In Your Heart (A Holiday Carol) is available in both SATB and TTBB voicings (click on the links to check out the first and last few pages of each score as PDFs).

Listen to Michael DavisPeace In Your Heart (A Holiday Carol) as performed by the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus:

David Hahn:Tirlee! Tirlo!

Publisher | a cappella,choral music,christmas (sacred),mixed | Friday, July 17th, 2009

Shepherds with their pipes
With the bright sunny sky overhead and the heat of July permeating throughout the city of Los Angeles, I’m contemplating Christmas. Many choruses are beginning to plan their upcoming holiday concert now, so I decided to feature a newly published work by a new YRM writer, Seattle-based David Hahn. Tirlee! Tirlo! is a jubilant Christmas carol for mixed chorus a cappella. The text is from 15th century England, and the music is original. This piece is a wonderful example of how contemporary musical settings can bring such unique layers of meaning and expression to centuries-old texts.

When asked for some special insights about the piece, Hahn shared the following words:

The image of the three Kings visiting the manger and delivering their rich gifts is well represented in text and iconography. Tirlee! Tirlo! shows what the lowly shepherds had to offer the new-born Christ child: the spirited sounds of their pipes. The lyrics depict the joy which the shepherds felt as they witnessed the happy events and signs surrounding the birth of Christ. This is a song of celebration and the brief chorus following each verse mimes the pipes of the merry shepherds as they mark the day.

I am a scholar of renaissance and medieval music and find the most inspired vocal music–both sacred and secular–from those periods of music history. Consequently, for the Christmas carol Tirlee! Tirlo!, I set a text from a 15th-century England found in Bodleian Library at Oxford University. I set it in a way that the music would be compelling and fun to sing while remaining accessible for amateurs.

To see how the piece begins and ends, just click on the links to download score excerpts as PDFs.

Listen to David Hahn’s Tirlee! Tirlo!:

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.

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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