All proceeds to benefit Doylestown PA. community hospice program
There are times when an idea rings true like soothing music, comforting to all who listen.
The founders of the ‘Serenity Hospice Program of Doylestown’ are startled by the outpouring of sympathy and offers of support at both the international and local level, including some very special progressive rock personalities.
Seventeen outstanding artists have contributed their songs for a limited edition benefit CD, including Annie Haslam, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer & John Wetton of Asia, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge, Jann Klose, Robert Hazard, ‘Think of 3’, Pat DiNizio from ‘The Smithereens’, John B. Austin, Dave Rentz Quartet with Bob Miles, Tony Repici, Sterling Koch, Fran Jones & Kevin Mackie, James D. Harvey, Mickey Litt, The Luck Brothers, and Steve Pullara.
This is their story.
The Serenity House Hospice Program
This program was created by registered nurse and Doylestown Borough resident Nina McKissock, whose dream is to create which she describes in comforting terms as, a ‘bed and breakfast’-type facility for the terminally ill”.
The mission statement from the program reads:
"Honoring last wishes of the individual, listening to life stories, providing support for the caregivers and ensuring safety and soothing for the dying is our motivation"…
The non-profit program will offer free services to the surrounding municipalities. It is based on five core values: compassion, comfort, privacy, dignity and cooperation. The goal is to raise 1.7 million dollars by spring of 2008 for the building of the new hospice facility in the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside.
A site has been selected and as soon as enough funding is generated, the construction companies are ready to do the work.
The Serenity House CD
The Serenity House CD is the brainchild Kevin Mackie, one of the founding partners of East Coast Recording Studio in Warminster, PA.
Kevin Mackie learned of Nina’s program one day from an article for the Serenity House hospice in a local newspaper. He said: "Until my own grandmother became terminally ill, I didn't know what a hospice was. I was very impressed with the specialized hospice environment we had chosen for the care of my grandmother until she passed on."
Kevin is the bassist for the band ‘Think of 3’. His own band donated the song ‘Somewhere’ for the CD, written and sung by Alexis Hoover, who administers the MySpace site where the CD can be purchased.
Kevin had previously produced a CD for the fund-raising project, Enviro-Aid and was looking for a worthy cause. He found it in Nina McKissock’s program and immediately started contacting musicians.
The Musicians join in
The Serenity House CD itself was a labour of love involving a community of musicians who banded together for a common purpose. Kevin managed to get aid from international recording artists such as Asia and Jethro Tull.
Says Kevin: “I decided to start contacting (from information I obtained through the Internet) artists that I felt would be interested in this kind of project. Early on, Annie Haslam (who is from the Bucks County area) agreed to be part of this project. Soon after that, I was talking to my friend Steve Pullara (Cool Beans Music) and he suggested I contact a woman named Anne Leighton (Media Relations) for help.”
“Anne quickly got permission from Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) to use one of his songs, ‘Brown Mouse’. She also recommended other national acts which included Jann Klose, whom she manages.”
Kevin has been awed by the passionate support he has received from the artists who donated to the new CD. Annie Haslam, the golden voice of Renaissance, in particular, went over the top and surprised everyone by volunteering to paint original artwork, a semi-surrealist rendition based on the actual architects’ plan for "Serenity House".
Giclee copies of Annie’s painting on canvas, are available through her website http://www.anniehaslam.com/ah_letter.html. She is donating all proceeds to the 'Serenity House' fund.
Annie designed the whole CD package with graphic artist Krista Wallhagen, as well as contributing a song for the CD and being involved in the creation of a very special video (more about this below!).
Kevin: “Annie Haslam became more involved with the project and helped me get other artists, too. Both Annie and Anne are caring individuals and saw that this was a cause that they believed in.”
Annie said, “The actual CD is wonderful - an unusual array of musical styles that are quite diverse but fit together so well because of the sentiment behind them.”
The Serenity Centrifuge video
Kevin had another trick up his sleeve as well. A video was filmed at the brand new facilities of the East Coast Recording Studio and released on YouTube to create awareness for the Serenity House project. This is not an ordinary video by any means!
What you will see is Annie Haslam singing a rendition of "'Michael' Prince of Angels" (the song that she and Rave Tesar donated), in a centrifuge chamber.
What's that about a centrifuge chamber? Well, you'll have to watch to believe it!
The idea for recording a video in the centrifuge is a great attention getter - the video description reads:
East Coast Recording company makes an amazing discovery in their new facilities: the Original Centrifuge used to train the Apollo Astronauts!
Kevin said: "I thought using the centrifuge, for extra publicity, for the CD was a good idea. Annie Haslam and Anne Leighton were talking about it and came up with the idea for putting it on YouTube."
In fact, the East Coast Recording company had only been at the new location for about a month when the video was shot. They don’t have any plans to use the centrifuge itself, as the equipment takes an enormous amount of electricity to run and it has to be operated by a team of professionals. But the chamber itself does have wonderful acoustics!
Kevin: "I do know that it is the original centrifuge used for training Air Force pilots and Astronauts. Sam Cravero (Jim Cravero's brother. Jim is one of our partners) owns the building and is restoring it for future use. He’s also looking into the idea of trying to find a museum for the centrifuge to find a new home in"
Kevin mans the control console in the video while Annie jokingly refers to herself as a 'nuclear physicist' – yet the clarity and emotion of this unique performance will send shivers down your spine.
(Learn more about the centrifuge here).
A CD listening party emceed by Grover Silcox - Producer/Reporter for PBS Channel 39 featuring live music from local musicians that took part in the CD was held on September 6th, 2007 at PUCK (85 Printers Alley), in Doylestown. The event was covered by local newspapers/radio stations. Photos are here.
Media Support and Internet CD Sales
This special CD is being marketed on the internet. All proceeds go directly to the 'Serenity House and Hospice Support of Doylestown, Inc.'
To make a donation, purchase the benefit CD or to meet the wonderful people involved in the program and learn what you can do to help, visit http://myspace.com/serenityhouseCD.
For information, call Serenity House and Hospice Support of Doylestown at 267-880-3480.
To learn more about the proposed hospice facilities, click here.
My thanks to Kevin Mackie for assistance in providing information on the program.
May you reach your goal in the shortest time possible!
Release party photos by Krista Wallhagen