Album of the Week – ‘Beautiful Life’ by Jimmy Greene
‘Beautiful Life’ by Jimmy Greene is Eastside radio’s Album of the week.
‘Beautiful Life’ hopes to capture the innocence, naivety and joyfulness tragically stolen during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December of 2012. Greene’s then six-year-old daughter Ana Márquez-Greene was one of the 20 students and six teachers who were sadly caught up in the event. The album serves many purposes; a fathers grieving process, the reunification of a community, an eternal eulogy, a symbol of human kindness and support but most importantly it was conceived under the proviso of being a celebration of the youthful and spirited way of life that only a child can bring. “I want the music to reflect the way that Ana lived…” says Greene.
From a purely musical perspective ‘Beautiful Life’ is an outstanding record. It effortlessly amalgamates intense traditional jazz instrumentation, religious hymns, solo and choral vocal arrangements and homemade samples into a harmonious and contemporary artwork. Not only this but the saying that there can be ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ springs to mind when reading the oversized bill squeezed into just ten tracks. The secret is Greene’s leadership and clear vision unifying the process and his strength to attack and manipulate such strong influences and juxtapositions with a decisive mind. Approaching to the one year anniversary of the tragedy Greene explained, “In the days after my daughter was killed, playing and writing music wasn’t even a thought…I needed to get back to some sense of routine,” and so birthed the album.
Although vocal composition was unknown territory for Greene before this project, his lyrical sensitivity and ability to covey emotion is unwavering. “Ana loved to sing and listen to singers, and had a wonderful singing voice,” taking this characteristic of his beloved daughter as the core motivator to include and attempt such writing. ‘Anna’s Way’ is no exception to this, featuring the vocal styling’s of Kurt Elling and is a lyrical reinterpretation of one of Greene’s older compositions ‘Ana Grace’. Other recognisable vocals such as “Maybe’ from Annie and ‘Where Is Love?’ from Oliver were pieces that the six-year-old loved to sing and dance to, making their addition to the record a no brainer. ‘Beautiful Life’ by Jimmy Greene is truly a record of beauty and showcases music’s ability to heal.
Jimmy Greene about the project:
“Music has a unique way of communicating and healing. I’m so thankful that music is my profession – that I am able to write and arrange to create settings that convey the emotions I experience, not the least of which is the pain that my family and I have endured at a time when words fail….I want the music to reflect the way that Ana lived…”
” In the days after my daughter was killed, playing and writing music wasn’t even a thought. I was very much in shock, grieving deeply and trying to just function coherently. Family and friends surrounded us and held us up, and we received 10,000 communications—emails, texts, Facebook messages, voice calls, letters—from people around the world. The community of musicians was front and center for that support. When I called, they responded, ‘Whatever you need, just say the word, and I’ll be there.’”
“Many people have asked what they can do to help, and this is my answer,” Greene says. “Let’s remember what happened at Sandy Hook. We can each hold up our end of the bargain, which is to somehow learn to love ourselves, and then see past ourselves and love our neighbor. That’s pretty simple, but if we all did it, I think our existence would be different.”
“Much attention has been paid to the way my precious Ana died, but this album attempts to paint the picture of how she lived — lovingly, faithfully and joyfully. In a way, this recording also represents a reaction. Not a reaction to the discourse sparked by the events of December 14, 2012, but rather the reaction of a father after having witnessed a miracle — the miracle of his daughter’s beautiful life.”
Piano – Renee Rosnes, Kenny Barron and Cyrus Chestnut;
Bass – Christian McBride
Drums – Lewis Nash,
Guitarist – Pat Metheny and Jonathan DuBose Jr
Vocalists – Kurt Elling, Javier Colon Latanya Farrell
Spoken Words – Anika Noni Rose;
13-piece string ensemble from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra
An accomplished children’s choir.
A portion of the proceeds from Beautiful Life will be donated to the following charities in Ana’s name:
The Ana Grace Project of Klingberg Family Centers—initiated by Greene’s wife Nelba, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, to promote love, community and connection for every child and family through partnerships with schools, mental health providers, community organizations and faith leaders. The Artists Collective—where generations of children and families in Greater Hartford have gained access to world-class training in the arts
You can follow Jimmy Greene’s career via his FACEBOOK page http://www.mackavenue.com/artists/detail/jimmy_greene
Be sure to tune in this week to 89.7FM EASTSIDE RADIO for your chance to WIN a copy of ‘Beautiful Life’ by Jimmy Greene.
You must be a supporter to win so make sure to sign up at http://eastsidefm.org/support-us-2/. Don’t forget you can also stream the station at www.eastsidefm.org.
About the Ana Grace Project:
In keeping with the mission of The Ana Grace Project to promote love, community and connection for every child and family our goal is to identify the most effective ways to build community and interpersonal connection to prevent violence and promote recovery. This is to be accomplished through research, practical tools, professional development and public policy.
Nelba Marquez-Greene, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Founder and Director, The Ana Grace Project of Klingberg Family Centers
Nelba Marquez-Greene has deep knowledge and a long history of service in the area of mental health. She is a clinical fellow of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and has worked in private practice, community mental health and academic settings in the U.S. and Canada. Prior to founding the Ana Grace Project of Klingberg Family Centers, Nelba served as the Coordinator for Klingberg Family Therapy Center’s outpatient child and adolescent psychiatric clinic and was an adjunct faculty member at Central Connecticut State University. But of all the titles she’s ever held- being a mother to Ana and Isaiah and wife to Jimmy are her most treasured.
The Greene/Marquez-Greene family had only moved to Sandy Hook, CT from Canada four months before the shooting that took their beloved daughter’s life. Ana Grace was 6 years old. Nelba has chosen to commit her life to raising her surviving son who was also in the building the day of the shooting.
Nelba and her husband Jimmy have partnered with Klingberg Family Centers to develop
“The Ana Grace Project.” The goal of The Ana Grace Project is to promote love, community and connection for every child and family. “Love wins” is the family slogan they adopted after Ana’s senseless murder. It inspired the composition of a song by the same name written by Harry Connick, Jr.
Promoting love, community and connection for every child and family.
1) Establishing programs in classrooms and communitiesthat focus on empathy and self regulation.
2) Engaging providers, parents and community members alike in professional development opportunities in trauma, ACES, toxic stress, mental health, etc.
3) Promoting awareness for effective health delivery systems for children like Ana, Adam and every child in between.
If you want to donate, support or find out more about the project head to FACEBOOK or anagraceproject.org