Music world helps Newtown heal following massacre

Associated Press
FILE - In this  Feb. 3, 2013 file photo, Jennifer Hudson performs with students from Sandy Hook Elementary School singing "America the Beautiful" before the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans.  In the weeks since the school shooting, the music world has helped the town come together and heal. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
.

View photo

FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2013 file photo, Jennifer Hudson performs with students from Sandy Hook Elementary School singing "America the Beautiful" before the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans. In the weeks since the school shooting, the music world has helped the town come together and heal. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — When 6-year-old Dylan Hockley was memorialized at a service following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, his parents were especially moved by one song.

A writer, Dushyanthi Satchi, had reworked the lyrics to the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah," from Dylan's favorite movie, "Shrek."

"Dylan's Hallelujah" begins, "It's calm, it's clear, it's a peaceful day, walking through the heavenly gates, hand in hand with teachers and my friends."

"That one thing — that song — has been quite healing for us," Nicole Hockley, Dylan's mother, said Thursday.

There have been many musical tributes to the victims of the Dec. 14 tragedy, some put on by world famous performers, others by local musicians and many involving the children of Newtown.

Professional football players were on the verge of tears when a group of 26 children who escaped the Newtown shooting, including Dylan's older brother, Jake, joined Jennifer Hudson at the Super Bowl to sing "America the Beautiful." Another group of Newtown children will perform before the Grammy Awards this weekend.

"Humans have used music in healing forever," said Jane Matson, the choral director at Newtown High School. "It expresses our feelings and gets emotion out in a way that's constructive and beautiful. So I don't think it's any surprise that in trying to heal here, we would turn to music."

Members of Matson's chamber choir were among about 80 Newtown students who performed with dozens of Broadway stars including Brian Stokes Mitchell, Christine Ebersole and even Monkees frontman Micky Dolenz at a benefit show in Waterbury. The event "From Broadway with Love" was put on by Broadway producer Van Dean, who lives in nearby Trumbull and composer Brett Boles, who grew up in Newtown.

The choir joined star Michael Cerveris to sing "Sunday," a song from "Sunday in the Park with George" about finding the calm after chaos. They also sang "Somewhere" from West Side Story.

That show, whose audience included first responders and the parents of Sandy Hook victims, also featured the choir from Sandy Hook Elementary, on video, singing their school song.

"The idea was to have as many children as possible be a part of it, to give them something to get excited about," Dean said.

High school choir member Kyle Watkins said it was a chance for him and other Newtown kids to experience something positive, to express themselves and to feel like they were helping.

"Newtown is my home and the people are kind of like my family," he said. "A lot of us wanted to do something, but didn't know how to help. So for the choir, our way was singing. It was a miraculous experience."

That's also why Sabrina Post brought students from her performing arts school in Newtown to the nearby home recording studio of former Talking Head and TomTom Club band members Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, where they recorded a version of "Over the Rainbow" with folk singer Ingrid Michaelson.

Post said she wanted to show the children they could make a difference.

"One little girl, her neighbor died," she said. "And she said she thinks of her as singing with us when she sings."

The song rose to No. 12 on iTunes and to No. 2 on Amazon.com, said Tim Hayes, who co-produced the recording.

The children have been asked to perform this Sunday for the E! Network's Grammy Awards preshow, a segment that will air from Newtown. They also sang last month during a two-day concert event at the Ridgefield Playhouse, where other performers included Johnny Winters, Paul Shaffer and Paul Simon, who also sang at the funeral of Newtown teacher Victoria Soto.

Hayes said the children will do no other events after Sunday.

"We know the kids involved have had a wonderful experience, but we think this chapter is now done, and we want these kids to get back to being kids," he said.

Many of the events have raised thousands of dollars for various Newtown-related causes, such as mental health care for the first responders or children's programs at the local sports center. More than 50 local bands performed in clubs around Hartford one day last month to benefit the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.

This Sunday, a free concert will be held in Ridgefield. Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame helped organize the event after speaking with the family of Ben Wheeler, one of the children who died.

Yarrow said this performance, which features folk and blues artists such as Dar Williams and Guy Davis, is intentionally not a fundraiser. Guests, he said, will include Newtown families and first responder networks, educators and political leaders, with the theme of coming together to bring positive change to society.

"This is not post-Sandy, where you need supplies and food," he said. "My intuition is this community needs an event that brings music and a tone of caring, healing and togetherness. We need to let them know they are not alone in a way that is helpful to them."

Stokes Mitchell, the Broadway star, said that is exactly what he felt at Waterbury's Palace Theater while singing "The Impossible Dream," a song that speaks about striving to right the unrightable wrong.

"Music has this strange power, more than any other art form, to talk to your soul directly," he said. "In some ways, it can bypass your brain and it goes right into your heart, right into your soul, right into your being."

View Comments (61)

Recommended for You

  • Police officer shot after responding to wrong home

    ATLANTA (AP) — A police officer was shot and critically wounded Monday when he responded to a call of a suspicious person and showed up at the wrong house, authorities said.

    Associated Press
  • Man sentenced to life with no parole walks free in Missouri

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man sentenced to life in prison without parole on a marijuana-related charge walked out of a Missouri prison a free man on Tuesday, after spending two decades behind bars.

    Associated Press
  • Woman Becoming Nun Needs Friend's Interest, Not Concern

    DEAR ABBY: I was best friends with "Joanne" after we met in middle school. She comes from a conservative Christian family and has three successful siblings. This has made her quirky, media-driven pursuits and city life a disappointment to her family. When we were teens and she learned that I was a…

    Dear Abby
  • Video of Israeli soldier arresting boy becomes latest in war of perception

    A soldier pins a boy down and is assaulted by his family: The scene might have gone unnoticed if not for footage that has turned it into another weapon in the Israel-Palestinian war of perception. Palestinians see it as proof of Israel's abuses in the occupied West Bank, while many Israelis say the…

    AFP
  • Sheriff: Suspect kills mother, stepfather, grandmother

    Outfitted in camouflage and armed with a high-powered rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition, Robert Seth Denton fatally shot his mother, stepfather and grandmother while six children witnessed the carnage in the family's double-wide mobile home in eastern Tennessee, a sheriff said Monday.

    Associated Press
  • Boko Haram killers on horseback massacre nearly 80 in NE Nigeria

    Suspected Boko Haram gunmen on horseback shot dead nearly 80 people in attacks on three villages in Nigeria's restive northeast at the weekend, a vigilante and residents told AFP on Monday. Babakura Kolo, a vigilante fighting Boko Haram, said 68 people were killed in the attack on Baanu village in…

    AFP
  • China party says no disrespect meant with Jiang sign removal

    By Ben Blanchard BEIJING (Reuters) - The removal of a stone plinth sign written by former Chinese president Jiang Zemin at the entrance of a key Communist Party training center is not a sign of disrespect, a senior official said on Monday, after rumors of destabilizing party infighting. Jiang…

    Reuters
  • View

    Kentucky county clerk refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses (26 photos)

    Gay couples in a Kentucky county are expected at the courthouse door Tuesday morning after the Supreme Court ruled against a defiant clerk who has refused to hand out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court ruled against the county clerk who refused to issue gay marriage licenses,…

    Yahoo News
  • Investigators: Arizona woman acknowledges drowning twin sons

    PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona woman told investigators that she drowned her 2-year-old twin sons and tried to kill her 3-year-old stepbrother in the same way because she didn't want them to live with the difficulties she faces.

    Associated Press
  • View

    The back alleys of one of America’s most dangerous cities (31 photos)

    High-tech policing and a renewed focus on community-officer partnerships are helping to bring calm to Camden, N.J., but it hasn’t been a cure-all. The impoverished town of 77,000 is still the most violent and crime-plagued city in the Garden State. A local policeman recently took Yahoo News…

    Yahoo News
  • Daughter Deep In Debt Needs Counseling, Not More Money

    DEAR ABBY: Three years ago I gave my adult daughter, married with a child, more than $16,000 to help pay off her debts because she couldn't pay her bills. She and her husband maintain separate accounts, which I find odd. He pays certain expenses; she pays others. Now I find she's deep in debt again…

    Dear Abby
  • Obama slams 'completely unacceptable' cop killing

    President Barack Obama vowed Monday to push for police officer safety after a Texas sheriff's deputy was gunned down from behind and shot multiple times at close range. Darren Goforth, 47, was killed late Friday in the Houston area, and local officials have blamed ramped-up rhetoric against police…

    AFP
  • US markets drop after bleak Chinese manufacturing report

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stock markets were plunging again Tuesday, continuing Wall Street's month-long rocky ride, after gloomy economic data out of China rekindled fears that the world's second-largest economy is slowing much faster than anticipated.

    Associated Press20 mins ago
  • With help, small island states ditch diesel for cheaper, cleaner energy

    By Megan Rowling BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - After oil prices hit a record high in July 2008, the tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands was forced to declare an economic emergency since around 90 percent of its energy needs were met by imported petroleum products. The fuel price…

    Reuters
  • Big guns in east Ukraine fall silent, two more die from wounds in Kiev protests

    Sporadic shelling and shooting, which each side has blamed on the other, had ensured a steadily mounting death toll despite the ceasefire called as part of a peace plan worked out in Minsk, Belarus, in February. More than 6,500 people have been killed since a separatist rebellion erupted there in…

    Reuters
  • Missouri man faces execution for raping, killing 15-year-old

    ST. LOUIS (AP) — An inmate scheduled to be executed Tuesday for killing a 15-year-old Missouri girl has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his punishment, saying the death penalty is unconstitutional.

    Associated Press
  • CERN: Test results show more detail about 'God particle'

    GENEVA (AP) — After three years of scrutinizing the elusive Higgs boson closely, scientists say they've determined that the "God particle" behaves just as predicted.

    Associated Press