on January 29, 2010 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Music: a powerful healing tool for Haiti

By JESSICA SIBLEY
The Journal

WALHALLA — With more than 150,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands more people displaced, the earthquake that rocked Haiti is continuing to cause havoc.

Numerous benefits have been kicked off nationwide to help with the relief efforts, and now Oconee and other Upstate residents will have the chance to participate in a local relief effort, dubbed “Operation Help Heal Haiti.”

The Walhalla Civic Auditorium (WCA) is hosting a benefit concert, in conjunction with 96.3 WGOG, The Journal, Joyful Noise Entertainment Group, Oconee County Ministerial Association, Oconee Men’s Outreach and various local businesses. All donations and proceeds are going straight to Haiti to help with much-needed aid its for residents and infrastructure rebuilding.

Just a few days after the horrific event, Wayne Morton from 96.3 WGOG was conducting an interview with local singer/songwriter Shawn James and her band.

Shawn James and her band will play a benefit concert for Haiti at the Walhalla Civic Auditorium Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010.

“It just sort of took off after that,” James said. “We wanted to help in any way we could, and the ball just started rolling about a benefit concert.”

When WCA agreed to host the event, James said she and her band wrote a song entitled, “Help Heal Haiti” in just 30 minutes.

“She was so worried that she wouldn’t be able to write a song in time,” said James Amber, band member. “But, in half an hour, it was done.”

Emanating an upbeat reggae flavor, “Help Heal Haiti” encompasses exactly what Shawn James and her band are looking to accomplish.

“We intended to write a song that describes the need, and what our role as Americans needs to be. We want to help them heal,” she said. “We want to take these efforts and localize them.”

James — who describes her music as a fusion of jazz, rock, reggae and adult contemporary — is thrilled to be taking the stage for such a cause.

So far, the new hit has been played at radio venues in North Carolina, Tennessee and Atlanta.

Shawn, who has played at local events such as The Apple Festival and Downtown Go ’Round, will be joined on stage by some special guests whom she said will, “make quite the powerful impression.”

James Amber, pictured, and Bill Koepnick will round out the band with Shawn James during the Help Heal Haiti concert this Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The talented singer also wrote and recorded the song, “I Feel Divine,” (The Carolina Song) for the newly released video; “Experience Oconee.” These will also be available for purchase, with all proceeds going toward the collected aid for Haiti.

In addition, Zion Restaurant will be hosting its own concert benefit at 6 p.m. with musical guests, Shades of Blue.

And, finally, numerous ministries and other special guests will speak about their own experiences in Haiti when the earthquake hit.

“The Journal is proud to join with good folks like Shawn James, Walhalla Civic, the ministry groups and our friends at WGOG to assist with Operation Help Heal Haiti,” Publisher Michael Leonard said. “I am confident Oconee County will once again show itself to be a generous and compassionate community.”

The free concert will run from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 30. Donations will be collected for Haiti.

jsibley@dailyjm.com         | (864) 882-2375