Musicians from the four corners of the earth are participating in a new musical project that merges innovation with the fight against cancer. Pioneers For a Cure (www.pioneersforacure.org) is an ongoing effort to unite all nations to reclaim – and revive – the songs of songs with the pioneer spirit by having them recorded by artists who then choose the cancer organization that will benefit from the proceeds of the song downloads, a stellar model of artist-driven grassroots philanthropy.
The first phase is “The Postcard Project: The Songs that Built Israel.” The second phase is already underway; Pioneers For A Cure USA, slated for release in 2010 is a work in progress with songs recorded. A growing roster of artists such as Suzanne Vega, Ben E. King, Matt White, GE Smith, Taylor Barton, Tom Chapin, and Randy Brecker – and others who will soon be announced – have already recorded and more artists are being added as the momentum grows.
The immediate goal of Pioneers For a Cure is to raise $100,000 with song downloads & donations earmarked for cancer research and treatment within the first year of it’s launch. The project inspires micro-philanthropists in a very real way; nearly half of Pioneers For A Cure’s download donation donors increase their donations from the $1.99 minimum to $9.99 or more. To date, 20 cancer organizations have thus far received proceeds from the first round of disbursements sent out the first week of August 2009.
Pioneers For a Cure is produced by saxophonist/composer Rabbi Greg Wall in cooperation with Joodayoh, Inc, a 501(c)3 non-profit arts and education organization whose mission is to cultivate and present genuinely innovative arts projects that promote the trans-denominational, universal values of social justice, kindness and charity.
The first phase of Pioneers For a Cure raises money for cancer research while preserving the lost music of the pioneers. The project involves a unique and creative approach to reviving folk music with a modern edge: recording new versions of songs of each respective nations’ Pioneer era.
Conducting research, Wall found information about how Israel’s music came to be, which included the dissemination of specially commissioned “folksongs” across the planet on postcards printed with the words and music. A few years later a prominent musicologist sent some of the postcards to famous composers, such as Aaron Copeland, Darius Milhaud, and Kurt Weill, hoping these musicians would create original arrangements of the songs to sustain Jewish identity in and beyond the twentieth century. After each Pioneers for a Cure artist agreed to be involved, Wall sent them a song on an e-postcard, rather then a recording. Just like the original recipients nearly a century ago, each musician had to stoke their creative fires.
When someone visits the website www.pioneersforacure.org, makes a donation and downloads a song, the proceeds go to the charity each musician has chosen. Alongside the aforementioned musicians, the list has grown to over 55 artists, including Pharaoh’s Daughter, The Sway Machinery, Rebbe Soul, Grammy Winners Lorin Sklamberg & Frank London & dozens more. Pioneers For a Cure is offering a free download, “Am Yisrael Chai,” (“The People of Israel Live”), with over 40 artists featured mixed by none other than Bob Clearmountain, the well known engineer associated with artists like Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones.
The need to raise money for cancer research could not be more pressing. According to recent statistics, 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, joining the 10 million Americans who have experienced cancer in their lifetimes. This is the intent of Pioneers For a Cure, a unique, artist-driven initiative created to provide funding for cancer research and treatment through a growing group of individuals determined to make a difference in the lives of people with cancer, honor so many lost already, and revive as many pioneer songs as they can for a new generation.