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Performers helping Joplin

(photo by Randy Stewart)

(Starts with a montage of voices)

--I came back to the guys in the band and just said, “We’ve got to do something”

--Okay, we’ve got to do something—what would be the best thing to do?

--Everybody is stepping up to do something.  It’s just natural to bring music and joy to people, to help lift spirits.

--My brother was in Joplin the night of the storms, so it’s kind of a little bit personal to me, and that’s why I’m here—to help out in any way I can.

--Being a musician, I couldn’t say no.

RANDY: When the devastating EF-5 tornado plowed through Joplin, Missouri on May 22nd, it seems like everyone who heard the news had the same reaction: “Oh my God, what can we do to help?”  Raising money is often the best way to assist following a natural disaster, and musicians and performers all over the Ozarks have sprung into action, doing what they do best: performing. You’ll hear some of them this morning.

(Human Anyway’s song “Dear Child” fades up) “Dear child: I love you.  You are so special to me.  I’m here for you….”

RANDY: Zac Rantz is the front man for local Christian rock band “Human Anyway.”  His day job is as Communication Coordinator for Nixa Public Schools.  The day after the tornado the Joplin School System called Nixa School Superintendent Dr. Stephen Kleinsmith asking for assistance.  Zac Rantz was one of the employees he sent to Joplin, to help run communications for them.  Like everyone who’s been there and seen the devastation, Zac was overwhelmed.

ZAC RANTZ: It was just amazing, to see what kind of destruction can go through in just a few seconds.

RANDY: One of the songs on Human Anyway’s first album, released last year, is “Dear Child,” which is playing in the background right now—a song Zac Rantz describes as “a love letter from God to his children.”

ZAC: After being over there in Joplin for a week, and just feeling helpless that you couldn’t do more… and so I came back to the guys in the band and just said, “We’ve got to do something.  Can we do something?  Can we put out one of our songs?”  And then we all came together and said, “Dear Child” is the one.  It was just like, “This is the one!”  We all wanted to give back to our community and to our area, and just help out any way we could.

RANDY: What they’ve done is make the song “Dear Child” available on ITunes and CD Baby, with all proceeds from downloads going to “Bright Futures,” a Joplin Public School organization designed to meet the emotional and psychological needs of Joplin students in both the short term and the long term following the tornado. Again, you can find “Dear Child” on ITunes and at www.cdbaby.com.

(Song fades up) “…Here I am, next to you…” (fades)

RANDY: Someone with an even closer connection to the Joplin schools is Eric Eichenberger, the choral director at Joplin High School, which was demolished in the tornado, as well as losing hundreds of musical instruments and many years’ accumulation of sheet music and scores.  Eric and his wife Cara live in the Springfield area and attend Westminster Presbyterian Church here.

ERIC EICHENBERGER: Because I was removed from the situation, I felt like I didn’t really know how to help.  I went over to volunteer, and they weren’t able to use me.

RANDY: Then Eric’s wife Cara had a sudden inspiration.

CARA EICHENBERGER: I said, “Eric, those are not the talents that God gave us. What God gave us are the talents to do a show.  And if you want to help, that’s how we should help.” And so that’s what we did—and we called all of our friends, and within 24 hours we had a show up and running.

RANDY: The result was “Songs for Joplin,” a benefit concert performed at the Gillioz Theatre on June 4th, involving Eric and Cara’s musician friends from Westminster, Missouri State University… and Eric’s own Joplin High School students.

(Song “For Just a Little While” by Joplin High School Choir fades up) “For just a little while we were here together… for just a little while we were side by side…” (fades)

RANDY: At the rehearsal that afternoon, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the Joplin high schoolers sang “For Just A Little While”… and you can bet there weren’t at the concert that night, either, which raised $5800 for the Joplin High School Music Department and the Red Cross.  In an email Erich Eichenberger told me they were “thrilled” with that amount.  (Joplin HS choir fades)

DINO KARTSONAKIS: …Thousands lost everything.  I’m Dino Kartsonakis—all you have to do is call.

JIM STAFFORD: …This is Shea Stafford and Phantom of the Opera!” (applause, music fades under)

RANDY: Sunday June 26th, the Branson Theatre Owners Association produced a nationwide telethon, “Branson Cares for Joplin,” live from the Mansion Theatre, with proceeds going to St. John’s Mercy Hospital and to the Joplin Schools music program.  As of yesterday (Tuesday June 28, 2011), their website www.joplinbenefit.com, reported over $220,000 had been raised.  Two original songs from the telethon can be downloaded for purchase from www.joplinbenefit.com to help raise more money.   While some of the relief efforts mentioned this morning have already taken place, others like “Branson Cares” are ongoing, and there will be many more to come.  Be with us this afternoon at 4:30 to hear what’s being done for artists in Joplin. For KSMU, I’m Randy Stewart.

JIM STAFFORD (fades up): … Remember, you can still give.  You can still give. If you’re listening out there, it’s not too late to pick up that phone.  All you’ve got to do is call.


CARRIE APRIL TILLIS: All you’ve got to do is call… (fades out)