Q&A with Songs for Sandy Artist Christina Li


Christina was the first artist to step up for the S4S project - and boy, we were happy to have her! Check out her new video, Disappear, and you'll agree.


And now - the Q&A!

Who/what are your musical inspirations?

I get inspired by other people with true passions – even or especially non-musical ones. My friends
and family inspire me daily with their own talents.

What gives you hope about the world?

Small, unselfish acts of kindness.

Do you write and sing from joy and hope - or from fear/ anxiety/ need?

Probably from fear/anxiety/need. My music comes from an emotional place that I don't often show to people, so performing and singing is a much needed catharsis.

What’s your favorite chord?

Bb minor

Q&A with Songs 4 Sandy Artist Mario Moita

We connected with Fado-artist Mario through WOMEX, the World Music Expo. Though Mario is from Portugal, and was on tour in Brazil, he wanted to do his part to help Sandy victims - going so far as to include the sounds of Brazilian waves on his song!

It's clear Mario has a huge heart - and from the insights we get below, tremendous faith as well. What a gem!


Who/what are your musical inspirations? Love, peace

What gives you hope about the world? Hope in god

What causes do you support – in your heart and/or with your actions? All I can, in my town and in the world, always, when I can.

What fills you with great joy? A smile.

What breaks your heart? Bad persons who complicate my life...

Do you write and sing from joy and hope - or from fear/ anxiety/ need? Always for joy and hope.

What gets you out of bed in the morning? Travel with a flight very early

What was your biggest setback, and how did you overcome it? In 2001 I lost 20.000 euros with a producer. I overcame that with hope in life. In 2012,  a Brazilian producer took me to court just to get my money. Again, faith in God always guided me thru the road of life.

Do you meditate? Yes. And pray.

What’s your favorite chord? C.  Because in life the most simple sings are the most beautiful.

What word or phrase do you overuse in your lyrics? “My love”

What are you most proud of about yourself? Respect for everyone, and have many friends that love me around the world. not having debts and sleep soundly!

What’s your favorite food? Portuguese alentejo coriander soap



Q&Q with Songs for Sandy Artist Maddy Rodriguez

It's hard to believe that Maddy Rodriguez is only 18. Her vocal and songwriting maturity are such that she was named the youngest winner ever in the US-based International Acoustic Music Awards Competition. Learn more about the Ontario, Canada-based singer-songwriter, what gets her out of bed in the morning and what breaks her heart (hint: one of these items starts with "b").


Why do you write?

Because I have to. Everybody has their own way of expressing what's inside of them. For me, it's writing. 

Who/what are your musical inspirations?

Life, love, pain, people. And great artists like James Taylor, Elton John, Zac Brown, Taylor Swift and Shania Twain.

What gives you hope about the world?

Good people.

What causes do you support – in your heart and/or with your actions?

The Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto (since I was a kid - I used to make crafts and sell them to raise funds for them) Ability Online - it's a wonderful organization. They created something like a Facebook social network for kids and young people with disabilities and some health conditions.

Free The Children - I went to a presentation by the Kielburger brothers and they do awesome work. I recently performed at an event for my university's Free The Children chapter.

What fills you with great joy?

Christmas. When I finish a song. Even more when I record it. And family & friends.

What breaks your heart?

Boys. Hahah! And sometimes the music business. It can be a brutal pursuit. But mostly, seeing children suffer.

Do you write and sing from joy and hope - or from fear/ anxiety/ need?


What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The idea that "today" is full of possibilities.

What was your biggest setback, and how did you overcome it?

In my eyes, I didn't do very well at my very first important performance. I was 15 and I wasn't ready. I felt I let myself and everyone who believed in me down. But I realized I had 2 choices: work harder or give up. I chose to keep going and work hard, and here I am. I still struggle with nerves but I am much more confident than I used to be... It gets better everyday.

Do you meditate?

Not really. But I pray sometimes at night. I hope that one day I'll be more in touch with my spiritual side. For now, I'm to restless to sit and be still. Lol.

What word or phrase do you overuse in your lyrics?

Nothing comes to mind, really. I always obsess about my lyrics and make sure that I use a wide variety of words & phrases - sometimes it takes me days to get a verse right.

What are you most proud of about yourself?

Besides my songwriting talent, which I'm very proud of, I'd have to say I'm most proud of my strength and my ability to laugh at the disappointments in life.

What’s your favorite food?

This is the toughest question. Cheese. or mushrooms. or mashed potatos. or chocolate. KETTLE CORN.... I can't decide, haha.


Q&A with Songs for Sandy Artists - Gene and Kim

This is the first in a series of Fast and Fun Interviews we're doing with our first artists in the Songs for Sandy initiative - so you all can get a little insight into what makes them creatively "tick." Caution: this interview might make you hungry!

Gene Ellsworth has been fine-tuning his songwriting craft in Pittsburgh, Nashville, and California since 1985. He’s had several number one hits, including "The Fool" (Lee Ann Womack) and "All Aboard" (the Del McCurry Band). He met Kimberly Manns in Pittsburgh through yoga, and together they plan to produce and release an Indy Folk CD in 2013.

Why do you write?

Kim: Well, I don’t think Gene has much a choice… it just comes out. Of course, then he spends chunks of time fine-tuning and tweaking. Gene encouraged me to work with him and found out how fun the process can be...even when he disagrees with me.  I love the journey and sharing something we’ve completed.

Gene: I don't have the words for why, but I love the feeling of not knowing where a lyric or melody came from...like magic it's just there.

What fills you with great joy?

Kim: The sunset, the sunrise, watching the sky.

Gene: Being on a bike ride with Kim.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Kim: I get out of bed because I’m tired of being there. I am a doer.

Gene: I like to stay in bed and vegetate...you know, I'm a vegetarian. (editor's comment: ha ha)

Do you meditate?

Kim: Meditation Is the best part of my yoga practice.

Gene: Yes, meditation reminds me again and again of who I really am.

What’s your favorite food?

Kim:  Popcorn made with coconut oil and a little garlic salt.    

Gene: I shouldn't but I love sweets...cake, pie, candy, cookies...yeah.

How much money will really go the Red Cross?

Just read an article in the NY Times from 12/2/12 that addressed the issue of how much of that money raised for charity really goes to the charity.

I certainly wonder that myself when I give - so thought I should address it for our Songs for Sandy initiative.

First of all, I chose the Red Cross to partner with because its spends 92% of its money on programs, not administrative expenses, fundraising etc (according to Charity Navigator). It is also doing an amazing job for Sandy victims. 

Second of all, our numbers.

We are selling five songs for $5 - so $1/each. From that, we pay the artists who choose to receive royalties 18 cents - 9 cents for the use of the recording, 9 cents for the use of the intellectual property of the song itself. 2 of the 5 songwriting teams elected to donate their royalties.

Paypal takes 6 cents per unit. 

Hope Sings is taking zero for admin, overhead - nothing.

So here's the math:

$1.00 - paypal = $.94

$.94 - royalties = $.76 net per song 

2 songs w/no royalties - $.94 x 2 = $1.88

3 songs w/royalties - $.76 x 3 = $2.28

total net proceeds of a five song package (with minimum $5.00 payment) = $4.16

Hope Sings MATCHES that - so your $5.00 purchase results in a donation of $8.32 to the Red Cross.

PLUS you help emerging singer-songwriters AND get five fun songs to boot.

Not bad (we think).

What do YOU think?

Songs for Sandy in the Huffington Post

Getting the word out far and wide - the Huffington Post picked up our blog about the Songs for Sandy initiative. And it's really cool how other folks who are using music to help have chimed in - Jody Rosen, Jessi Mason and others, compilations and concerts and downloads (oh my). In the spirit of all pulling together, below is info for their efforts! We are all in this together.

Download info here http://t.co/cqfZJHii

Benefit info here

Compilation info here http://t.co/8XPikgLD (with a song from Ringo Starr!)

Playlist here http://t.co/ASkoHoqM


Deadline extended until Monday Nov 19 for Songs for Sandy

We know 10 days is really tight turnaround to generate a song - so we've extended the deadline until Monday for submissions. See the earlier blog below for details.

It's likely we'll be partnering with Indiegogo's campaign to help the Red Cross - resulting in more exposure and impact for everyone. Stay tuned for details.

It's been two weeks since the hurricane - and unfortunately, now is when disasters fall off the front page. But people are still suffering. They still need attention, emotional support and financial assistance. It's not too late to do your share. Thanks so much for putting your talents to great use!


Write a Song for Sandy!


That’s what many people are saying the in the wake of devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Here’s what you can do:

Put your talents to very good use and WRITE A SONG to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Hope Sings is inviting original songs inspired by stories of Sandy. We will promote and sell those songs, and WE WILL MATCH – dollar for dollar – ALL SALES generated.

Here are the guidelines:

1)            Let true stories inspire you. Harness the power and magic of universal specifics. That’s what we believe in at Hope Sings.

2)            Any style is fine, as long as it has a vocal.

3)            Send it to us recorded in as finished form as possible. You can even send a video, which we’ll post on the Hope Sings youtube channel.  It doesn’t have to be fancy - piano or guitar and vocal is fine. The quality of the song is more important than the perfection of the recording.

4)            You can receive your royalties (at the industry standard rate) or donate them.  If you donate them, Hope Sings will match them.

5)            Money will go to the Red Cross, which Charity Navigator rates among the highest of the charities helping Sandy victims.

6)            Time is of the essence. Sit down and write right now. Get it to us by November 15. Send the lyric and mp3 to bethblatt@hopesings.net