Wednesday 17 January 2018

Barry Egan: Black's labour of love

HELPING HAND: Bonnie Raitt sings 'God Only Knows' on new charity CD that will come with
next week's 'Sunday Independent', which is helping Irish star Frances Black's RISE Foundation
HELPING HAND: Bonnie Raitt sings 'God Only Knows' on new charity CD that will come with next week's 'Sunday Independent', which is helping Irish star Frances Black's RISE Foundation
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

'Everybody has experienced the defeat of their lives," Leonard Cohen said a few years ago. "Nobody has a life that worked out the way they wanted it to work out.

"We all begin as the hero of our own dramas, in centre stage, and, inevitably, life moves us out of centre stage, defeats the hero, overturns the plot and the strategy and we're left on the sidelines, wondering why we no longer have a part, or want a part, in the whole damn thing. So everybody's experienced this. When it's presented to us sweetly, the feeling goes from heart to heart and we feel less isolated and we feel part of the great human chain ... "

Mr Cohen -- who has sung a lot about the isolation and the pain in the great human chain -- provides one of the finer songs, If It Be Your Will, on the CD that comes with next Sunday's Sunday Independent. "If it be your will," Cohen sings in that way that only Leonard Cohen can, his voice over brimmed with stoic resignation, "That I speak no more/And my voice be still/As it was before/I will speak no more/I shall abide until/I am spoken for/If it be your will."

The CD is to help create awareness of the RISE Foundation, which was set up by the incomparable Frances Black in 2009 to support families who, as she says, "have loved ones lost to addiction." And Frances Black being Frances Black (she is a great woman; this I know personally because she sang at my dad's funeral three years ago) got a stellar cast of stars to contribute songs to this album which, I think, is more than worthy of your attention.

Bonnie Raitt contributes a beautiful version of Joe Henry's God Only Knows. Emmylou Harris provides the powerful Red Dirt Girl. Janis Ian's I am The One is just as poignant and potent. David Crosby does Columbus John. Steve Earle sings the wonderful God Is God:

"And I believe in miracles.

Something sacred burning in every bush and tree.

We can all learn to sing the songs the angels sing.

Yeah, I believe in God, and God ain't me."

John and Fiona Prine also do heartrending Til A Tear Becomes A Rose. Frances Black herself does a moving If A Kiss Doesn't Make It Right. "Putting this album together has been a labour of love," she told me. "I was absolutely delighted that so many fantastic performers wanted to support the work we do at the RISE Foundation. I was amazed at the level of support we received from everybody but especially from Fiona Whelan Prine and Janis Ian, who were fantastic and really helped me compile the artists.

"When I explained to the artists about the shame and stigma attached to addiction in Ireland and the work we do with the families of people in addiction, they were delighted to be involved."

Asked why she decided to put this compilation together, Frances answers: "To help raise awareness of the important work we are doing and to let people out there know that they are not alone and that there is support available if you have someone that you love who is lost to addiction."

"I personally," the singer added, "love all the tracks on this album.

"When I was thinking about the album at first, I put together a wish list of my favourite artists and set out to contact these and ask for their support. The enthusiasm of the artists took me by surprise as the track listing has multi Grammy Award- winning artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Leonard Cohen, John Prine, Janis Ian, Emmylou Harris, David Crosby and many others. It is a fantastic album." I think you'll agree.

Indeed the indefatigable Ms Black has put together the RISE Benefit Concert in Dublin's Vicar Street on May 20 (which, Frances tells me is part of The RISE Foundation's awareness building and fundraising activities for RISE Week 2012, all the money raised through the RISE Benefit Concert going directly supporting families with loved ones in addiction.

The great John Prine will fly in from his home in Amerikay to headline the show.

Others on the bill include Frances Black, Brian Kennedy, Altan, Paddy Casey, Fiona Prine, Aoife Scott, Roisin O and many others.

Tickets, €25, are available through

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