Concert for Lauren
The concept of this album began on New Year's Eve 2009 in Morristown, NJ. After performing at The Community Theater for 'First Night,' we headed across the street with friends and family to climb the majestic tower of St. Peter's Episcopal Church. We embraced one another and passed around bottles of champagne as fireworks lit up the fog, ushering in a new decade. On the way back down, we stopped at the choir balcony and broke into 'I'll Fly Away' at the top of our lungs. As our voices echoed through the dark sanctuary space, I fell in love with the idea of performing in that great room with the band. My cousin Danielle, the St. Peter's youth group leader at the time, helped us conjure up the notion of a musical fundraiser, blending spiritual and traditional songs with our own folk, rock, and blues roots. The church welcomed the idea, and we named the event 'Saturday Night Gospel Gumbo,' as the proceeds would support the youth group's mission trip to Louisiana. We also planned to capture a live recording of the concert, thanks to the generous assistance of sound engineers Derek Vintschger and Lee Bender. One of our dear friends who shared that memorable New Year's Eve with us atop St. Peter's was the beautiful and captivating Lauren Failla, known for her outgoing spirit and 'megawatt' smile. On April 28th, 2010, we received the tragic and shocking news that Lauren had died in a snorkeling accident while on vacation in India - she was only 25 years old. This was a heartbreaking tragedy for family and friends who had also mourned the loss of Lauren's older sister Emily just four years earlier. Lauren and Emily were both bright, exquisite young women who selflessly encouraged and inspired those around them. Rather than cancel the concert, which was only a week away, we were humbled to be asked to perform in honor of Lauren's memory. The evening became a celebration, memorial, and expression of gratitude for her remarkable effect on all of us and our community. Hundreds gathered together to remember Lauren in the same place where she sang in the choir, prayed with her family, and volunteered with the youth group. Her spirit filled the room that night as audience members set aside their grief for a moment to dance and sing in the aisles - just as Lauren would have done! Lauren's friendship is a blessing that we will cherish forever. We will never forget the wonderful times we shared with her, and the moments when we looked past the edge of the stage to see an angel twirling through the audience - shoes off, hair flowing, and arms flying. How lovely she was and how happy she made us! Her kindness and enthusiasm will remain in our hearts always. With much love and respect, Blaire Reinhard Perrin.