Thursday, February 25, 2010

George Winston's Guitar Strums Up Support for Homeless Kids

When George Winston comes to Naperville on March 28th, his performance will give a big boost to HEAR US’ efforts to give voice and visibility to homeless families and teens across America. This nonprofit’s new documentary, “On the Edge,” offers a dramatic behind-the-scenes look at shattered relationships, natural disasters, and systemic shortcomings that disintegrate stability for millions of children, teens and families living in homelessness.
George Winston will perform a benefit solo guitar concert on Sunday, March 28, 7:30 p.m., at St. Timothy Lutheran Church, 1313 N Mill Street. Suggested donation is $20, all directed to HEAR US, a Naperville-based nonprofit organization that works to address family and teen homelessness nationwide. People’s Resource Center will also benefit by donations of nonperishable food by the audience. This is Winston’s second such appearance for these organizations.
The current work of HEAR US centers around a powerful documentary on family and teen homelessness, “On the Edge,” (working title) that lets the true experts, those experiencing loss of their homes, share their stories. HEAR US president and founder Diane Nilan, former longtime PADS shelter director at Hesed House, has teamed up with Dr. Laura Vazquez, documentary expert from Northern Illinois University, to film and produce this poignant look at how women cope with the loss of housing and stability.
Since pulling out of Naperville in November 2005, Nilan has been on the road in her RV, now her home and office. She filmed, and Vazquez produced, the nationally-acclaimed documentary series, “My Own Four Walls,” children talking about homelessness and school. “This first film paved the way for ‘On the Edge,’” Nilan states. “The compelling stories of families I met in 2006 needed to be told. Laura’s enthusiastic willingness to spearhead this ambitious project brought it to fruition.” Vazquez took a sabbatical and has spent long hours, collaborating with Nilan, editing this hour-long film.
What remains for “On the Edge” is final tweaking to gain attention for national screening, according to Nilan, who has been showing rough cuts to rave reviews as she’s traveled cross-country since early November. Technical fine-tuning costs money, which HEAR US hopes will materialize because of the concert.
The Nilan-Vazquez video team has another project in the works, a short film depicting the soaring number of homeless babies and toddlers, estimated over 40% of more than 1.5 million homeless children in America. The harm to a child’s health and development greatly impairs chances for a self-sustaining adulthood according to early childhood experts working with HEAR US on this project, including students and staff at Chicago’s Erikson Institute, the nation’s premiere child development institution.
 “Every note that George plays will mean a tremendous amount of support for our efforts and for the well-being of millions of kids,” states the somewhat road-weary Nilan, concerned about the poverty and housing needs of millions of families, including hundreds in affluent DuPage County. “This can be a great way to help others while helping this community.” # # #

Monday, February 22, 2010

George Winston to Play to Help Homeless Kids

Venue Contact: Diane Nilan, 630/267-5424
Artist Contact:  Jennifer Gallacher 831/429-5085 x 215
GEORGE WINSTON to Perform SOLO GUITAR at a Benefit Concert for HEAR US
 on March 28, 2010 at St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Naperville
Tickets Information: 630/225-5012
February 23, 2010—George Winston, best known for his solo piano performances, has announced that he will perform a SOLO GUITAR CONCERT (no piano played during this concert) to benefit the Naperville-based nonprofit organization HEAR US Inc., a national organization that helps homeless children, youth and families.
A food drive to benefit will be held in conjunction with this concert.  The audience is encouraged to bring non-perishable food donations to the show in support of People’s Resource Center in Wheaton.
For many years, George has been studying and recording the masters of the Hawaiian Slack Key guitar, the solo finger-style guitar tradition unique to Hawai’i, which dates back to the early 1800s (and predates the steel guitar by about 60 years).  “I experience such beauty and inspiration in the music of these masters,” says George, producer or co-producer of 36 slack key albums on the Dancing Cat record label.  “When I first heard some of the great Hawaiian slack key guitarists in the early 1970s, such as Keola Beamer, Led Kaapana, Ray Kane, Leonard Kwan, the late Gabby Pahinui, the late Sonny Chillingworth, the late Atta Isaacs and others, I realized right away that my priority was to help make this tradition better known, and ultimately more available to people.”
George’s performance will feature Hawaiian Slack Key as well as traditional American music, including Appalachian fiddle tunes, ragtime, popular standards and more.

So far he has two recordings with solo guitar:

  1. First, the soundtrack for the Japanese story Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. The story was originally produced as a half-hour film directed by George Levenson for his non-profit media organization, Informed Democracy.  He also recorded the solo guitar, piano, and harmonica soundtracks for the Informed Democracy children’s videos Pumpkin Circle, about the cycle of the seasons unfolding in a backyard pumpkin patch, and Bread Comes to Life.

  1. Second, REMEMBRANCE – A MEMORIAL BENEFIT, a 6-song CD of piano, guitar, and harmonica solos.  All artist proceeds from this CD are being donated to benefit those affected by 9/11.

This will be the second concert George has performed for HEAR US. His support enabled this organization to become an influential force helping homeless children and youth across the country. Materials—videos and books—developed and marketed by HEAR US, and Diane Nilan’s presentations, have given homeless children and youth voice and visibility, enabling educators, college students, and the public to hear directly from those affected by homelessness. Greater awareness means increased access to school, according to Nilan, instrumental in improving Illinois and federal legislation to remove barriers to education for the over 1.5 million homeless children in America.

The HEAR US award-winning documentary, My Own Four Walls, (on DVD) has been seen by thousands of adults and children across the country. “Audience reaction is tremendous,” states Diane Nilan, the former director of the PADS homeless shelter at Hesed House in Aurora. “My Own Four Walls and our other videos and books have created more awareness than we can ever calculate. I’m humbled by the courageous kids who agreed to participate in this project, and so deeply grateful for George Winston’s generous support.”
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

George Winston Solo Guitar Concert to Benefit HEAR US

HEAR US Inc. is delighted to announce that musician George Winston will return to Naperville to do another solo guitar concert to benefit HEAR US! His last HEAR US concert was in October 2006.

On Sunday, March 28, 7:30 p.m., at St. Timothy Lutheran Church, 1313 Mills Street in Naperville, George will play half Hawaiian Slack Key guitar music and half Appalachian guitar music.

HEAR US Inc. is a national nonprofit organization that gives voice and visibility to homeless children, youth and families. The HEAR US videos and books foster greater awareness and understanding of the over 1.5 million homeless families and teens, a mostly invisible problem nationwide.

Suggested donations for tickets is $20. They may be obtained through the HEAR US website's donation page. Or mail checks payable to HEAR US (indicate it's for the concert), 1163 E Ogden Ave. 705-329, Naperville, IL 60563. For information, contact Diane Nilan, HEAR US president,, or leave a voice mail message at 630-225-5012.

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