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Sandy Hook students, Ingrid Michaelson record benefit single

January 15, 2013|By Randy Lewis
  • Singer Ingrid Michaelson, center, has joined students from Sandy Hook Elementary School to record the benefit single "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
Singer Ingrid Michaelson, center, has joined students from Sandy Hook… (Charles Sykes / Invision…)

Nearly two dozen students who survived the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.,  have joined with indie folk-pop singer Ingrid Michaelson to record a version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as a benefit for the Newtown Youth Academy and the United Way of Western Connecticut.

The single was produced by Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club members Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth and recorded at their home studio in Connecticut.

The song premiered Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and is available at iTunes and Amazon.com and other online sources, credited to the Children of Newtown.

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It opens with Michaelson singing the first verse with plain ukulele accompaniment, then the children join with her and finally the children sing on their own at the end, “If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow then why, oh why, can’t I?”

“To be able to honor those who lost their lives is something I am incredibly humbled by," Michaelson said in a statement issued Tuesday.

The project was conceived by Tim Hayes, new owner of the recently revived New York rock/punk club CBGB, who said in the same statement, “Music has the power to heal both the listener and the performers. The new arrangement of the song feels as if the young angelic adult voice, Ingrid’s, is almost teaching the song to the children... The children were asked to sing the song as if it was a prayer. That emotion really comes though when the children sing their ‘oooos,’ which transforms the recording into something truly spiritual.”

Added Weymouth: “I wish to send my heartfelt thanks to all the wonderful people and kids involved in this beautiful recording -- including those who will buy it online -- for coming together to combat violence with our very best human qualities: compassion and generosity.”

The song was written as “Over the Rainbow” by composer Harold Arlen and lyricist E.Y. “Yip” Harburg and introduced in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.”  The Children of Newtown ukulele arrangement echoes the popular latter-day rendition by Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.

A website for the project has been set up that includes video from the “Good Morning America” appearance and a “making-of” video from the recording session, which also can be seen here:

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Follow Randy Lewis on Twitter: @RandyLewis2 

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