Giving peace a chance: Thanks to the efforts of two committed local activists, local radio stations and home stereos alike will be pumping out a powerful message of love in the wake of the especially hateful transgression on the lives and property of Carla Grayson, Adrienne Neff and their 22-month-old child at their home in Missoula’s South Hills.
The Feb. 8 arson attack and the subsequent outpouring of community support immediately inspired local singer/songwriter Amy Martin to write “Phoenix,” a song that is being released on a limited quantity of CDs this week to raise awareness and funds for Grayson and Neff. Subtitled “Letter to an Arsonist,” the tune was a poignant success when Martin debuted it at the campus rally a week after the attack.
“Phoenix” also struck a chord with Ethel MacDonald, a local activist and member of Missoula Advocates for Human Rights who attended the rally. MacDonald, whom an admiring Martin calls “a total righteous babe...just amazing,” approached Martin after the event with a plan for immediate action.
“I’ve known her for a little while,” Martin told the Indy last week, “She came up to me after the rally and said ‘Amy, we’re going to make that into a single.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I was thinking the same thing,’ and she was like, ‘No! We’re going to do it this week and I’m going to pay for it!’ And I said, ‘Um, OK!’”
MacDonald tells a similar story. The admiration is clearly (and deservedly) mutual.
“I immediately went up and said, we’ve got to get this out where people can hear it,” she concurs. “I didn’t really have any idea how much it would be, but it wasn’t too much and it enabled us to get it done. It’s ready, and I’ve already taken it to most of the radio stations in town.”
Recorded by Rick Kuschel at the Recording Center in Missoula, the first edition of 150 CDs was quickly augmented by a second run of 100. MacDonald and Martin hope to see proceeds quickly surpassing the low initial cost of the single and going toward a relief fund for the victims. Martin plans to send copies to different national organizations concerned with the attack, such as NOW and PRIDE. She’ll also be selling copies of the single on her upcoming tour.
“It’s a great song,” says MacDonald, who likens its message to another of Martin’s original compositions, “Mama God,” written in the aftermath of Sept. 11.“It’s about not reacting violently, and about taking something that is terribly negative and making it positive. I really believe in Amy and her music. I believe that music can make a difference. And this is a song that people should hear, so we’re doing what we can to get it heard as far away as we can and everywhere we can.”
The CD single is for sale for $5 at Rockin Rudy’s, the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center, and the GLBT Community Center. All proceeds above expenses will go toward a relief fund for the arson victims. Call the request line of your favorite radio station and see if they’ll play it, too.