Raising A Hand is a three-plus year labor of love, dedicated to one in 10,000 girls born with Rett syndrome. I was fortunate enough to be lead writer, and co-editor along with Mary Chavoustie, for the project. It was, without a doubt, the most rewarding— and in many ways heartbreaking— experience I've had in many years.
I became an advocate in the fight against Rett syndrome after meeting and working with photographer Dave Clements (brainchild for the project) and photographer/singer/songwriter Kevin Black, brother to Clint Black. Kevin lost his daughter Cortney at the age of 16 to the devastating neurological disorder.
Dave decided to publish a black and white coffee table book of photos of over 200 top entertainers in the music business, with the proceeds going to fund Rett research and promote awareness. Each artist is shown raising their hand during their performance to suggest that they are "raising a hand" for Rett.
During the long process, I had the privilege of writing the bulk of the text, with writing contributors Sue Geiger, Mary Chavoustie and several others. It was a project that truly "took a village."
It's important to note that the work done by this group was volunteer. I, along with the other writers, took no money for/from the project. And we wouldn't have had it any other way...
I interviewed several artists including Lorrie Moran, Tony Arata who wrote Garth's "The Dance," Clint Black, Ruthie Foster, The Byrds Chris Hillman, Janis Ian ("At Seventeen"), Delbert McClinton, Willie's daughter Paula Nelson, Gary Puckett, Sawyer Brown, and the list goes on. Many of the bios were attained by working directly with their managers and/or publicists (Bob Seeger, Paul McCartney, Eagles' members, etc.) Kris Kristofferson's wife was kind enough to grant me permission to use the lyrics to "Hall of Angels" for inclusion in the book, All photos in the book were used with permission of the artist.
For me, without a doubt, the most important interviews are those of the families of the girls with Rett syndrome. The struggles and challenges they and their families face daily make these Rett warriors the true "stars" of the book.
Raising A Hand is now in its second printing. The girls are still waiting for a cure, but we are getting closer every day... I hope to be able to someday look back and think that I may have played a part— no matter how small— in helping a Silent Angel speak. For more information on Rett syndrome, or to order the book, visit our website.
*Book photo by Kevin Black Photography