On December 14th, 2012, a sick and deranged man opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut. 20 young, innocent, and incredibly precious lives were taken in an instant. Among the victims was 6 year old Ana Marquez-Greene. Ana is the daughter of Saxophone player, Jimmy Greene. Of course my heart immediately breaks when something like this occurs in our world (which is far too often, yet nothing seems to change), but when this tragedy came to someone I was very familiar with thanks to my musical circle, it felt different.
In November of 2014, Jimmy released his spectacular record, "Beautiful Life" in tribute to his beautiful daughter, Ana. He collaborated with some incredible musicians and vocalists on this album, including Kenny Barron, Kurt Elling, and Renee Rosnes. With this recording, Jimmy proves what I always knew to be true, which is the real power and strength that music carries. When you listen to this record, you can hear the message that Jimmy is sending not just to Ana, but to the world. You can feel the strength that was put into the creation of this one of a kind project. The love is undeniable. There is no better tribute that could have been created not only for Ana, but for the other children who lost their lives that day, and the families that are learning how to survive in this world without them. Today, Jimmy's "Beautiful Life" is nominated for TWO Grammy Awards!
I have always been more than proud to be a part of the community and family I am. The Jazz community around the globe has been incredibly kind to me over the years, and the people that I grew up with that came from this incredible circle, are the most supportive and loving family that I could personally ever ask for. This proved to be true once again when the Greene family's tragedy came to light. This is what the world needs. Every single person affected by tragedy needs to know that they are not alone in their pain. I saw Jimmy's record as a message of support for every other victim of the Sandy Hook tragedy, and their families. Through his own pain, he let created something that has brought comfort and peace to countless people. It has been magical to watch.
In an interview with CBC, Jimmy said: "Ana was a little girl who loved life and she loved who she was. She was able to … connect people and be friends with people from many different backgrounds," Greene said. "On the album you see the diversity of musical contributions kind of mirrors that aspect of her life." I feel there is nothing more that needs to be said.
Tonight, I will be cheering Jimmy on in hopes that he will take home the Grammy Awards in *both* categories that he is nominated in. But regardless, I feel it is important that he knows what an impact his creation has had on our world. The message and music is universal. His story? Endlessly powerful. With respect, admiration, and love, I will be wearing my Miss Ana Grace bracelet (as I do every day), and sending positive vibes to the Greene family. Please visit The Ana Grace Project website and Facebook page for more information on the work they are doing. You can get Jimmy Greene's "Beautiful Life" album by clicking HERE, and more information on the Miss Ana Grace bracelet can be found HERE.