NEWS BLOG (WSAU) This is exploitation that needs to stop immediately.
If you watch Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, you’ll see a musical performance by a children’s choir from Connecticut: the Newtown Music Project. They’ve already performed at a benefit concert, sung the National Anthem at Madison Square Garden, and have released an iTunes single. But most of them are not from Sandy Hook Elementary School, or even from Newtown; they’re from surrounding communities. A New York promoter - Tim Hayes - is handling the group. And the only reason anyone pays more attention to these children singing, as opposed to, say, the 6th grade chorus at your local elementary school, is that this group took the name of a community where an unspeakable tragedy took place. And that is an outrage.
Tim Hayes organizes a music festival in New York City, and runs a company that creates commercials and promotional videos. The music director for this group is Sabrina Post, who runs a private performing arts academy in Connecticut. According to a 2005 newspaper report she lost her job as a music teacher at Newtown High School for bogus expense reports submitted to the school district.
Imagine for a moment that this children’s choir is authentic. It would still be disturbing that eight weeks after a school massacre, students who lived through it are touring the country giving performances. Instead we have adult opportunists manipulating tragic circumstances.
Please note, the Newtown Music Project that I write about is different that the group that performed with Jennifer Hudson during the Super Bowl pregame show. They indeed were students from Sandy Hook Elementary School, and their travel expenses for that one-time-only appearance was paid for by an anonymous donor. And I’m uneasy about that, too. Can a grade-schooler possibly comprehend this? How, when they’re older, will they process that their young friends were blown away in November, and in February they were on national TV at the year's biggest football game. Imagine the complicated emotions as their thoughts mature from the child-mind thinking that good things come from bad things. Yet that's the message thekids are getting from the actions of the adults in the music and entertainment industry who have surrounded them.
Nothing good comes from the killing of 20 young children. Nothing. These kids need space and time and quiet – not whirlwind celebrity. What’s happening here is disgusting. I’m supposed to feel uplifted by children’s’ voices raised in song. Instead, I’m sad and angry.
The Washington Post reported on the Newtown Music Project:
And here’s the 2005 newspaper article about the group’s music director Sabrina Post: