Bluegrassers give a Boost to Hurricane Relief Efforts

Three prominent bluegrassers are taking part in a remarkable genre-crossing musical pitch to raise money for victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

John Cowan, Darin Aldridge and Brooke Aldridge are part of an all-star cast of musicians – including bluesman Keb Mo and John Oates of Hall and Oates fame – performing on All Come Together, written by country artist John Berry and hit writer Chuck Jones.

The song — recorded in the fashion of We Are The World, with each artist singing a line and everyone joining on the chorus — is designed to encourage donations to Samaritan’s Purse for flood recovery efforts. Digital downloads of the song will be available next week, but the music video is out today and the artists are using social media to raise awareness and encouraging fans to open their hearts and the wallets.

You can watch the song video here:

And make donations here:

The song came about through a combination of bad luck and fortuitous timing. The bad luck was Hurricane Harvey. Berry, starting to pull together material for a pair of albums that will mark his 25th anniversary on a major label next year, had a writing session with Jones, who has penned a string of country hits. As they were getting ready to write one Monday, they watched the devastation on TV.

No matter what’s planned, songwriters are advised to “write the song in the room.” That’s just what happened. Berry recalled Jones saying, “I don’t know what you were planning to write today, but we have to write this.” Soon after they started, Berry’s wife, Robin, texted him and wondered what they could do to help. Berry responded by sending her a verse and chorus of the song-in-progress.

Brian Smith, who represents Berry and the Aldridges, among many other artists, remembers when he first heard the work tape and Berry’s idea for recording it. “I’m standing in the bread aisle at Kroger and I almost lost my mind,” he recalled.

Berry and Jones wrote the song on a Monday. On Wednesday they were in the studio. Work wrapped up last Friday.

Smith wanted Brooke and Darin to be on the song, but he didn’t want to come across as pushy. He didn’t have to worry. Berry called and said, “I want Darin and Brooke on this thing, and I want Cowan.”

The bluegrassers, as you might imagine, were thrilled to join the effort.

“We can ALL make a difference in the lives of others,” Brooke and Darin said in a statement. “It’s that willingness to step forward and encourage everyone around you to come together and make it happen. It was such an honor to be a part of this awesome song to uplift and inspire those affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.”

Cowan, who plays with the Aldridges but is currently on tour with his other band, the Doobie Brothers, remembers hearing a hurricane victim who lost his house and rescued a neighbor say on the radio “that he used to wonder what we were all here for and that now he knew…that ‘we’re here for each other.’ That is simply what this entire endeavor is for and about. I feel humbled and blessed to be of service.”

Berry said he depended on Smith and his contacts to help. “My world is small. I have to give a tip of the hat to Brian because he knows so many people. It’s an eclectic group, just like our planet is an eclectic group of people,” he said.

One part of that eclectic group that Smith brought in closes the circle from We Are the World to All Come Together. John Oates was part of the We Are the World ensemble. And he sings the last line on All Come Together.

One final observation, in case someone out there is thinking Berry is using this project to bring attention to his career: Don’t go there.

This week, Berry and his wife are supposed to be at the beach, relaxing. Instead, they’re sleeping on the band bus in a suburban Houston parking lot while they help families displaced by the devastating floods.

“It was astonishing to drive down the street and see people’s lives on the curb,” he told me the other day. “Water just ruins everything. It has no conscience.”

Fortunately, musicians like Berry, Cowan, Darin and Brooke do have a conscience. It’s beautiful to watch and hear them All Come Together.

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.