Los Lonely Boys teamed up with Austin-based Community Tech-Knowledge for their “Heart and Soul” grant to develop a song for one deserving non-profit organization, as you read this summer in “LLB team up with CTK for the Heart and Soul Grant”.
“Solid Ground,” is a tribute to the Family Justice Center of Erie County, an organization that provides services for victims of domestic violence. A song of hope, the lyrics to the soulful but upbeat tune were chosen from among roughly 750 contest entries.
My spirit is unbroken, though my body bears a scar.
Sometimes, I swear I doubted I would ever get this far.
The poem was one the band could identify with, said Jim Tulio, who produced the song and served as one of the contest judges.
“The sentiment of it, I think, their music and their lyrics have a very similar vibe in terms of hope,” he said. “And I think they feel the same things. They’ve been through a lot of hardships in their lives. I think they can really relate to this.”
The song’s local unveiling will take place Tuesday in front of some donors and other friends of the Family Justice Center at the American Red Cross headquarters on Delaware Avenue.
The center’s involvement is the end result of the 2009 Heart and Soul Grant Award Program, developed by the Texas-based CTK Foundation. The foundation sent out a nationwide call for entries to nonprofit agencies, asking them to send in a four-to-eight line poem about the mission of their organization.
The winner would have their song produced by Los Lonely Boys and be accompanied by a $10,000 grant. Of the hundreds of entries, one poem was chosen by a Grammy-award winning panel of judges.
Nancy Ghoston, a quality assurance coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Western New York, e-mailed the agency her poem after reading an e-mail soliciting poems from friends of the organization.
Ghoston, who hasn’t written much poetry since high school, said she was inspired to write this one because of family and friends she cared about who never had a place like the Family Justice Center to turn to when they were victims of abuse.
The Kenmore woman went on a tour of the center at 237 Main St. earlier in the year and was astonished at how warm and welcoming the facility is, she said.
A huge mural lines the entry hall and inside, the secure center projects a comfortable, home-like environment, complete with four cozy “living rooms” where victims and their families can meet with law enforcement and social services personnel and other victim advocates. There’s even a space for children, filled with toys and books, rivaling any day care center.
On the double doors leading into the main area, beneath the name of the agency, reads a single sentence: “You’re safe here.”
“What it would be like to walk through those doors and be greeted in that way, and just feel like it was a very safe place to be,” said Ghoston, who dwelled on the thought when she wrote her poem. “So many social services agencies are poorly funded, they’re on a shoe string, and they’re kind of depressing no matter how kind the staff is. I was just astounded, I really was.”
While Ghoston declined to fly to Texas for the premiere of the song on Saturday at the Austin Museum of Art, Linda Ray, executive director of the Family Justice Center, did go with another agency volunteer.
When Ray first heard Los Lonely Boys play the song at the live event, she cried.
“The words are so sweet,” she said. “When I was listening to it, I could picture the women in our waiting room.”
The song will be played at every Family Justice Center event and shared with the roughly 50 Family Justice Centers that now exist coast to coast, Ray said. The $10,000 will go toward helping to market the agency, which has very few dollars to spend on such priorities, she said.
Los Lonely Boys had originally created the song as a do-good effort, with no plans to launch it as a single. However, Ray said, the band ended up liking the song so much that the three brothers are considering marketing the song nationwide.
One of the band members, Henry Garza, said the song was “a way to express our music through someone else’s feelings and show what song and music is about, somebody’s tragic life experience put down on paper. It’s a beautiful thing to be part of that. And for us to be a part of that and to bring this woman’s poem to life with the song, it’s just an honor.”
Read the inspirational story about the woman behind the lyrics and see behind the scenes footage of the recording here.