Iâ€™m in the process of writing my first column for the Morning Call in almost a year. The topic will be the stress our military is under due to so many multiple deployments and how the new Veteranâ€™s Sanctuary, opening this fall in Allentown, is a much needed resource. The story will appear on Memorial Day.
As part of my research for the article, I attending a benefit concert held in the partially restored building that will house the Sanctuary. Standing in the auditorium of the former St. Johnâ€™s Lutheran School on 5th St., the more than the one hundred people and I that were in the audience, were carried back in time not only by our surroundings, but by another local treasure, singer and songwriter Anne Hills.
What a wonderful voice singing so many beautiful songs that spoke to the human condition. There were of course many veterans in the audience, and when Anne sang, â€œYour new companionâ€ about the loneliness of alcoholism, often an early symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, you could have heard a pin drop.
And in a poke-in-the-eye to Billy Joel and his awful song about Allentown, Anne wrote a beautiful ode to all the workers who made the Queen City just thatâ€¦the Queen of the silk mills. â€œSilken Dreamsâ€ tells the story of a retired weaver and her friend who came here as young women from Austria and spent their lives at their looms. â€œOn a hot summer night, you could hear those looms; they never shut them down. Weaving and spinning the silken dreams of the workers in Allentownâ€.
Itâ€™s no wonder Tom Paxton, Anne Hillsâ€™ friend, fellow songwriter, and folk legend, said the following about her..
â€œAnne Hills is such an exquisite singer that itâ€™s understandable that people might be swept up in the pure beauty of her voice and thereby overlook her writing. That would be a mistake. For me, Anneâ€™s writing, in songs like â€˜Follow That Roadâ€™ and many others, is as direct, melodic and deep as any work being done today. She is quite simply one of my absolute favorite songwriters.â€
â€” Tom Paxton
Anne, who volunteered to entertain at the benefit, lives in Bethlehem with her husband and daughter. Her career takes her around the country, but she does occasionally appear locally. Her concert dates are listed on her website.
It was a very special afternoon filled with beautiful music and heartfelt sentimentsâ€¦all for a very good cause. If you believe that our Veterans deserve your support, please consider donating to the Veteranâ€™s Sanctuary.
Bloggerâ€™s Note: My thanks to Christopher Scappaticci for the generous use of his photographs. I tried to download Anneâ€™s song, â€œSilken Dreamsâ€ to accompany this post, but being the techno wizard that I am, I couldnâ€™t figure out how to do it. Thereâ€™s a beautiful version on Rhapsody.