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Concert gives voice to grief

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Cindy Bullens (click for larger version)
July 22, 2009
STURBRIDGE — Two-time Grammy Award nominee Cindy Bullens will make a visit to Sturbridge this fall, sharing her heartfelt songs with a very special audience.

The Sept. 12 concert will be held at the St. Anne's Shrine on Church Street in Fiskdale, the site of the Angel of Hope Memorial Garden.

Dedicated in September 2007, the Angel of Hope is one of approximately 100 statues throughout the country, inspired by Richard Paul Evans' storybook "The Christmas Box," that serves as a permanent memorial to deceased children.

Bullens will be performing songs from her 1999 release, "Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth," which was entirely written for her daughter Jessie, who died of cancer in 1996.

Local chapter leader of Bereaved Parents of the United States, Sylvia Gaumond, said that while the concert is completely open to the public, Bullens' songs will strike a very particular chord with parents who have experienced such a loss.

"As we all try to find some outlet when you lose a child, she went into her music," Gaumond said. "She tried to confront the pain and loss of her child."

"When you hear the words in her music, you can connect with it," said Gaumond, who herself has experienced the loss of a child. "I think it gives [parents] another understanding of their own loss, it actually helps them to seek some comfort and hope It kind of encourages you, that there is hope."

Gaumond explained that the show was scheduled to coincide with the two-year anniversary of the Angel of Hope's dedication. Every year, she said, a remembrance will be held in September at the memorial garden.

"Our Angel of Hope was dedicated in 2007, on Sept. 15 and what we're trying to do every year is to hold an event for the new people who have memorial bricks, to give them something special to do so they can honor and remember their child," she said.

Following the concert, flowers will be handed out to all the bereaved parents in the audience, who can then lay the flowers on the specific brick in the garden that bears the name of their lost child.

Gaumond said bricks may still be purchased in time for the September concert if by Saturday, Aug. 1. To purchase a brick for the memorial garden, visit www.theangelofhope.org.

Gaumond encouraging people to come and visit the garden, said, "It's just so comforting and peaceful there."

A fan of Bullens' music, Gaumond also encourages people to come to the concert, which costs $5.

"I've seen her in person, and she is really outstanding," Gaumond said. "Through the years, she has really sung with some pretty powerful musicians."

Bullens first made a name for herself on the music scene as a backup singer for Elton John in the 1970s. At the end of that decade, Bullens received two Grammy nominations for her vocals on the "Grease" movie soundtrack, and for best rock vocal performance for her song "Survivor."

Over her 30-plus years in the music industry, Bullens has played with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle and has penned songs for Sarah Brown and the Dixie Chicks.

Gaumond said she looks forward to spending the evening with people who can all share in the emotional power of Bullens' lyrics and pay tribute to their children with the gift of good music.

"Because as we all say, our life is new normal," Gaumond said. "It never is the same again."

News staff writer Christopher Tanguay may be reached at (508) 909-4132, or by e-mail at ctanguay@stonebridgepress.com.

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