Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
October 22, 2001
Song honours the innocent
Musician's anger at terrorist attack turns to desire to do something positive
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
ROSEBUD — Rage was the first emotion that Alberta Catholic musician Lewis Frere felt after hearing about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"I remember almost cursing at the top of my lungs," says Frere, who was returning to his home in Rosebud after attending the Canadian Country Music Awards in Calgary the previous night.
"I knew they had started something big," he said in an interview.
His rage turned to sadness as he thought about the ramifications.
Then he began to pray. As he prayed, he wrote his thoughts on scraps of paper and on his Palm Pilot.
Four of those miniature prayers became a song, God Bless the Innocent, a simple inspirational ballad that exquisitely captures what's on the hearts and minds of many people of faith across the continent and around the world.
A universal song, Frere created a web site for it - www.Godblesstheinnocent.com - which features a peace dove fashioned from human faces and a dedication to the victims of the attack.
Then he posted the song on the MP3.com web site with the hopes that the plaintive song will catch on across the continent and around the world.
He's sent out hundreds of e-mails about the song, including letters to U.S. President George W. Bush and talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Although there's been no response from the White House, he's received considerable feedback from strangers across North America, including one from the Bahamas.
"I have never been so driven," says the 31-year-old performing artist. "I know I'm driven because this is God's project; this is God's song. I know there are thousands who have the message on their computer."
Thus far, since putting it on the Internet on Sept. 20, the song has received airtime on several radio stations, including CBC and Country 105.
Every time someone listens to it on the MP3 site, a half a cent is donated to the American Red Cross through the site's "pay back for play back" initiative. Thus far, it's received more than 2,000 hits.
"It's so important that people turn to God at times like this," say Frere, who grew up in a musical family on a farm near Trochu.
Frere's mother, Lorene, has played the organ in St. Anne of the Prairies Catholic Church in Trochu for 40 years.
As Frere grew older, he played trumpet and saxophone in family and school bands. Eventually he studied music at Red Deer College and in 1993 enrolled in the Rosebud School of the Arts.
There he helped start Rosebud Creek Records, a recording studio where he works today as a sound engineer.
At the same time, he plays in the Rosebud Dinner Theatre, making the rounds serenading tables during dinner, and then performing in some of the music theatre productions.
Early on he became friends with another Rosebud musician, Royal Sproule. They began performing together as Lewis and Royal.
In 1998, they released their first CD, Ambersand, a collection of rural prairie ballads and stories. The Ambersand or "&" sign reflects their musical relationship - two friends getting together to perform their own works and inspire each other.
Their country rock music is a combination of vocal harmonies, offbeat humour and storytelling songs. On the CD, both do vocals and guitar. Frere plays harmonica, nose flute and bongos while Sproule plays banjo, tin whistle and mandolin.
Thus far, they've sold more than 6,000 copies.
The Sept. 11 song isn't Frere's first to focus on innocent victims. Ambersand features a Frere song entitled Dear Mother. It's about an unborn child who writes a letter to its mother. The song's ending contains a harsh twist. The mother aborted the baby.
"I've really had a strong response from this song," he says. "If a woman is sitting on the edge of aborting her child, I really believe it could change her mind." In fact, Frere believes it has saved the lives of innocent babies.
These days, Frere tells people he is a Catholic but regards himself as a member of "the Christian Church." In Rosebud he attends The Rosebud Church, a Covenant congregation, while during his frequent visits home, Frere goes with his family to St. Anne's.
God Bless the Innocent combines his faith and musical talent. His songwriting talents provided a place to express his feelings about the September tragedies while his faith fortified his convictions about how people need to respond.
The song asks questions about how the world would respond to Sept. 11. Will it turn to God or turn away? Will it wage war or peace?
"We're praying that Your love will see us through/ Praying that our hearts will turn to You," he sings. "We're praying for the wisdom that's Heaven sent,/And God bless the innocent."
Says Frere: "I believe God has me on this planet to share inspirational music with people."
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