When I asked Tom about using his note as a testimonial, he replied about editing it if needed, due to the personal items injected. I have not done that, because what Tom and his family went through with Katrina is exactly the message we want to get out. It will take a long time to recover from Katrina - and we need to know that recovery is not just a word, but personal stories such as Tom's.
Tom is right about the title "Mississippi is Back", and I had that message reaffirmed by a young gentleman named Jason when I was in Bay St. Louis in May. It was a struggle, but the title remained because it is hoped that for years and years to come this song will always remind folks how the SPIRIT and HOPE of Mississippi rebounded after Katrina had laid down its' various hurts. Our literature about the song explains this along with the backdrop of the Ocean Springs/Biloxi bridge taken 9 months after Katrina and still in total disarray. In spite of that, Mississippi's strong will to survive is there and thriving.
For privacy reasons I have removed the name and email address. If you would like to talk to Tom, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward your request to him to act on at his discretion. I'm sure he would love to hear from you.
The CD arrived today (Wed) and I was anxious to receive it. I can not thank you and the others enough for producing this CD and making it available to us. Apparently you know the "coast" well, and the people as well as the situation here -- based on the wording in the songs. So you know that my time, money etc are very limited. Even though time is limited, I opened the package immediately and read the enclosed pages thoroughly. I then put the CD in the player and listened, following the songs word for word.
It is difficult to express how beautiful and wonderful the music and the words are. What is more important is that they are "realistic" and to the point. In these five songs you have covered so much of the situation here. Speaking as a person was through Camille and Katrina, I can assure you that the words came from someone who cares, and who really connected with the storm and the people of South Mississippi, or what we prefer to call "the coast". Which song do I like the most? It is hard to decide because I like them and relate to them all. Maybe I should be selfish and say that "The Blanket Brigade" is something I relate to the most. I departed "the coast" in mid August and was thousands of miles away. I talked to my daughter Saturday night. She was staying in the Biloxi house she had purchased on August 8th.
Monday morning my son in Atlanta got an urgent call from her on a cell phone which was cut off before she finished. She said that the water was up to her chest and the furniture was swirling around and she was afraid she'd get injured or killed. She was going to try to get out with her 3 cats. I have gone too far already, but the bottom line is that God was sooooo good to us, as with many others. Briefly, she lost house, car and all personal and family belongings. Since then she has received only $2K for her roof, and has been unable to receive any help except to tear out the walls. Not an unusual story. No one understands how difficult it was for me because I was unable to find out her fate until a week later, unable to find out if my rented property and car were OK -- and they were NOT, still unable to rebuild it.
I couldn't get back until November, then difficult to find a place to live. Sorry I told you more than you wanted to know. We have photo books, we have DVD's, and you have found a wonderful way to communicate, and you did it soooooooo well. Every song was important to show reality, feeling, etc. I know I shouldn't wish this on you, but you could write many other songs and make many other CD's about the storm, people etc. At first I was concerned when I read the title "Mississippi is Back". But when I heard the words I knew you understood that it is NOT back, as we usually think of it. Maybe it should have been "Coming" or "Starting" Back. It appears that my daughter and I will not be "back" for MANY years.
I am giving you too much to read, but I must comment on the "Cover Label" and the insert. The label is so "professional" looking, and tells a story. Beautiful. And the two sheet insert is wonderful. The photo's and the drawings are great. The way you explained the idea for the CD, explained the background of each song, and put in all the words is great. (Oh, I must say that the way you worded the "HOLD ON" song was so good. That story is one of MANY stories of the storm. Maybe someone should write them in book form, if not music).
I tell it the way I see it, and I don't have time now, but some day I may point out the one or two errors in printing. ;-) Again, thanks and a big "Mahalo" (as they say in HI) for your work.
Sorry, but must commend you on your phonetic pronunciation of the cities. Great. I moved here in 1949, just after "the hurricane of 1947" (No names then) and have been through many since then including Camille. Can't thank you and your group enough for your help while here, and your continued interest in helping. ********************
Alan: And after I asked Tom if I could use his testimonial.....
I am happy you received my response to receiving and listening to the CD. I have not had time to go to the site, but will ASAP. I am aware that you wrote or cowrote the songs and that songs were performed by Novak and Renn. It was a good team effort, based on the results. I always try to be objective. I didn't make many recommendations for improvement. Yes, the FEMA song was excellent. I have heard several versions and this is better than any I have heard. I would love to hear, or at least see the words to song #6. The most impressive thing is that you covered such a broad area of the situation here and covered it so well. You obviously had deep concern for everyone and you worked hard to express the situation and feelings of the citizedns of the coast.
I plan to order more copies of the CD as gifts. Of course, you may use my words for a testimonial. You should edit them, because as in this email, I just jot down thoughts as I think of them and do tend to ramble on, and insert personal and family situations in the email. Hopefully I can get to see you and your friends/family when you get here later in the month, or at least get to talk to you. The residents of the AFRH (Armed Forces Retirement Home) in Gulfport plan to have a get together at the Coliseum, I believe on the 29th. Several hundred were moved to the DC facility, while hundreds more scattered all over the country. There has been no activity to replace the Gulfport facility as of this time.