Mont Vernon musician/songwriter Alex Philbrick, who goes by the stage name Alex Preston, has a song featured on a CD compiled to honor victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings and will perform at an August tribute festival in Hartford, Conn. (NANCY BEAN FOSTER/Union Leader Correspondent)
MONT VERNON - Alex Philbrick didn't know anything about Newtown, Conn., when he penned the song "My Best Friend," but when he heard about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, to Philbrick the song took on a whole new meaning.
On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza entered the elementary school in Newtown and opened fire, ultimately killing 20 children and six adults.
"I was in Tennessee with my cousin when I heard about the shooting, and I felt sick," Philbrick, a Mont Vernon resident, said. "I had already written the song, and it just seemed to relate to what the friends of the kids who were killed must have been feeling."
Philbrick, 20, who plays nine instruments including guitar, violin and piano, recorded a video of the song in honor of the victims and posted it online. He immediately started getting positive feedback from people in Newtown and beyond. Then a group called "Voices for Heroes" contacted him and asked to use the song on a compilation CD called "Voices from Around the World."
Voices for Heroes was founded by Denise Labrecque and Evan Betts, whose high school friend lost a child in the Sandy Hook tragedy.
"We couldn't sit here and do nothing, and we heard all of the great music people were writing in memory of the victims, so we decided to put together a CD," said Labrecque.
The first CD, "Connecticut Voices for Heroes," featured songs written exclusively by people in Connecticut, but there was such a huge body of music being written internationally with Sandy Hook in mind that Labrecque and Betts decided to pull together "Voices from Around the World: The Music." Sales of the album will fund the purchase of musical instruments for the Newtown School District, Labrecque said. "I was actually looking for music for the CD when I saw Alex's video on YouTube," said Labrecque. "I love this kid. He's so good."
Philbrick, who uses the stage name Alex Preston, said that being able to contribute something to the memory of the victims of the Newtown tragedy was important to him, especially because it means new instruments for kids in the Newtown community.
"It's human nature to be moved by something like this, especially when kids are involved," said Philbrick. "But I'm a pretty shy person, so I put whatever I'm feeling into music."
Philbrick is writing another song for Voices for Heroes to be played during the organization's Power of Peace Family Fest at Bushnell Park in Hartford, Conn., on Aug. 11. He will perform some of his songs live at the event.
The festival, intended to bring people together in memory of victims of the Sandy Hook shootings, the Boston Marathon bombings and other tragedies, will feature the release of butterflies and doves. Peace activist Carlos Arrendondo - who was at the Boston Marathon when the bombings occurred and helped the victims of the attacks, most notably Jeff Bauman - will be at the festival with his wife, Melida, said Labrecque.
For more information about the festival, go to www.voicesforheroes.com.