The idea grew out of discussions between two U.S. Catholic musicians who wanted to find a way to provide a fundraising opportunity for pro-life groups, and/or their charities, by staging positive, uplifting and life-affirming programs consisting of personal testimonies and music. And so, what is now known as Concerts for Life was born.
Originally given the name Rock for Rachel, co-founders Lynn Geyer and Donna Lee more recently decided to change the name of their ministry, because the variety of music showcased at their events goes beyond the scope of just rock and roll.
Geyer is a Mount Vernon, N.Y.-based musician who has recorded four albums and performed in various countries, including Spain, Italy, Australia, Germany and Brazil. She also runs another organization called ColourBlind Music Ministries.
Lee is based in San Diego, Ca. and has recorded five albums. Among other recognitions, she won first place in the Great American Song Contest in 2001 for her composition I Will Worship You.
“It’s a ministry to raise awareness and money for others,” said Geyer of Concerts for Life. “Donna and I first met at a Catholic Association of Musicians event, it must have been 10 years ago. Over the years, we became friends and did a lot of different things together. One day, Donna said something to the effect of, ‘You know, we really need to start a pro-life ministry.’ One thing led to the next, we brainstormed and came up with the idea.”
The pair wrote out a program detailing how they would go about staging fundraising efforts for pro-life organizations. “We know that pro-life is the least funded of ministries in the church and the one everyone pays the least amount of attention to,” said Geyer. “We figured if we could go in, sing and bring in a speaker to give a talk, an organization could sell tickets and thus raise money. We would waive our artists’ fees and just get our expenses covered. We do not make anything on it, nor do we wish to. We want the money to go to the ministry in whatever church is holding the concert.”
Lee generally takes care of ministry affairs west of the Mississippi River, while Geyer handles them east of that point. They try to find associated Catholic Association of Musician artists in geographic areas in which they performing, to assist them with specific events.
Besides Geyer and Lee, one of the artists most involved in the Concerts for Life ministry is Gretchen Harris, who hails from the Los Angeles, Ca. area and has been a two-time nominee for female vocalist of the year at the United Catholic Music and Video Association awards. Some other affiliated musicians include John Robert Hanna, James Milanesa, Nick Alexander and the band Who Do You Say That I Am?
Geyer said the exigencies of daily life and the demands of music ministry don’t allow artists associated with Concerts for Life to devote as much time as they would like to the project, but she hopes that will change as the ministry evolves and becomes better known.
“We get involved in different aspects of our ministries and when someone calls us to do a pro-life thing, we do it,” she said. “But to sit down and do bookings for Concerts for Life – there are not enough hours in the day. But we’re always hoping people will call to set up a concert. I’d love to do one a month if I had the wherewithal to plan for that.”
Although Geyer, Lee and Harris were all in Canada to perform as part of World Youth Day events in 2002, they haven’t yet been here as part of a Concerts for Life engagement. But they do hope to come north of the border someday and, as they do in the U.S., they want the chance to partner with some Canadian artists.
“We wouldn’t hesitate to come up to Canada,” said Geyer.
Anyone interested in more information on Concerts for Life can access the website at www.colorblindmusic.com/Rachel/rachel.html. Geyer can also be reached via Colourblind Music Ministries at 24 Raynor Ave., Mount Vernon, N.Y., U.S.A., 10552. E-mail: