From The Trenton Times, Saturday, December 1, 2007
by Greg Vellner, Special to the Times
It was at about this time last holiday season that Tom Meagher made
a list and checked it twice.
Contact Princeton-area choirs about a Christmas recording.
Sell CD for $30, with all proceeds to benefit starving children in Africa.
Call album "A Princeton Christmas: For the Children of Africa."
Meagher's vision has come true with the release shortly before Thanksgiving
of the first-of-its-kind CD. Eight Princeton-area choirs are featured.
"It makes a great Christmas gift," said the 50-year-old Lawrenceville
man, a Princeton native. "People buy Christmas music every year and
here's a way for them to get great music and also make a direct donation
to the World Food Program. The $30 purchase of this incredible CD will
feed one African child for nearly three months."
The 20-song, hourlong CD benefits the School Feeding campaign of the
United Nations' World Food Program. It was produced in conjunction with
the U.S.-based Friends of the World Food Program.
Choirs featured are the American Boychoir, Princeton Girlchoir, Tartantones
of Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, Westminster Choir,
Westminster Concert Bell Choir, Princeton Day School Choir Madrigal
Singers, Princeton High School Choir, and Princeton University Chapel
Meagher, a New York City lawyer, was motivated by a love of Christmas
music. In fact, his idea was born while enjoying his favorite Christmas
collection, The American Boychoir on "Hallmark Presents the Tradition
of Christmas with Harry Belafonte."
"It's basically my favorite Christmas album of all time," he said.
Why not produce an album featuring the rich tradition of the many Princeton
choirs, he wondered.
"My thought was there must be a way to get these groups together," Meagher
said. "It quickly went from idea to album because every school we approached
-- from the high schools to Princeton University -- believes in the
mission and could not wait to participate."
In the back of his mind, too, was the gnawing thought something good
should come out of CD sales.
A colleague, Bobby A. Williams from Liberia, told Meagher about a 1991
effort that promoted nutrition and education in Africa. The new effort,
thought Meagher, could do the same.
"It's a way to entice families to send their children to school so they
will receive a nutritious meal," said Meagher. "It's sort of a two-for
with them getting an education and a meal."
There was no need to go into a recording studio, as choir directors
donated recordings of their groups for the compilation. Others stepped
up, too. John Baker, a graduate of Princeton Day School, engineered
the CD, while friends Martin Olech handled Web site design and Evelyn
Good the graphics for the album.
Songs on the CD include:
The American Boychoir: "Ding Dong! Merrily on High" and "In the Bleak
Princeton Day School Madrigal Singers: "Hark I Hear the Harps Eternal."
Princeton Girlchoir: "Personent Hodie," "Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let
it Snow!", "Sleigh Ride" and "A New Year Carol."
Princeton High School Choir: "Hodie Christus Natur Est" and "Celebrons
Princeton University Chapel Choir: "The First Nowell," "How Brightly
Shines the Morning Star," "Adam Lay Ybounden," "Sussex Carol," "Mariabaen,"
"Nativity Carol" and "Kerstlied."
Tartantones of Stuart Country Day School: "Night of Silence" and "This
Westminster Choir of the Westminster Choir College of Rider University:
"The Hills are Bare at Bethlehem."
Westminster Concert Bell Choir of the Westminster Choir College of Rider
University: "Marche of The Nutcracker."
The recording-as-fundraiser won rave reviews from Shirley A. Tilgham,
president of Princeton University and a former secondary school teacher
in Sierrra Leone, West Africa.
"Princeton University is proud to be part of this remarkable grassroots
initiative to help the children of Africa," Tilgham said. "The music
is enchanting and inspirational, and the message of hope and love is
And Karen Sendelback, president and CEO of Friends of the World Food
Program, praised the project.
"We are proud to team up with the Princeton community in this timely
and inspired effort to help feed the children of Africa."
"A Princeton Christmas" can be purchased on iTunes or by visiting (www.princetonchristmas.org).
"The money goes directly to the School Feeding program," Meagher said.
Does Meagher have a fundraising goal for the project?
"I tell people that I expect this will make either $10,000 or $100,000
or $1 million," he said. "We've been doing a lot of publicity pro bono,
trying to get some traction. People have to see it and then actually
respond to it and purchase it."
For Meagher, the project came out of a desire to "get things done."
"People too often don't realize that with a little effort and a little
time, they can accomplish a lot."
For more information, visit Friends of the World Food Program (http:/
www.friendsofwfp.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to building
support for the WFP (http://www.wfp.org).
Tom Meagher (A Princeton Christmas) / 908-907-3377
Maria Reppas / email@example.com
/ 202- 530-1694 x 111