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Steve I.
Democrat NY 3

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  • Urging Nomination of Harry Chapin in the Songwriters Hall of Fame

    by Representative Steve Israel

    Posted on 2014-12-16

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    ISRAEL of new york in the house of representatives Tuesday, December 16, 2014 Mr. ISRAEL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the career of Harry Chapin, and to urge the Songwriters Hall of Fame to nominate him for induction. Harry Chapin is known not only for his powerful songwriting but also for his philanthropy and activism, as he spent his life fighting hunger and poverty in his Long Island community and around the world. His eminence as a songwriter and as an activist proves that he is deserving of this honor. I am also submitting for the record my letter to the Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as a letter from Sandy Chapin, Harry's wife.



    Though his musical career lasted only a decade, Harry Chapin's talent lives on through his timeless songs and powerful storytelling. He wrote over 400 songs in that time, including classic songs like ``Taxi'' and ``Cat's in the Cradle;'' released nine albums; and wrote a Broadway musical, ``The Night That Made America Famous.'' He also wrote songs for television and film. He was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

    Furthermore, Harry's humanitarian work serving the people of Long Island deserves to be remembered and honored. He donated half of his concert revenue to charity and founded various organizations that continue to fight hunger and poverty on Long Island and around the world. Harry co-founded WhyHunger, a grassroots organization that supports over 8,000 community groups nationwide in their efforts to develop innovative programs to eliminate hunger and provide sustainable, health food sources. He founded New York City's Hunger Hotline and Long Island's first food bank, Long Island Cares, which today distributes more than six million pounds of food every year. Long Island Cares also provides community members with nutrition education, job training, and veterans' services, because Harry understood that ending hunger requires addressing the root causes of poverty. In 1977, he lobbied Congress and President Carter to establish a Presidential Commission on World Hunger, on which he served as an active member. For all of his humanitarian work, Harry posthumously received a Congressional Gold Medal in 1987. His legacy lives on with the Harry Chapin Foundation, which continues to support charities that fight hunger and poverty, as well as organizations that support arts education.

    Harry Chapin's contributions to music and to the world should not be forgotten, and again I encourage his nomination to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

    Steve Israel, House of Representatives, December 16, 2014.

    Board Members, Songwriters Hall of Fame, New York, NY.

    To the Board Members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame: I write today to ask for full and fair consideration for Harry Chapin, a Long Island treasure, as a nominee for induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In his life, Harry Chapin was known not only for writing songs that resonated but also for his philanthropic efforts and activism to combat hunger and poverty both in his Long Island community and around the world. His eminence as a songwriter and as a leader in the fight against poverty and hunger proves him truly deserving of this honor.

    Though his musical career lasted only a decade, Harry Chapin's enduring legacy ensures that his talent will live on through his timeless songs that reverberate across generations. During that brief period, Harry wrote over 400 songs, including classics like ``Taxi'' and ``Cat's in the Cradle;'' released nine albums; and wrote a Broadway musical, ``The Night That Made America Famous.'' He also wrote songs for television and film. He was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

    Harry's unparalleled humanitarian work serving the people of Long Island also deserves recognition. Along with donating half of his concert revenue to charity and founding various organizations to fight hunger and poverty on Long Island and around the world, Harry also served as a powerful voice lobbying Congress and President Carter to establish a Presidential Commission on World Hunger, on which he served as an active member. For all of his humanitarian work, Harry posthumously received a Congressional Gold Medal in 1987. His legacy lives on with the Harry Chapin Foundation, which continues to support charities that fight hunger and poverty, such as Long Island Cares, as well as organizations that support arts education.

    Today, I'm proud to give much deserved recognition to Harry Chapin's contributions to music and to the world in the House of Representatives. Harry's legacy is timeless and should not be forgotten. I once again ask for full and fair consideration for his nomination to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

    Sincerely, Steve Israel, Member of Congress.

    ____ September 15, 2013.

    Board Members, Songwriters Hall of Fame, New York, NY.

    Board Members of the Song Writers Hall of Fame: I am writing to ask that you might consider Harry Chapin as one of your [[Page E1853]] next recipients for the Songwriters Hall of Fame Award. While reading your news letter about the recipients for 2008 Awards I couldn't help but think that Harry is long overdue for a honor such as this.

    Harry Chapin earned a devoted audience during the '70s, through his music and his charity work as a social activist. Harry wrote and recorded a reasonably large body of work before his death in 1981. Though many may not know all of Harry's songs (he wrote over 400), his legion of fans continue to buy his CD's, as well as attempt to unearth lost recordings by the man to this day.

    Harry Chapin is remembered by a generation of music fans as one of America's greatest musical storytellers and troubadours, but as Ralph Nader said, ``to talk about Harry Chapin only as a singer-composer is like viewing Theodore Roosevelt as a state assemblyman or Babe Ruth as a pitcher. More that any other entertainer in his generation, Harry was a citizen-artist.'' Harry's albums, musical plays and TV contributions are listed as follows: Chapin Music (1966, Rock-Land Records) Harry's early years with brothers Tom and Steve.

    Heads and Tales (1972, Elektra) Harry's first album with Elektra, was released in the summer of 1972 and became a success thanks to the hit single ``Taxi,'' which soon became the songwriter's signature tune. Taxi became the most requested song in America for ten weeks in a row and earned Harry a Grammy nomination as best new artist.

    Sniper and Other Love Songs (1972, Elektra) Short Stories (1973, Elektra) This album it spent 23 weeks on the charts due to the success of the single ``W.O.L.D.,'' a story about the life of a disc jockey.

    Verities & Balderdash (1974, Elektra) This album became his biggest hit, becoming a gold record. The album's success was benefited by the number-one single ``Cat's in the Cradle,'' a song about an inconsiderate, career-oriented father that was based on a poem written by Sandy Chapin, his wife. He earned another Grammy nomination as best male vocal performer.

    Portrait Gallery (1975, Elektra) his follow-up to Verities and Balderdash. The album performed respectably, peaking at number 53.

    The Night That Made America Famous In the mean time, Harry had been working on his musical which opened on February 26, 1975. The show earned two Tony nominations.

    Make a Wish Harry won an Emmy award in the spring for his contributions of songs to ABC television's children's series Make a Wish, which was hosted by his brother Tom. At that time Harry also co-founded World Hunger Year, a charity designed to raise money to fight international famine; the organization earned over $350,000 in its first year.

    Greatest Stories Live (Double Album, 1976, Elektra) This double album, became the singer/songwriter's second gold album, peaking at number 48. Chapin was becoming more politically active throughout 1976, as evidenced by his role as a delegate at that summer's Democratic Convention.

    Dance Band on the Titanic (Double Album, 1977, Elektra) This album was also on the charts.

    Living Room Suite (1978, Elektra) The following year, Harry Chapin met with President Jimmy Carter, discussing the need for a Presidential Commission on Hunger; he also released Living Room Suite that summer, which peaked at number 133.

    Legends of the Lost and Found (Double Album, 1979, Elektra) His second live album.

    Sequel (1980, Boardwalk Records) Harry signed with Boardwalk Records, releasing Sequel; the title track of the album was a sequel to his first hit single, ``Taxi,'' and became his last Top 40 hit before his death.

    Mothers & Daughters: The Loving War (1980, ABC Friday Night Movie) Harry wrote the music for this TV production.

    Cotton Patch Gospel (1981) The off-Broadway premiere of Cotton Patch Gospel, original score by Harry Chapin received praise as ``The best music Harry Chapin ever wrote'' by-- David Marsh, Rolling Stone Magazine. This was his last after a career as one of the great American folk singers and one of the great humanitarians having raised over 5 million dollars for World Hunger.

    Anthology of Harry Chapin (1985, Elektra) Remember When the Music (1987, Dunhill Compact Classics) The Gold Medal Collection (1988, Elektra) The Last Protest Singer (1988, Dunhill Compact Classics) Harry Chapin Tribute (1990, Relativity Records) The Bottom Line Encore Collection (1998, Bottom Line/Koch) Story of a Life (1999, Elektra) VHI Behind the Music The Harry Chapin Collection (2001, MTV Networks) Sequel (2001, re-mastered and re-released on CD Chapin Productions LLC) Sniper and Other Love Songs (Re-mastered and re-released on CD 2002, Wounded Bird Records) The Last Protest Singer (2002, re-mastered and re-released on CD Chapin Productions LLC) Harry Chapin Songwriter (2002) Originally produced in 1975 for the educational series Pipeline, this CD closes the distance between listener and performer. A real treat for any aspiring musician, who, regardless of his status as a Harry Chapin fan, will no doubt gain a clear and simple outline for writing a successful song. The disc is broken down into five parts: a short, friendly introduction, the second part, a soulful, acoustical version of a previously unrecorded gem called ``Too Many Miles.'' The third part is the meat of the disc. Harry talks of the difference between ``attitudinal'' songs and his own unique style of story songs. He then goes through the process of building a chorus and its verses, discussing the pitfalls of first-time songwriter, strategies for successful rhyming, and finding a ``zinger.'' In the fourth part Harry plays a short upbeat track off the Portrait Gallery album, ``Stop Singing These Sad Songs.'' In the fifth and final part, he conveys easily such concepts as tonal consistency and ``architectural constants.'' The conversation closes with Harry talking about what is plainly evident throughout Songwriter, his ``joy of doing it.'' Heads and Tales/Sniper and Other Love Songs (2004, Elektra. Double CD re-release of first two albums with bonus tracks) Legends of the Lost and Found (Double Album, 2005, re- mastered and re-released on CD, Chapin Productions LLC) Introducing. Harry Chapin (2006) Harry Chapin Cat's In the Cradle and Other Songs (2008, Elektra) Harry performed more than 250 concerts every year, and donated the proceeds for half of them to charity. After his concerts, he would go into the lobby and sign autographs and sell records, T-shirts and song books. And every penny he took in would go to charity, especially the battle to end world hunger. He spent four months nearly single-handedly successfully lobbying both Congress and President Carter to form a Presidential Commission on Domestic and International Hunger and Malnutrition, activity serving as a member of the commission.

    On Sunday July 26, 1981, Ralph Nader wrote in the Sunday New York Times: ``We hope that Taxi is sung as long as there are taxis and lovers with long memories. And we hope as well that Harry Chapin's legacy will include not only his music but his citizenship, so that others may learn of his example and emulate it. For he was a model of what Justice Felix Frankfurter once referred to as the highest position in a democracy--the office of citizen. That was no third-rate folk singer (as he called himself), only a first rate American.'' Harry Chapin was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006.

    I have enclosed a copy of the CD, Harry Chapin Songwriter as a gift to you, thinking that you may find it an appropriate piece considering my request. May you enjoy it! Sincerely, Sandra Chapin, Chapin Productions LLC.

    ____________________

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