Sir Paul McCartney, Destiny and Hope for the Future: the quest for three words to turn a piano into a veteran’s home.
Do you believe in Destiny?
Not that whole “princess meets her prince, they fall in love and live happily ever after” fairy tale kind of stuff. More like the little signs, and perhaps the not-so-little signs, that the universe sends us to remind us that oftentimes there are greater powers in charge and we’re just along for the ride. Some call it fate. Some call it kismet. Some call it divine intervention.
Whatever your beliefs, if you happen to find yourself in a situation in which it seems like the planets and stars align, all the pieces fall in place and things are just meant to be, take a moment to stop and listen. Then act upon it. Because if you miss it, you may not get that chance again.
In all fairness, sometimes Destiny needs a little help. It provides us the dots and if we’re really paying attention, we’re afforded an opportunity to connect them. Or create them. Such is the case with the long and winding road that leads to Sir Paul McCartney, and a single autograph that can help build a home for a deserving Veteran.
This story actually begins in 2013 with an event called “Home Is Where the Art Is,” an annual fundraising gala produced by the East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity in Slidell, Louisiana. Every year, local artists transform items from the organization’s ReStore into works of art for the gala’s auction. Among the items available for last year’s event was a piano that Slidell artist Lori Gomez selected as her canvas, on which she featured portraits of Louisiana Music Legends, including Louis Armstrong, Harry Connick, Jr., Fats Domino, Dr. John, Pete Fountain, Ronnie Kole, Vince Vance, Irma Thomas, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr., Lionel Batiste, Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, and French Quarter legend “Grandpa Elliott” Small. The offering was sweetened with autographs from Ronnie and Vince. In the end, the piano took the highest bid of the night, with Slidell Memorial Hospital CEO Bill Davis and his wife, Dottie, tickled to take home the ivories.
Fast forward to 2014. As artists prepared for the upcoming ReStore Renaissance Challenge, Lori had her heart set on painting another piano for the cause, this one a tribute to The Beatles. It was agreed that the piano proceeds would be dedicated to the Habitat Veteran’s Build project. The only challenge was that there was no piano available in the ReStore.
It was time to create the first dot.
Through a few inquiries sent out via social media, the perfectly imperfect piano was located in nearby Picayune, Mississippi. It was a 1908 Kingsbury Piano, made by the Cable Company in Chicago. Its owner, Ethel Knight, advised that the antique had been in her family for four generations. It was held in storage in a state of disrepair, and had not been touched for years. When she learned of Lori’s intentions, she knew that this connection was part of a much bigger plan.
Piano scored. Dot created.
As the remaining ReStore Renaissance artists selected their canvases from the warehouse, the Home Is Where the Art Is committee began preparations for this year’s gala.
With that came the inevitable question that is typical of most, if not all, event planners: How are we going to top last year’s event?
“Given that Lori’s piano is Beatles themed, perhaps we can invite Sir Paul McCartney to perform,” I chuckled. Dream big, right?
“I’m in,” said East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity President and CEO Debbie Crouch. And we all had a good laugh.
But as I drove home from the meeting, the wheels in my head started turning. What came to mind was a fantastic quote by Dr. Robert Schuller, a retired televangelist, motivational speaker and author. He asked, quite simply, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”
Too often, people live in the fear of failure rather than the promise of possibilities. And it’s in the shadow of that fearfulness that ideas are cast aside and Destiny is lost.
Dr. Schuller also said, “The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking.”
Collectively, these two statements, if embraced by humanity, have the power to change the world.
So the questions then became, “What if?” and “How?” And Destiny took the wheel.
As it turns out, Sir Paul McCartney is scheduled to perform in New Orleans at the Smoothie King Center on October 11. That date has become dot number two. If we cannot bring Sir Paul McCartney to play the piano at the gala, can we bring the piano to Sir Paul?
What if we can work with the venue’s administration, media and Sir Paul’s management to connect all of the dots and secure the holy grail? It seems like a more attainable option. After all, if we can make arrangements to deliver the piano to the venue and strategically place it in the path along which the legendary musician will stroll between his dressing room and his sound check, we just may be able to secure those three coveted words: Sir Paul McCartney.
Now here’s where the dots really align.
In addition to his lengthy career achievements, Sir Paul can now add another credit to his resume: that of video game soundtrack composer. Embracing the creative challenges of the video game industry, the musician has recently scored a new game created by Bungie and Activision, the latter of which is best known for its Halo game. The new game’s name? Destiny. And the final song on the game’s soundtrack is called “Hope for the Future.”
It’s exactly what Habitat is all about—providing hope for a better future for those who just need a chance.
It just seems like all of the dots have connected and the big picture is screaming, “This is Destiny.”
And so began the quest: internet sleuthing for contact information, reaching out to Sir Paul’s labels in NY and the UK, to his manager and various media contacts, all of whom may be able to assist toward this effort.
As October 11 quickly approaches, we’re still anxiously awaiting that confirmation that the dream will become a reality. Three words. Three simple words that can change a life.
As Sir Paul sings in his new song, “Hope for the future. It’s coming soon enough. How much can we achieve? Hope for the future. It will belong to us if we believe. If we believe.”
Do you believe in Destiny?
The East St. Tammany Habitat’s Home Is Where the Art Is auction and gala will be held on Friday, November 21, 7 to 11 p.m. at the Northshore Harbor Center in Slidell, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. Should the coveted autograph be secured, the piano will be listed on CharityBuzz, with 100% of proceeds dedicated to the EST Habitat Veterans’ Build. The purchaser’s donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. For more information or for tickets to the gala, contact Debbie Crouch at (985) 639-0656.