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Songs | Spring 2015

A Gentle Wind

A Tribute to Jill Person

“You changed the face of the music scene,” says this song about Jill Person, and indeed, she did. When she began A Gentle Wind in Albany, New York, in the early 1980s with her husband, Donald Person, she had a vision of changing young lives with meaningful music and stories. She pioneered music for families that shared joy, ecological awareness, and respect for youth. Frequently parents would tell Jill that they were able to play these recordings over and over on long car rides because adults loved them as much as children. Ruth Pelham (“Under One Sky”) and Jill’s brother, Paul Strausman, were the first people Jill recorded, and she went on to bring out forty-five different performers, songwriters, musical groups, and storytellers. Other CMN members who created A Gentle Wind recordings include Lisa Atkinson, Pam Donkin, Purly Gates, Sammie Haynes, Faith Petric, and Betsy Rose. The beautiful covers of every recording were Jill’s own artwork.

The influence of Jill’s wisdom was embedded in the values founding CMN. Her high standards as an educator pushed us to rewrite our songs until they shone, and sitting on her couch, as mentioned in the song, many a time she guided me. We did five recordings together. At the 2014 CMN conference, the weekend would have been incomplete if we hadn’t fully honored Jill. At dinner Saturday night I took a song I had written to her a year ago to cheer on her healing and rewrote it to sing in the round-robin as a tribute song. More information and audio clips of A Gentle Wind songs can be found at http://www.gentlewind.com.

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