Jamestown musician produces album to benefit homelessness
Seaside Consulting, an 11-yearold firm owned by Lynne Donahue of Jamestown, has announced the release of a new compilation album. Proceeds from the album will benefit Housing First Rhode Island, a division of Riverwood Mental Health Services.
The new album is titled “Everyone Deserves a Home.” It was produced by Jamestown musician Aaron Cote, who is also a social media and marketing specialist for Seaside Consulting. The album’s 14 tracks were all created by Rhode Island musicians, and each one addresses some aspect of homelessness. Among the artists on the album include the Michelle Cruz Quartet, Kingston 530, James Thomas, MOGA, Robert Johnson Howard and Beth Desombre.
According to Cote, who was already working on a video for Housing
First Rhode Island, the idea for the album came to him when he was loading his drums into his car one day. He saw a bird entering a birdhouse on his property.
“I thought, man, here I am working on housing for people, and even the birds in my yard have their own house that we put up for them. That’s when I thought that everyone deserves a home.”
Following some discussions with Housing First, Cote put out a call to local artists to contribute tracks to the album. Cote, who has never produced an album before, initially found Rhode Island artists by searching Facebook and creating a page on the social media outlet. That is where someone from the Rhode Island songwriters association noticed it. Soon after, submissions started flowing in. Approximately 30 songs were submitted, and 14 were chosen to be part of the album.
According to Cote, it was important that the music on the album represented several different genres. Cote himself can be found playing on two of the tracks, including one with Michelle Cruz, a singer who routinely performs in Jamestown. Cote said that he invited Cruz to write a song, and she did. “A powerful song called ‘Little Hope,” said Cote.
That song and two others were recorded at Summing Point Studio in Newport. The studio owners expressed willingness to do the recording for free. The final mastering was done there as well. The other tracks were recorded elsewhere by the individual artists and submitted to Cote.
“All of the songs are original,” Cote said, “and all of them apply to the mood that we were going for. All of them are about some form of street life, homelessness or economic downfall.”
Several artists were asked to contribute the artwork for the album. Of these submissions, one by Travis Larkin really stood out. Larkin lives in Virginia, but was raised in Rhode Island. In addition to the album, Larkin contributed the artwork for the posters and invitations associated with the album.
According to Don Bocher, program director for Housing First Rhode Island, the organization is a supportive housing program specifically focused on people who chronically find themselves without a home. Boucher said that Housing First works with approximately 200 clients throughout the state, including 25 families. The organization provides scattered site apartments for its clients, as well as a variety of support services including psychiatry, nursing, vocational training and substanceabuse counseling.
“The idea is that if you house people first, and then provide supports around the housing, you’ll get a good success rate,” Boucher said.
According to Boucher, Housing First is a national program with a success rate of 85 percent nationwide. Success is defined by clients maintaining their housing in the same way that any other tenant does. Subsidies for the apartments are provided by the state’s housing department, and a variety of grants are used to fund the support services. Clients pay one-third of their income if they one.
“It’s really been my belief that if we can get the arts community to support this particular model, it will add momentum,” said Boucher. “Aaron did the lion’s share of the groundwork, but it came out of the idea that the endorsement of this project by performing artists would create greater public awareness.”
Seaside Consulting, the company sponsoring the album, is a firm that helps organizations expand, grow and thrive through fundraising and grant writing.
“We have different types of clients, from small start-ups to big nonprofits,” said Donahue. “We like what we do because we’re helping to make the community a better place to live through working with nonprofits that are involved with housing, healthcare and education.”
Donahue, who has an master’s in business administration, has lived in Jamestown for 12 years. Initially Seaside Consulting was run from her home, but she recently opened an office in East Greenwich.
“I am surprised and overwhelmed by the response of the Rhode Island music community,” Donahue said. “They gave up their time to bring visibility to the homeless issue, and all of the bands were fantastic to work with. It was a very positive process and I know it’s going to help the Riverwood project a lot.”
The album was unveiled Tuesday at a benefit event at the Waterman Grille in Providence. The album will be available at area record stores and a variety of online sources including iTunes and Amazon. Each of the participating artists will also sell the album at their appearances.