Unique Holiday Gift of Uplifting Music Lets Families Share Hope; Partial Proceeds Can Benefit ARC of Oswego County or Oswego Industries, Inc.

Nov. 19, 2009 — SingSOS! announces the release today of an album of original songs about autism. SingSOS!/Songs of the Spectrum is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that enlists the power of music to spread the word about autism spectrum disorders and the importance of early detection and intensive intervention. Partial proceeds from album sales will benefit regional nonprofits working with individuals on the autism spectrum, including ARC of Oswego County and Oswego Industries, Inc.

The music is available in digital download and CD form at singsos.org. On the album and at the site, there is also a hand-selected set of high-quality information for parents and educators about autism in free downloadable form, including excerpts from books by leading experts.

This album is unique and timely because:

* Autism is of greater concern than ever, with recent studies putting prevalence at 1 in 100.
* It features an appealing mix of established artists – along with Browne and Williams, there are performers like Marshall Crenshaw and Jonatha Brooke, and emerging names including Christina Courtin, Richard Julian and Ari Hest.
* In a field flooded with misinformation, the album offers a hand-picked selection of brochures, articles and book chapters, along with links to videos and interactive tools – a one-stop shopping resource for those with a need to know more.
* It offers both a message of hope and an unflinching look at the realities faced by the families of people on the autism spectrum.
* Unlike most charity CDs, this features a unified set of songs with a single point of view.
* An innovative distribution plan engages the autism community to spread the word.

Beginning Nov. 19th, the album can be downloaded at www.singsos.org for a $15 donation or ordered as a CD for $20. It will also be available via through major online outlets including iTunes and Amazon. Purchasers can choose a nonprofit group to receive funds from the sale (those wishing funds to go to ARC of Oswego County should select “The Arc” from the drop-down menu, and in the Comments field, specify that the Oswego Chapter should receive the funds).

Starting Nov. 30th, experts from the featured schools will discuss the issues raised by the songs and answer reader questions on a blog at singsos.org.

The original cover image is by Jonathan Lerman, the winner of a recent SingSOS contest for artists on the spectrum. Several other autistic artists contributed art to the CD packaging and website, where all contest entries can be seen.

The songs on the album are a collaboration between John O’Neil, a New York Times editor whose 2004 essay for the paper about his autistic son James was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and Jon Fried and Deena Shoshkes, a husband/wife team that performs as the Cucumbers. Fried and Shoshkes are close friends of the O’Neil family, and have witnessed first hand James’s struggle and progress. One song was co-written by O’Neil’s oldest son, Chris, about the issues siblings face, and James contributed the final track, a poem about the different point of view of someone on the spectrum.

“Early intervention and dedicated, relentless treatment can have a genuinely transforming effect,’’ said O’Neil. “We want to bring listeners inside an experience that is so hard to see and so hard to understand. Autism has understandably been called an ‘invisible epidemic.’ We hope to make it tangible.”

“This is different from other charity albums, which are usually compilations of unrelated songs. It takes a unified set of songs by writers steeped in the experience, and puts them in the hands of some of the best vocalists and song interpreters of their generation,” said Jon Fried. “The songs tell a cohesive story that affected families and others with an interest in or connection to autism can follow. We’ve had listeners tell us ‘You are singing my life’ and ‘Now I feel less alone.’ ”

A performance of the SingSOS songs was the concluding event of the United Nations’ activities marking World Autism Awareness Day in April 2009.

The complete list of SingSOS! vocal artists is: Jackson Browne and Valerie Carter (duet), Dar Williams, Marshall Crenshaw, Teddy Geiger, Jonatha Brooke, Richard Julian, Dan Bern and Mike Viola (duet), Don Dixon and Marti Jones (duet), Ollabelle, Christina Courtin, Ari Hest, Kelly Flint and The Cucumbers.

For more information, visit www.singsos.org.