Local songbird to perform at cancer relay today

6-7-08

Live with passion.

That’s the message local singer Debra Alt wants to convey to cancer survivors when she performs her new song, Each Moment We’re Alive, at North Branford’s Relay For Life today at North Branford High School.

Friend and cancer survivor Monica Baer asked Alt to write and perform a song for the event after hearing Voice for Sam, also on Alt’s new CD, In Broad Daylight. The song was inspired by an autism walkathon and her autistic nephew, Sam

“It was a turning point for me when Monica asked me to do this. I saw it as a new stage in my life,” Alt said.

Simone Upsey, director of communications for the American Cancer Society, commends the effort. “It is a slice of humanity at its very best,” she said.

Alt, who’s father died of cancer last year, was touched by the request because she is so closely connected to it. She donated one of the hundreds of luminaries, bearing the name of her father, which will illuminate the North Branford track for part of the relay.

“The hardest part was getting past the emotion for my father and seeing people survive what he didn’t,” said Alt.

Alt, who has never been diagnosed with cancer, approached the song from a different angle. She listened to stories of cancer survivors and tried to add a little bit of everyone’s story.

“I had to really contain myself. It was really emotional, Alt said. I still wince when I hear the song. I think about my father’s pain and the pain of other’s and wonder how they go through that and still have a zest for life.”

Alt said she hopes her song conveys that passion for life. She wants to inspire people who have been affected by cancer as well as those who haven’t.

“The song is a heartfelt reminder about how precious life is; a reminder that life is a gift,” she said.

Upsey described the song as “beautiful.”

“The words come from her heart. There is so much beauty and power in the song,” said Upsey.

“Singing for a cause gives me a voice for expressing and echoing human condition,” said Alt.

Alt said she would like to explore songwriting about other causes, including Alzheimer’s disease as well as significant relationships in life.

One relationship in particular that she has written songs about is the one with her daughter. Her first CD, “A Spirited Mother,” dealt with struggles of parenthood. Through her music, she hoped to help parents who struggle with raising kids in a “toxic society.”

“Once you write from a personal place, you find it really becomes universal,” Alt said.

“Living the joy of what you love to do contributes to the world in a much bigger way. People get the authenticity of it. It affects them.”

At this stage of her life, and with her daughter now 14, Alt is ready to focus on the career she has always wanted.

Alt can be contacted at debrasong.com, where CDs are also available. Donations will go to the American Cancer Society.

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