Tag Archives: Frannie Southworth

COVID-19 Roundup: Resurrection; RaRa; Frannie Faith; Garden Club; More

The pandemic has forced a lot of religious services into cyberspace. But there’s still plenty of activity at Green’s Farms Church.

The 157-year-old meetinghouse of the 309-year-old church is being renovated. The few people driving past on Hillandale Road will see a naked building (siding has been removed for off-site lead paint remediation).

Inside, workers have dismantled the 1964 Aeolian Skinner pipe organ. It’s been sent to New Jersey for restoration. Church officials hope to have it back by fall, reinstalled in a renovated meetinghouse.

“The first Sunday we all get gather and sing with the resurrected organ will be a big day in our history, for more than one reason!” says operations director Claire England.

Whether you’re a member or not — or even a non-believer — I have faith you’ll enjoy this video:

Westport artist Lisa Stretton recently launched a new business. Real Art Real Artists (aka RaRa) is a very cool online directory that helps local artists connect with consumers, and offers art-lovers an easy way to find artists in their area.

Art is searchable by location, theme, style and price. Buyers contact the artist directly, by email, phone or the artist’s personal website.

RaRa takes no commission. Artists pay a low monthly fee to be listed. However, to help them during the pandemic — when they need it most — Stretton is offering free listings to artists. Just click here, and use the code RaRa2020.

RaRa also includes videos, and information about art shows and events.

The Westport Garden Club’s Plant Sale has been held — rain or shine — every year since 1928. The only reason it’s been canceled was World War II.

And now, COVID-19.

With regret, the 96-year-old club has scrubbed the May 8 event. They’d hoped to reschedule, but a new date cannot be found.

The June 11 open meeting has been canceled to. The next one is September 10.

However, public gardens the club maintains are open for enjoyment. Grace K. Salmon Park on Imperial Avenue, and the Nevada Hitchcock Garden (corner of Cross Highway and Weston Road) feature new daffodil plantings.

The Westport Pollinator Pathway Project, launched last year with Earthplace and Wakeman Town Farm, continues. Educational programs will be added as circumstances improve. Click here to find resources for native plants.

For more information about the Westport Garden Club, click here ,and follow on Facebook.

Every other week, Frannie Southworth leads a free music and meditation class on Zoom.

It started as a class called Shabbat Shalva (Sabbath of Peace) through her synagogue, Temple Shalom in Norwalk.

Now –during COVID — it has some Jewish content, but is not particularly religiously oriented. People of all faiths join in.

Southworth’s husband Jeff plays guitar. Together they perform soothing songs and chants. She then guides a relaxation body scan and meditation, and teaches breathing techniques to keep the nervous system calm.

The next class is this Saturday (May 2, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) Email Franniefaith@me.com. For more information, click here.

Frannie and Jeff Southworth

And finally … at times like these, we need Times Like These.

Frannie Southworth Sings For Fred Hellerman

Fred Hellerman — an iconic folksinger, guitarist, songwriter and producer, and a longtime Weston resident — died a year ago this month.

Yesterday, a galaxy of musical stars gathered at Lincoln Center to honor his memory. Among the participants was Westporter Frannie Southworth. She writes:

It was an honor to participate in a musical memorial at Merkin concert hall yesterday for Fred Hellerman.

Fred Hellerman

As an original member of the Weavers — along with Pete Seeger — he was a social activist who sang about and stood up for our rights and peace.

He lived through the McCarthy era, when the Weavers were blacklisted — along with many other creative artists.

I recently received a call from my friend, Westport filmmaker Martin West, who had included me in his 2003 film, “A Gathering of Glory,” which explored the arts legacy of Westport and Weston.

Martin was a close friend of Fred’s, and had recommended me to Fred’s wife Susan to sing a song at the memorial.

The Weavers included Pete Seeger (far left) and Fred Hellerman (far right).

I met Susan at her home. She gave me a tour of Fred’s studio — with fabulous photos and clippings on the walls — and played me a couple of Fred’s songs that she had picked as possibilities for me to sing.

I was immediately drawn to “Lonely Girl Blues,” a different genre than most of Fred’s other songs. It was more likes a 1940s bluesy ballad, which I love to sing. It had lots of accidentals, sort of like jazz horn lines but for the singer, and interior key changes. Exciting and challenging to learn!

An old friend, Tommy Mandel, who played with Bryan Adams for years, said he would join me on piano. I was off and running.

Fabulous performers from our area represented at the concert included Emma Kiara, a beautiful young Weston singer.

In the green room I was warmly greeted by one of Fred’s son’s, Caleb, and musician friends and family who helped coordinate the event. 

I met the most wonderful, warm and talented performers, including Peter Yarrow and Noah Paul Stookey from Peter Paul and Mary, and Tom Chapin.

Frannie Southworth (in purple, center) singing with, among others, Noel Paul Stookey (sitting, left) and Tom Chapin (far right).

Then there was David Amram, a composer and conductor, multi-instrumentalist and author. I fell in love with him. 87 years young, he performed magnificently, has an incredible zest for life, a love for music and people, and a huge heart.

Singing there was magical. The sound was fabulous, the audience appreciative and the hall quite beautiful.

Watching Peter and Paul perform songs promoting harmony — not divisiveness — and one called “The Children Are Listening” (about how our children learn from us what they hear and see) was a real treat.

The finale of “Good Night Irene” — the Weavers’ classic song — singing along with all of these compassionate and loving people was the icing on the cake.

A Southworth December

This is quite a month for the Southworth family.

Tomorrow  (Sunday, December 9, 2 p.m.), Frannie and Jeff Southworth’s Heart & Soul Band perform at the Westport Library.

Less than 2 weeks later — Thursday, December 20 (8 p.m., Seabury Center) — Alan Southworth’s Princeton Nassoons present a holiday  concert.

The music — Heart & Soul plays songs from the 1920s to the 2010s, while the Nassoon’s are a very entertaining a cappella group — is tremendous.

But the concerts are just 2 more examples of the ways the very talented  Southworth clan gives back to the town.

Frannie and Jeff Southworth

Frannie Southworth— well known for her television and radio commercials, and as country-western singer Jimmie Sue on “As The World Turns”– has lived in Westport for 22 years. She’s performed often at First Night, and ”Broadway on Beachside” for The American Cancer Society.

Frannie has helped raise over $50,000 for charities like Project ALS, World Hunger Year, and the Circle of Care’s main fundraiser.

Jeff toured and recorded with Hall & Oates, Laura Branigan and Graham Nash. He’s written, arranged and produced for Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Wynonna Judd, Ray Charles and Aaron Neville.

This fall, he and Frannie donated their time and talents to the Caron Center, an event for drug and alcohol abuse treatment.

Alan Southworth

Their son Alan has followed the family tradition of community involvement. A singer, classical pianist, and bass and mandolin player, the 2010 Staples graduate raised money for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and the Invisible Children Club.  He has performed at many Westport functions, and with his parents at a nursing home.

His Princeton Nassoons group sings around the world, often for charitable causes.

December is a crazy month for everyone. It’s also a month when we try to give a bit of ourselves to others.

Just as the Southworths have done for so long.

(To reserve a ticket for the Nassoons’ concert — $35; $25 for seniors age 70 and older, and children under 18 — email frans@optonline.net)