February 21, 2011
Losing someone you love – especially when that person is young, and vibrant and taken in the most horrific of ways – is an experience that would immobilize many of us with grief. For Jean Purcell and Rachel Ebeling, the loss of their best friend Teresa Butz, who was raped and murdered in 2009, has had the opposite effect. These two extraordinary women decided to honor Teresa’s life even as they mourned her death, by creating a record, “The Angel Band Project,” that features some of the most beautiful and heartfelt music I have ever heard.
When Rachel and Jean first approached The Voices and Faces Project about creating a tribute album that would raise funds for the fight to end sexual violence, it was not very long after Teresa’s death. As I listened to them talk of their love for Teresa, I could feel the power of their loss. But I could also feel their sense of purpose – their deep desire to honor Teresa while raising awareness of how violence against women affects victims (most importantly), but also their families and communities. It has been amazing to see that “sense of purpose” in action – to watch Rachel and Jean create a tribute album (a monumental task in and of itself) while always remaining true to their core purpose or honoring Teresa and reminding the world that violence against women is a painful reality that we all must work to end.
Rachel and Jean have rallied friends, engaged the corporate and music community, and had the courage to speak out about an issue and an experience that many may wish to turn away from. They have done so with humility and grace and always, always, with Teresa in mind. By combining what is in their hearts with hard work – the most potent of combinations – they have made an extraordinary contribution to the movement to end violence against women. Of course, in creating “The Angel Band Project” they have done something more: they have reminded us of all that remains possible in the wake of the terrible. Their gift of hope is one that resonates for all or us who have lived through, or lost someone to, violence. What a privilege and a joy it has been to work with two women who have made such hope possible.
Anne K. Ream,
Founder and Creative Director
The Voices and Faces Project
“What to say about the Angel Band project? Amazing, emotional, inspiring, powerFULL energy that generates a life-force all of it’s own. It is a memorial to grief and loss, avenue for healing, testimony to survival, a call to education and action and a celebration of life all rolled into one big experience. It is not something easily passed over or forgotten.” – Susan Faupel, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault
“As a social work teacher, I want people to understand, learn and feel what survivors of sexual assault may encounter. The Angel Band Project is reaching out, educating, and touching people. I applaud The Angel Band Project because it effectively reaches people on a topic that is often not talked about – sexual assault.” – Dr. Susan Tebb, School of Social Work, St. Louis University
“The Angel Band Project turns loss into hope and healing by harnessing the power of music to educate, inspire and promote lasting change. They are a welcome addition to the movement to end sexual violence in Missouri.” – Gail Reynoso, Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
“Sexual violence will only be stopped when the silence around this tragic, life-altering issue is ended. Through their music, the Angel Band Project has raised their collective voice to end the silence and send a resounding message of understanding, hope and renewal.” — Kathleen Hanrahan, Sexual Assault Victim Advocate