When confronted with a humanitarian crisis like the one in Darfur, what can one person do?

If you’re Helene McCardle, you become a music producer.

McCardle, an actress and cabaret singer living in Pasadena, was moved by the images and stories coming out of Darfur. Wanting to taking action, she turned to her colleagues in the L.A. cabaret community. Her idea: You can help save a life in the time it takes to sing a song.

McCardle asked her fellow singers and instrumentalists whether they would be interested in being part of a musical project to aid Darfur refugees. Says McCardle, “They responded in a big way!”.

Some offered tracks from their albums. Others went into the studio and made new recordings especially for the project. Some sang their own material, some sang classics.

Roughly half a year later, A Drop of Rain: Songs of Strength and Hope for Darfur was released. A compilation CD featuring nineteen tracks, it includes original songs as well as covers of standards like “The Rose” and “God Bless the Child.”

The variety of musical styles on the album—jazz, rock, folk, gospel, show tunes, and more—reflects the diversity of the L.A. cabaret scene.

McCardle, who specializes in the songs of Jacques Brel and Kurt Weill, sings Brel’s “Sons Of ” on the album. She also performs a duet, “If I Could,” with MaryJo Mundy, hostess of the long-running “Mundy on Tuesdays” cabaret open mic at the Gardenia supper club in L.A.

Other vocalists appearing on the album are Luke Andrews, Karen Christie, Amy Cochet, Tom Culver, Jennifer Hasty, Bill Hemmer, Lynda Levy, Gregg Marx, Maureen Miller, David Pascucci, Dolores Petersen, Jose Promis, Julie Schwaba, Dolores Scozzesi, Valerie Sneade, and Geoffrey Leigh Tozer.

Most of this impressive lineup turned out to perform at the CD release party, held last month at the Hollywood Studio Bar and Grill. Also appearing were pianist Ron Snyder, bassist Tim Emmons, and drummer David Gaziel, who play on several of the album’s tracks.



Ten dollars from the sale of each CD (or thirty cents from each downloaded song) will be split evenly between the Jewish World Watch (JWW) Solar Cooker Project and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) . Says McCardle, “These organizations are doing wonders in Darfur, getting much-needed resources and aid into the refugee camps.”

JWW’s Solar Cooker Project provides refugee families with lightweight, portable cookers and related supplies. The cookers—simple foil-covered cardboard that folds into shape—look humble. Yet solar cooking within the refugee camps saves tons of firewood annually. It also saves lives. Women and girls are primarily responsible for building and tending fires, and foraging for firewood leaves them vulnerable to attack. Use of the solar cookers lets female refugees stay within the relative safety of the camps while focusing on tasks other than the constant tending of cookfires. Many female refugees also earn income through JWW’s program by manufacturing the cookers.

The IRC works in some 25 countries to deliver lifesaving aid in emergencies, rebuild shattered lives, and strengthen the communities of those uprooted by violent conflict and persecution. For refugees granted entry to the United States, IRC offices across the country provide a range of assistance aimed at helping new arrivals get settled, adjust, and acquire the skills to become self-sufficient. IRC also advocates tirelessly on behalf of the displaced, standing up for the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Says McCardle, “My hope is that A Drop of Rain may inspire more raindrops of aid for the refugees.”

The CD A Drop of Rain can be purchased through the album’s MySpace page or at CDBaby.com. The album is also available for download at iTunes and ZooMoozik.com.