In celebration of what would have been John’s Lennon’s 79th birthday, grassroots non-profit Theatre Within has announced artists for the 39th Annual John Lennon Tribute on Friday, December 6, including Natalie Merchant. The event will be held at Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space on Broadway and 95th street.
In addition to artist-activist Natalie Merchant, who will be honored as the sixth recipient of the “John Lennon Real Love Award,” the Tribute will feature performances by Joan Osborne, Rachael Yamagata, Sam Amidon, Willie Nile and Raye Zaragoza, backed by a band led by drummer Rich Pagano, one of the founding members of the Fab Faux.
Merchant, who will be appearing in the long-running charity concert for first time, said in a statement:
“John and Yoko’s activism had a profound impact upon me as a child. Through their ingenious war protests they challenged the entire world to reflect upon itself. In my estimation, ‘Imagine’ remains the most powerful three minutes and eight seconds of music ever recorded. It contains a vision of our highest aspirations in the most concise language and simple melody. John and Yoko realized that popular art and celebrity could be used to push society closer toward equity and compassion. I’ve tried to follow their example throughout my life, as an artist and citizen. It’s such an honor to be recognized for my work with the John Lennon Real Love award this year.”
“With her beautiful songs, social activism, and support of charitable causes, Natalie Merchant has truly brightened our world and our hearts,” said Yoko Ono. “Natalie’s outspokenness on the environment, domestic violence, and special-needs children shines light on these vitally important issues. I am so happy that Theatre Within is honoring her with this year’s John Lennon Real Love Award.”
Theatre Within Artistic Director and longtime Tribute producer/host, Joe Raiola says of Merchant, “John Lennon combined music and social activism in a unique and remarkably positive way. Natalie Merchant is a great artist blazing a similar path with heart, caring and compassion, and she is very deserving of this honor.”
Proceeds from the Tribute will support Theatre Within’s ongoing free workshops – in songwriting, art, meditation and more – at Gilda’s Club NYC for those whose lives have been impacted by cancer. Workshops include the John Lennon Real Love Project, a visionary songwriting program for children, which will be made available to public schools and libraries in the NY tri-state area starting in the spring of 2020.
Tickets for Theatre Within’s 39th Annual John Lennon Tribute are currently sold out. However, additional seats may be released for sale. For seat availability, visit LennonTribute.org. A limited number of VIP packages with up-close center orchestra seats are available at LennonTribute.org/join-friends.
Theatre Within’s Annual John Lennon Tribute is produced in association with Music Without Borders. It is the only ongoing John Lennon Tribute concert in the world sanctioned by Yoko Ono.