cover photo by Jason Merritt, Getty Images
Chris Cornell kicks off his 2016, 54 date world tour today at Harpa Eldborg Hall in Reykjavik, Iceland. The tour consist of Cornell, an array of guitars and his extensive bag of songs that span his entire career including; Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, solo material and of course, Soundgarden. His Songbook tours which Cornell has embarked on quite a few times over the past five years, offers an intimate fan experience, allowing the concertgoer to hear stripped down versions of Cornell classics, often accompanied by some storytelling. Each night is a unique experience as Cornell mixes up the sets, occasionally improvises or takes requests and plays what I call incredible “original covers.” These are obviously cover songs, such as Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” Price’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and a Metallica/U2 Mashup of “One,” but done in his own way, giving the song a brand new signature Cornell feel. As I highlight the enthralling experience of having the Seattle icon’s voice fill the most beautiful theaters the world has to offer, I would like to point out one incredibly potent paragraph listed in the tour and ticket sale announcement from months back.
One dollar from each ticket sold will support the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation. Cornell and his wife Vicky, started the foundation in 2012 in an effort to raise funds and partner with charitable organizations that support children facing problems such as homelessness, poverty, abuse, and neglect. It’s a subject matter that Cornell holds very near and dear as explained on the foundations website, “Having had personal experience of what it means to be a vulnerable child, Chris is passionate about making a difference to the lives of others.” “I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to make a career doing something I love,” Cornell said. “Not every kid gets those opportunities. I’m in a fortunate position to use music to support important causes that help foster change.”
The Cornell’s foundation has already given financial support to two Seattle organizations: Childhaven whose trauma program helps heal victims of cruelty and neglect, and YouthCare which works to alleviate youth homelessness. Additionally, the group has been raising money to expand its activities by auctioning collector’s items. In the past, they’ve offered special concert meet-and-greet packages and Cornell’s Harley Davidson customized with the Badmotorfinger logo.
Currently, fans are able to purchase a Gibson guitar – hand-signed by the members of Soundgarden, a customized Chris Cornell guitar strap or receive a charitable fan badge by just donating a one dollar via IfOnly.com – which is linked in the Foundation website. As if those items aren’t cool enough, you have the ability to create your own idea and experience. Simply explain what you are looking for upon your donation and the charity will review to potentially make it happen. Upon the most popular items in years past were the signed setlists from Soudgardens King Animal tour or a Cornell signed guitar pick.
Though Cornell is no longer a full-time Seattle resident, he still has a deep connection to the city, often recalling his own experiences growing up there and wanting to have an impact on the lives of children in need back in the hometown that offered him the opportunity to pursue and live his dream. Prior to his first show back in Seattle since launching the Foundation, Cornell explained this to the Seattle Times.
“We wanted to really see and feel something with the Foundation. So we did the research to find something where we know the money is going right to something that is hopeful. But I wanted to get deeper into it,” he said, which is why they settled on Seattle nonprofits. “Seattle streets are the streets I ran around on, it’s my home. It seemed like a natural place to start.” He described himself as a “highly functional, depressed kid.” “I wasn’t good in school. I didn’t do sports. I sat in the bedroom and listened to records. Because the Beatles did whatever they wanted to, I took that as a kid and said, ‘That’s what rock is.’ ”
Charity initiatives and foundations in support of children are highly valuable efforts that deal with very fragile issues. Many believe contributions made towards positively affecting the life of even a single child in need can be the most important and rewarding. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America recently reported that in a Harris Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives.
There are various areas one can focus on in assisting young children. When you explore the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation website you will come across three buckets listed, each providing facts on the issue at hand in the state of Washington specially; there are 10,500 children in Foster Care, there are over 284,000 children living in the poverty and there are 6,000 recorded cases of child abuse or neglect. Lastly it reads – no child deserves this.
Thankfully, due to the compassion and courage of folks like Chris and Vicky Cornell, we can make a difference. Every little bit counts and someday some child my flower under the sweet sunshower because of it. So as you sit (or stand) in places like Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Worcester, MA or Calgary, Canada – with your friends and family, a cold beer in hand, screaming at the top of your head – the lyrics to your favorite Cornell classic or you’re simply listening to a vocal so powerful it claims its place amongst the art filled theater walls, know that you made a contribution to a great cause. And – you have a chance to do even more.
“To be yourself is all that you can do” – chris cornell, audioslave “be yourself”