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Local Music Draws Attention to Important Blood Disorder

by Kim Shires & Daniel Warren Hill

Eli Lev and Emma G.’s success, talent and mindful charisma make them two of the D.C. area’s go-to artists for entertainment. Sometimes that entertainment is the focus, but for this event the two local artists were invited to provide the soundtrack to the Cooley’s Anemia/Thalassemia Walk-a-Thon held on Sunday May 5, while providing awareness to this family of blood disorders.

Eli Lev is a respected singer/songwriter living in Silver Spring, MD. His track “Chasing Daylight” won the Songwriters Association of Washington (SAW) award for best song. Eli’s success continued when he won the WAMMIE for Best Country/American Album this year for his second full-length album Way Out West.

Now, Eli is actively working on his four EP series called The Four Directions. This project is inspired by the traditions steeped in the four cardinal directions observed by the Navajo Nation. Eli became intimately familiar with the teachings and customs of the Navajo Nation due to his three year stint teaching on their reservation. Eli is currently working on the third album in his series which he plans to title Down South. The third album of the series is expected to be released next year. In the meantime, Eli is releasing remixes of several of the tunes from his first two albums, All Roads East and Way Out West. Eli’s next release will be a remix of his single “Oh My Lord”, which is expected to be out in July.

Having just completed 35 days on the road for her 22 date Superhero tour, Emma G. is currently in the studio with tour-supporting musicians Silence Echoez, and DJ Reality Check who were with her from Maine to California and back up the southern road by way of Texas. The trio are already planning on their next tour, slated for this fall, which will be in support of this follow-up release to Emma’s 2018, Taking Flight. Emma is also educating other musicians who might be interested in booking a tour of their own through an upcoming indie touring workshop called, “Get Out Of Your Own Way”, at The Author Castle in McLean, VA on Saturday, August 3.

Eli and Emma put their positive music energies together for the Cooley’s Anemia/Thalassemia Walk-a-Thon. Cooley’s Anemia, or Thalassemia Major, is the most severe form of what is called “beta Thalassemia”, which is a blood disorder causing life threatening anemia. It was a rainy day, but folks came out in droves to support the cause and the community impacted by the disorder. As this form of the disease is the result of both parents passing on the genetic defect, the Walk-a-Thon raised funds for children who are affected by the disorder. Pete Kimbis was the organizer of the event and connected meaningful sponsorship for the event from the Redskins, Capitals and the Ravens.

The event featured a speaker who has Thalassemia. She spoke about how the research dollars have helped her. Eli commented that “It was really powerful.” Eli and Emma had a great time interacting with the crowd and connecting with the people who showed up to support a great cause. The kids were really into the music and the artists had fun playing with them and giving out stickers.

Eli noted, “This is something near and dear to my heart. Everybody was so willing to give their time and energy for a good cause and a great community. That’s also what the music is about for me. Everybody having buy-in and a mutual trust and respect to make something happen.”

While Eli and Emma do not have any personal relationship with the cause, they were eager to support any effort that helps children who suffer from any affliction.

“I didn’t know what Thalassemia was before being invited to support this event.” says Emma, “ I didn’t personally know anyone who has this condition. My goal was simply to do something positive for people who have to suffer the experiences of a medical situation like this.”

Neither musician are strangers to supporting important causes, especially where the youth are concerned.

Eli is involved with Musicians On Call through Children’s hospital. About once a month he goes into the ICU and plays songs for kids. Emma has performed for and continues to support the efforts of DCFYI a Washington DC Family & Youth Initiative focused exclusively on helping teens in foster care find adoptive families and make lifelong connections

Eli and Emma are not alone in their mission to use music to bring awareness to great causes. Many musicians in the region are making a difference through their art by supporting social change, bringing awareness to various causes, and raising money to help change the situations of those affected or simply to provide opportunities for those that might otherwise have none.

Stone Driver, voted as “The Best Original Band in 2018” by readers of the Washington City Paper, released their third full-length album “Chasing Demons” in 2018 completely around the platform of raising funds for and promoting the efforts of Rolling Thunder, a United States advocacy group that seeks to bring full accountability for prisoners of war and missing in action service members of all U.S. wars.

Just last month, local drummer Ben Tufts united with Kristie diLascio, Aztec Sun, Bobby Thompson, Holly Montgomery, and Hayley Fahey, as well as others, to raise money for The Craig Tufts Educational Scholarship Fund, which sends one child each summer to participate in an outdoor education and adventure camp connected with the National Wildlife Federation

To read our article on the recent Craig Tufts Educational Scholarship Fund event, click here.

It’s important to remember how uplifting music can be, and what a powerful tool it is for healing and for inspiring community. Emma says humbly that her contribution is “Just sing songs and help celebrate survivors”. This attitude is common among musicians in the region who are striving to make their music about what it can do to more positively affect change in the world.

Kim Shires, contributing writer of Alchemical Records and founder of Hear Me Roar Studio

Kimberly Shires

Kimberly Shires is a producer and owner of Hear Me Roar Studio. She is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who is passionate about empowering women to express themselves through music. Outside of music she enjoys hiking, biking and snuggling with her dog. Kimberly has called the DMV home her whole life.

Daniel Warren Hill

Daniel Warren Hill is an American musician, writer, and motivational speaker. He is best known as the frontman for Washington DC area Alternative Rock band YellowTieGuy, as co-founder of Capitol Groove Collective, and increasing the exposure of artists on a global scale through his work with Alchemical Records. 

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