By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — With the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., still fresh in many minds, area musicians are banding together to pay tribute and help heal those left behind.
Derry native Justin Cohen composed the title song and sings lead in the video “26 Angels” now showing on YouTube.
The video is a tribute to the victims of Sandy Hook. The intent is to raise money to support charities and organizations Newtown families want to support, including a future memorial in town.
Filmed last month at Andover (Mass.) High School, the video was a collaborative effort between Cohen and Nashua native Ben Proulx.
Cohen said the song itself came together quickly and was completed in only a few days before Christmas.
“It’s a sad topic,” he said. “We wanted to make sure it came off the right way.”
Project 2 Studios in Manchester donated time and studio space to record and produce Cohen’s song.
When it came time to film the video, the project took on a life of its own. Area businesses and musicians donated time and products to see the mission through to completion.
Cohen, a 2007 graduate of Pinkerton Academy and Berklee College of Music, sings the lead in the video, flanked by a chorus of 20 children, representing the young lives lost in the shooting at the school Dec. 14.
Five adult musicians accompany Cohen, making up a total of 26 seen in the video for all the victims who died at Sandy Hook.
The children came to the project after Proulx started a search for a group of young singers.
Cohen said the young children were amazing, picking up the song’s tune without much rehearsal time.
As the video progresses, each child in the chorus holds up a small sign with the name of a child who died in the shooting.
For Cohen, composing a song to pay tribute to so many lost young lives truly hit a chord. At the age of 6, Cohen lost his baby brother Trevor to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
“It really was hitting home,” he said.
Cohen said the team received feedback already from those in Newtown, including a relative of one of the children who died at the school.
The money raised from the video may go to help support a future memorial.
“We wrote this strictly for the kids and the families,” Cohen said. “It’s just been incredible.”
To donate, visit 26angelstribute.com or indiegogo.com/26angels.