Award-winning singer-songwriter Joanne Lurgio, of Warwick, is thrilled her song “Won’t Ever Quit,” an anthem of inspiration to show the determination and strength of breast cancer survivors, was nominated for “Best Song” in this year’s Limelight Magazine Music Awards.
“It was such an amazingly special project,” said Lurgio, who is also up for an award in the “Best Singer-Songwriter” category. “It went from a little thing to this huge production. Sometimes you can’t help that when the muse starts coming.”
Each year, Limelight Magazine, a New England-based online arts and entertainment publication, conducts an online reader’s poll allowing fans to nominate local bands and musicians they love via email.
After the numbers are tallied, a ballot is created and posted on the web. Fans, and artists alike, are given the opportunity to vote online for their favorite acts about a month or so before the ceremony.
Cranston resident and breast cancer survivor Meri Kennedy is one of several people who nominated Lurgio, as Lurgio wrote “Won’t Ever Quit” for the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation per the request of Lynn Simon, the Gloria Gemma 5K coordinator. It ended up being the kickoff song for the Gloria Gemma 5K race in October.
Lurgio recorded the song last year at Reel to Real Studios in Cranston with help from a few musician friends, plus two Rhode Island high school choruses: Warwick’s Bishop Hendricken and St. Mary Bay View Academy in Riverside.
“I walked into the room when Bay View was practicing and I just bawled,” Lurgio said. “And the guys blew my mind. My eyes just filled up because it was beautiful, and they were so proud to be there. It was magic.”
Kennedy, as well as several other breast cancer survivors and their family and friends, also sang on the recording. Through Lurgio's song, Kennedy said, she found her voice as a survivor.
“I’m not known as a singer – my daughter used to cry when I would sing – but to be part of the chorus meant the world to me,” said Kennedy, who was diagnosed in 2005 and is now entering into her seventh year cancer-free. Still, she is facing more chronic illness. “I was in that room with other breast cancer survivors and it was so empowering. It gave me a way to talk about it and sing about it.”
She also said she plays the song each morning, as well as throughout the day, as inspiration to keep going. A key line is, “In the light of this love I don’t walk alone, and for this I won’t ever quit.”
“It was one of the most uplifting projects that I have ever been involved with,” Kennedy said. “The song is amazing. She’s already a winner in my book.”
Lurgio met Kennedy aboard the Gloria Gemma Hope Bus, a mobile wellness and resource RV that aims to raise breast health awareness, encourage threefold screening (breast self-exam, annual clinical exam and annual mammograms) and provide educational resources about breast cancer in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Lurgio volunteers on the bus, playing songs for survivors and their loved ones.
While she’s not a cancer survivor, Lurgio feels she is able to relate, as she experienced loss when her father passed away from a rare disease about two years ago. She kept this in mind when writing the song.
“I was conscious of the fact that I am not a breast cancer survivor, however, I knew what it felt like when my dad was sick, and I knew the struggle,” she said. “What was important to me was that I could be their voice.”
Despite the fact that she misses her father, she is grateful for the care that Hospice provided and the support they offered. Soon after his passing, she came across a Beacon Hospice ad on Craigslist calling for a volunteer music therapist to visit facilities that house Hospice patients.
Hospice assigned her to two facilities, including the South Kingstown Nursing Home and Cedar Crest Nursing Home. She also was recently assigned to Coventry Health Center.
“There were only two patients at South Kingstown, and they are both improved enough that they are off Hospice care – I’m going to take credit for that,” Lurgio joked before becoming serious. “Music is medicine – it’s healing. It’s absolutely amazing to watch the Alzheimer’s patients I work with come to life. It’s a mutual gratification. They love it and I love it.”
As Kennedy expressed to Limelight via email, Lurgio’s “talent and gift of song has helped many who are currently battling breast cancer or have survived.” But Kennedy’s words are music to Lurgio’s ears, and she hopes “Won’t Ever Quit,” will reach even more people.
In April, she’ll be heading to Nashville to meet friends, perform and meet with representatives at Broadcast Music Inc. in hopes of exposing more people to the song.
“I want it to go around the world and be a song for anybody who’s suffering,” Lurgio said. “That’s what it’s about. You’re never alone.”
To download the song for 99 cents, visit Lurgio’s website at JoanneLurgio.com. All proceeds benefit the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. She also has hardcopies available for $5 each. Two dollars from every hardcopy purchase will be donated to the cause. The other $3 is used for production fees.
Lurgio, the membership coordinator and treasurer for the Rhode Island Songwriters Association, a non-profit organization she’s been affiliated with since 2000, has a few awards under her belt already, though not from Limelight. Motif Magazine, another local arts publication, honored her for her 2005 album, “Find A Dream, Catch It If You Dare” and 2009’s “Nothing Remains the Same.” Motif also named her best singer-songwriter for 2007 and 2011.
Since she hasn’t released anything since 2009, she plans to visit Lakewest Recording Studio in West Greenwich with studio owner and producer Jack Gauthier in the spring and summer to start recording a new album.
“I have more than enough songs for it,” she said.
Until then, she’s gearing up for the award show and basking in the excitement of her nominations.
“I’m happy I’m writing songs that people are relating to and like,” she said. “It’s a great honor because it’s what I love to do.”
Lurgio will find out if she’s a winner on March 16 at Limelight’s fifth annual award show at The Rock Junction in Coventry beginning at 7:30 p.m. The event is all ages. Tickets can be purchased before the show at brownpapertickets.com or at the door. Learn more about Limelight Magazine at LimelightMagazine.com.