Father of Sandy Hook victim nominated for 2 Grammys after channeling grief through music
BY SAMANTHA SCHOENFELD, WTIC
NEWTOWN--It's been three years since Jimmy Greene and his wife, Nelba, lost their 6-year-old daughter.
Ana was one of the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy, which her brother, Isaiah, survived.
"When Ana was killed, there's a lot of emotions, obviously," Greene said during an exclusive interview with FOX 61. "There's debilitating grief and pain and shock, some of the first that hit."
FOX 61's Erin Logan spoke to Greene just days after he was nominated for two Grammy Awards for an album he made in Ana's honor when he couldn't find the words to work through his pain and grief.
"It helps to have a project to focus on, and a purpose and a goal," he explained.
But it wasn't always easy. "I remember writing some of these lyrics with a face full of tears. It was very, very emotional and it was draining to do at times," Greene said. "I look back at those days right after Ana was killed, and I wonder how this album was even made in the first place."
While Greene, a saxophonist, says he wishes the album never had to be made, one thing that made him smile was knowing that Ana would be proud of him.
Photos of Jimmy Greene and his daughter Ana:
One of the messages of the album is love thy neighbor, something that Greene says his daughter grasped despite her young age. She was a loving person, and that's what comes across on "Beautiful Life."
"If from this album we could just re-examine, if we really do, if we can really look around and say 'You know what? I want the best for that person that I don't even know.' And, 'I'm not going to harm this person, you know, that did something to me.'"
Greene recruited some of the best musicians, engineers, recorders and vocalists, like Javier Colon, to help him complete his album. He even spent time recording at home with his son Isaiah.
"She loved to sing and she loved a lot of the songs that were on the recording, like 'Maybe' from the musical 'Annie,' and the prayer that I recorded was something I prayed with my kids every night, or many nights, before bed."
The Greene family is trying to move forward after their loss, and one of the ways they are doing that is through The Ana Grace Project, which Greene's wife, Nelba, started. A portion of the proceeds from "Beautiful Life" will be donated to the foundation, as well as to The Artists Collective, where Greene studied and taught.
Isaiah, who also loves music and used to sing and play the piano with Ana, says he wants to follow in his father's footsteps as a saxophonist.
"There's a humongous void in our life, in our home, but all things considered, you know, he's doing really well," Greene said of his son.
While Greene knows that Ana would have been proud of his accomplishments, he says the album doesn't necessarily feature music that the young singer would have listened to on her own.
"This is too slow to dance to daddy!" Greene says Ana would have said about it.
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